Does my SW2 really need a new steering column?

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by tracym, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. tracym

    tracym Guest

    Hi all,

    My Saturn SW2 station wagon was stolen, but I got it back,
    but the ignition was totally removed.

    When I got it to the mechanic, I was told that not only do I
    have to replace the ignition, but the whole steering
    column. The vinyl covering of the steering column
    had been taken apart, it;s true, but the mechanic
    said that when they do this, you have to replace
    the whole column, and that the gears had been broken.

    I don't know what gears he meant. I had to get help to get
    the car started with a screwdriver, but after that it drove
    just fine. The mechanic did not even look at the steering
    column, at its mechanical condition, I mean. He just saw
    that the covering had been pried apart and pronounced
    that the whole column had to be replaced. I tend to think
    he could have looked at it a little more carefully before making
    that judgement.

    My b/f has been to this place before, and considers them good,
    (although he does't know much about car repair), but on the
    expensive side.

    The guy is charging us $475.00 for a re-built steering column!
    He also proclaimed that a new one from the dealer would cost $1500.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.


    tracym, Jul 29, 2004
  2. tracym

    uknewwho Guest

    My guess would be you need a new lock cylinder and housing. It's not a hard
    thing to replace, even easier since your lock cylinder is already missing
    (thats not meant as a joke). who ever stole it, probably broke the housing
    while removing the cylinder. But if they damaged anything on the column,
    near the cylinder and housing, then yeah, you'll have to replace it all. try
    taking it to a different shop to get an 2nd opinion.
    so in short, the whole column probably does not have to be replaced.

    hope that helps

    uknewwho, Jul 29, 2004
  3. tracym

    James1549 Guest

    U may be better off just letting a Saturn dealer repair it. I had to replace
    the housing and tumbler in mine, the parts are very inexpensive, just labor
    intensive. I did it myself. Actually it was pretty easy once I did the job. It
    is the unknown that is scary.

    James1549, Jul 30, 2004
  4. tracym

    uknewwho Guest

    Yes i agree, if your not very hands on with auto repair, i would take it to
    a dealer, or 3rd party shop if it's cheaper. after all, we all know what
    happens when the aitbag goes off....right? Or if someone in the group is
    available in your area, maybe for a free lunch could do it.

    good luck with it.

    uknewwho, Jul 30, 2004
  5. tracym

    Blue87T Guest

    If you have a digital camera and could link a picture I could tell you for
    sure. Depending on how the ignition cylinder was ripped out will determine how
    much was damaged. Usually it would be the upper and lower plastic shrouds (
    cheap) , the ignition lock cylinder and the ignition lock cylinder
    housing/collar. Not to hard of a job to do. Sometimes you could get a used
    column pretty cheap and install that .
    Blue87T, Jul 31, 2004
  6. tracym

    tracym Guest


    Yes, the shoruds had been pulled apart, and the ignition removed, but
    after it was started, it worked fine. I tend to doubt it really
    needed the whole steering column replaced. What a scam.

    thanks everybody. Unfortunately I could not get the car out of there
    before the part came and the work done. The part came a day earleir
    than he said it would. The mechanic was on the belligerent end of the
    spectrum. Now I am reporting him to Consumer Affairs and the Better
    Business Bureau. Yes, from now on I will go to the dealer.

    I still would like to post some digital photos, though - of the old
    steering column.

    He claimed that he put a "re-built" steering column unit in there,
    but it came straight from the junkyard. It didn't even have an airbag
    on it. I know this because he took the airbag off my old one.
    Also, the ignition works, but part of the plastic covering has a piece
    missing. what a piece of junk. I will take pictures of this stuff,
    for Consumer Affairs.

    So, I already placed my complaint to Consumer Affairs about his
    refusal to be specific about exaclty what parts were installed.
    (he tried to convince me that he saved me a bunch of money
    because I would not have to buy an airbag new).

    So, I have a question: Do Salvage yards actually "re-build"
    parts? I thougt "re-built" parts had to go to a factory somewhere,
    to get worked on, but I'm seeing web sites for auto salvage yards
    that sell "re-built" parts.

    well, I guess it's obvious that it was not rebuilt, since it did not
    even come with an airbag.

    tracym, Aug 1, 2004
  7. tracym

    uknewwho Guest

    If he pulled it from a junk yard, chances are the airbag had deployed in an
    As for junk yard, no, they don't rebuild parts. A junkyard, basically you
    can go and pull a part that you need from a car that has been wrecked. Yes,
    a rebuilt part has to be certified by the manufacture.
    However, the air bag does not come with the colume, it might come with a new
    steering wheel, but probibly seperate piece from the dealer all together.
    My question to you, did you sign anything? I'm not 100% sure about every
    state, but generally, you have to give a shop permission, ie sign a piece of
    paper, to work on your car. If you didn't, you have a much better case
    against them.
    Would still like to see pictures of the damaged pieces.
    good luck with the bbb and Consumer Affairs

    uknewwho, Aug 1, 2004
  8. tracym

    tracym Guest

    yes, he admitted to me that it came from a car that had been in an
    accident. So that would be consistent with my old steering column
    unit not having the air bag in it any more. What a bad liar.

    Thank you!
    yes, I did. They always have you sign that you agree to it beforeyou
    leave your car with any mechanic. Are there any states where this is
    not done?

    here it is. I just could not get the close-ups into focus.
    I may just go put some film in my 35mm camera and set
    it to macro so I can get some decent closeup photos.

    I took a picture of the old steering column unit without the
    air bag, and the cruise control unit ( side and back) .
    This mechanic claimed that the cruise control unit was
    broken, and needed to be replaced. It was not broken.

    Last is the ignition that that the mechanic installed.


    tracym, Aug 1, 2004
  9. tracym

    Blue87T Guest

    yes, he admitted to me that it came from a car that had been in an
    Your better off for having your original airbag anyway ...I wouldnt want a used
    one. The problem you could run into with used steering columns ( and this is
    not to say it will be the case for you ) is that the column itself is
    sometimes considered a airbag system part . Sometimes they collapse ( a safety
    feature ) and will have a lot of play in them. The way to check is to grab the
    wheel and pull it towards your chest .

    Junkyards, or salvage yards/recycling yards as they prefer to be called
    nowadays, dont rebuild the columns. They are just unbolted from the car and
    The cruise is controled from a box mounted under the dash . The only part that
    is part of the column is the switch and wiring ( if I recall correctly ) .

    It sucks when mechanics take advantage of people. SOmetimes they do it on
    purpose and sometimes they do it out of pure ignorance as they dont know how to
    accurately diagnose a problem or a need.
    Blue87T, Aug 10, 2004
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