Install The Column Lock Bypass on a Chevrolet Corvette
Gm used a Steering Column Lock mechanism on corvettes that turned out to be crazily problematic to most Corvette owners.
The steering column lock is particularly problematic for C5 cars. 1997-2004 manual (MN6), and 1997-2000 automatic (A4) cars have pretty common issues with the column lock. GM issued a recall on affected model years. Even so, the problem can occur on cars outside the recall dates.
Low battery voltage seems to exasperate the failure, but it will happen to just about any car with the lock installed.
This problem is sometimes caused by a faulty column lock, sometimes by low a battery voltage issue. Either way, you may wish to bypass the lock so that it doesn't leave you stranded.
Check out the Steering Column Lock FAQ for more information.
The steering wheel will not unlock (most cars lock the steering wheel in position w/o the key in the ignition) and the dash will display an error message saying "Service Steering Column Lock".
Check Your Battery Voltage
If the battery is low, try charging it so that it has enough power to unlock the actuator. Remember that the actuator is only unlocked when you turn the key to start your engine.
If you jump start the engine, it won't help because the car doesn't have enough charge when you turn the key. It may be time to replace your battery all together.
Removing Lower Dash (knee) Panel
Pop out the trunk release / fog lamp switch panel. Use a soft edged tool like a plastic pry tool or a screwdriver with a cloth around it.
Remove the T-15 Torx screw hidden behind the panel.
Pry of the similar panel on the opposite side of the column, between the key and steering column using the same technique.
Remove the T-15 Torx screw hidden behind the second panel.
Remove the 2 T-15 torx screws near the lower edge of the panel (closer to the pedals)
Remove the panel. Start on the outer most edge near the door. It will require some effort to pop it loose from the clips that are keeping it in place.
The right side of the panel is a little more difficult. The temperature sensor will sticks out a ways and will get caught as you try to remove the panel. Carefully pull back on the dash trim that surrounds the key hole and temperature sensor. This will give you room to pull the knee panel out and down.
Unplug the wire harness on the temperature sensor if you have one.
Unlock The Steering Wheel
Insert the key and turn the ignition to On/Acc (not start). This should unlock the steering wheel in normal conditions.
If your steering wheel does not unlock, you can attempt to use the slightly violent but typically very effective method outlined here.
- Turn the key off and remove it.
- Turn the wheel left and right all the way till it hits the lock repeatedly. You're trying to apply physical shock to the column lock to un stick it.
- Try the key again to see if you succeeded.
- If not, repeat
Remove the Fuse
Make sure the wheel is turning freely with the key in.
While the ignition is still on:
Unplug fuse #25 from the fuse panel in the passenger side footwell.
Pull the carpet on the passenger side back, exposing the panel cover. The cover has 2 black plastic latches, just release them and push the panel up/out.
Disconnect the Column Lock Connector
Back under the steering column, disconnect the column lock from the wire harness. This plug is located up in the dash so you may need to be looking up from the floor.
The plug has 4 wires: purple, orange, green, and black. Pry the connector's plastic locking tab and pull the plug down.
Install the Lock Simulator / Bypass
Plugging in the bypass is very strait forward. Just plug it into the connector we just removed.
Test the Bypass
With the bypass installed, re-install the #25 fuse and remove the key from the ignition.
Wait a few seconds and try putting the key in and again turning it to the On position.
Check the dash for any warnings about the column. If there are none, it worked!
If there is an error, remove the the #25 fuse again for 10 minutes to clear the code.
Button up the fuse panel
Once everything is working, close up the fuse panel with #25 back in place. Replace the cover and fold the carpet back into place.
Re-install the Trim Panels
The right side of the panel is going to be a big pain, especially if you have a temp sensor.
Re connect the temp sensor.
Pull back on the key hole trim with one hand and work the panel back into place with your other hand. Ignore the driver's side at this point, just get this side in place first.
Pull the left side trunk & foglight wire harness out of the hole and re-connect to the panel.
Press the panel back in till it snaps in place.
Re-install all 4 T-15 torx screws.
For the cars that are effected by this issue, it is better to address it long before it becomes a problem. As annoying as the install is when the car is working, it is much worse when the car isn't.
Just T-15 torx screws.