audio mode switching when I turn steering wheel

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Audio and Electronics' started by Lindy, Jun 8, 2016.

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  1. Lindy

    Lindy Junior Member

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    Hi guys,
    This started happening about a month ago, at first just sporadically. I have a 2011 Prius. I always have my iPod in the aux channel, and occasionally when I turned the steering wheel hard to the right, it would switch to an FM station. I'd punch it back to aux mode. Like I said, at first it was just here and there, but lately it has gotten way worse. Now almost any movement of the steering wheel in either direction sends it to FM. Obviously there is a wire loose or something similar, and I'm assuming inside or directly under the steering wheel shaft.

    I am hoping someone might have some advice regarding this, or pinpoint exactly what it is, with a simple solution. If I go to a dealer, I can envision it costing $350 to adjust a single wire.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    That kind of symptom often points to a worn spiral cable assembly (sometimes called 'clockspring' as that's what it looks like) which, unfortunately, is not cheap in this model ... partly because there's an angle sensor built into it, I guess.

    If you're handy and can follow instructions from techinfo, it's not a hard replacement ... just follow those instructions to the letter, especially about safe handling of the air bag, and not getting the angle sensor misaligned. That way the part price may still be unwelcome but you can save the labor part.

    There are probably cheaper aftermarket versions of the part, and also used ones from recyclers, though it might be wise to wonder about the quality, since that part also is part of the air bag story. (Personally, I'd probably have more confidence in a used, low-mileage Toyota original than in a new, cheap, knockoff....)

    -Chap
     
  3. Lindy

    Lindy Junior Member

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    Shoot. I thought your message was bad news until I clicked on the link and saw the price. That's disasterous news. Oh well, thanks so much for the feedback. There's no way I'm paying that to get the iPod to work.

    But is it affecting the airbags?
     
  4. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    It'll get progressively worse ... how fast, hard to say. It's a part that wears; those wraps of cable rub each other with every turn of the steering wheel. All of the steering-wheel-mounted controls go through it, including cruise control and horn, as well as the airbag trigger circuits. If you've ever known anybody embarrassed because their car honks every time they turn corners, it's the same issue.

    I cleaned and lubricated the cable in my Gen 1 shortly after I started noticing soft 'schnrff' sounds from my steering column after turning corners (like a very faint sound of someone shuffling a deck of cards, just after straightening the wheel from a turn, as if the cable was winding up, then unwinding not smoothly but all at once) and by getting to it at that stage I seemed to have avoided any damage. But PriusChat member mswtoyota posted pictures of the cable from a 2006 that make it look like the construction changed a lot since my Gen 1 ... I don't know whether the later version even would make funny sounds in advance of wearing out. In any case, it's too late in your situation, but might be helpful to someone else.

    Repairing the cable, as mswtoyota reported, was technically impressive but lasted 43 days ... it's a part that sees a lot of motion, once it is showing signs of failure, replacement seems the best option.

    The eBay knockoffs are much cheaper (you can use the part number from the first link I posted and just search for it), so you might consider one. Just be aware that PC member kammssss has reported they might not last very long, so you might eventually get very fast at replacing them.

    -Chap
     
    #4 ChapmanF, Jun 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  5. Lindy

    Lindy Junior Member

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    Hey,

    I wanted to give you an update. After the sucker punch to the gut thinking it was definitely the spiral cable, I thought I would try a couple experiments.

    First I disconnected the iPod and aux cord and played only FM for a day and a half. It was fine, but that didn't necessarily tell me anything. I also noticed on the last day with the aux hooked up to iPod, it started to go out repeatedly even if I was driving straight, and if I punched the aux button on main dash I had to do it several times to reconnect.

    I had originally wondered if it was the aux cord but it is connected in the center console, so I didn't get how the steering wheel would affect it. And the disconnects didn't seem connected to bumps in the road. It then occurred to me that maybe the iPod was sliding on the shelf in the middle console and it was disconnecting due to that.

    To test, I attached the iPod to the aux cord (I did not put the other end of the aux cord into the Prius aux jack). Sure enough, with every turn, slow down, uphill, downhill, the iPod slid. So I cushioned it so it wouldn't move and plugged the sucker back in.

    It's been about five days and no problems. I hope I'm not jinxing it by writing this.

    So keep in mind if that happens to you. Check the device movement first!

    Also, I found that there has been a massive recall on the spiral cable on many Toyota models and years. Not the Prius yet, but if you have a spiral problem be sure to eyeball the recall list.
     
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