Aftermarket steering wheel in late Jeep TJ / LJ

Aftermarket steering wheel adapter kits are readily available for the Jeep CJ and YJ, but manufacturers such as Grant, Sparco, or MOMO do not offer a kit for the TJ/LJ Wrangler. Although an adapter (such as the MOMO 2401) will fit on the TJ steering shaft, the lower part of it will occupy the same space as the clockspring assembly. Without a clockspring, the Jeep will lose the driver's airbag circuit, cruise control, horn, and the self-cancelling feature of the directionals. Only the last two of these features are particularly valuable or necessary, and they can be restored in some form even with the MOMO adapter fitted.

To do this job, it's easiest to disassemble a spare clockspring and scavenge its components:

  • Self-cancelling indicators: The plastic center spool (inside of the flex cable) should be removed from the spare clockspring and modified to fit over the center boss on the bottom of the MOMO 2401. This can be done by using a rotary tool with a small end mill to remove some of the material that forms the internal structure of the spool. The spool should then be a snug fit over the center on the bottom of the adapter. I used a coating of JB Weld and a set of hardware to secure it. Be sure to align it properly first; you will want the steering wheel to be mounted at zero degrees when no steering lock is applied. If the splines on the steering shaft don't allow the adapter to fit without some deflection to the left or right, you will need to loosen the Jeep's drag link collar and turn the drag link to fix the alignment.

Clockspring spool on adapter

  • Airbag warning lamp: Presumably it will be very self-evident that your aftermarket steering wheel no longer contains an airbag module, and it is possible to extinguish the warning lamp in the instrument cluster by wiring a 2 Ohm resistor across the two pins that connect to the airbag harness. To avoid cutting/modifying the car's wiring harness, you can use the small terminator board with the header pins from the spare clockspring. It's located at the outside end of the flex cable, and it breaks out the five contacts from the cable. On my 2005 LJ, the airbag pins were the two furthest toward the wide end of the board. After you wire the air bag resistor and horn switch wire (see below), the whole assembly might be somewhat delicate, so I'd recommend securing it with something like a section of large-diameter shrink tubing.

Wiring adapter Wiring adapter finished

  • Horn: In the OEM design, the clockspring flex cable carries the horn signal as well as the airbag and cruise control signals. After some experimentation, I decided that using a loop of wire where the flex cable once was would not be reliable; it gets snagged too easily as the steering wheel is turned. Instead, I moved the horn button to an empty slot in the center console. (OEM-looking switches are available with the "Horn" label and icon.) This avoids the need to have a rotary coupler between the steering column and steering wheel. The horn signal wire is simply shorted to ground to activate it.