A little while ago the indicators on my Toyota Auris started to experience issues. At first I had to hold the indicator in a fairly specific spot in order to indicate to turn right. Then the same happened for turning left, before finally it wouldn’t work in either direction.

I searched the forums and found this was a common problem, with people paying around £250 for a replacement unit for the indicator/lights/wiper stalks. Some videos gave broad guidance on resolving but they tended to skim over details, so I had to find seperate posts and videos to help. Plus pausing and rewinding a YouTube video (and the phone locking part way through as you actually perform the steps) is a pain, so I thought I’d have a go at my own instructions.

From what I can tell, these instructions should work for the 2007-2012 Toyota Auris, the Yaris of similar age and, for the most part the Avensis (with a slight difference when removing the steering-wheel cowling).

Firstly, the cause of the issue is corrosion in the circuit required to indicate, so the fix is to clean up the contacts. Unfortunately to get to that you need to dismantle the steering wheel and remove the indicator/wipe stalk entirelly. You have to remove the airbag too, so there’s some preparation to do before that.

Before starting you’ll need:

Disconnect the battery

I’ve not got pictures for this, but before doing anything disconnect the battery’s negative terminal. Make sure you tuck the cable away so it doesn’t end up springing back and connecting/arcing. The forums suggest to do this 20 minutes before anything else to make sure there’s no power left in the circuit. I did it the evening before, just to be sure. You do not want the airbag going off while you’re working in front of the steering wheel!

Removing the airbag

So the battery has been disconnected for a sufficient amount to time, now to remove the airbag.

  1. Unscrew the torx screws on either side of the steering column. You don’t remove them entirely, just loosen them and you’ll hear when the airbag has been released.
Torx screws on either-side of steering column

2. Carefully pull the airbag away from the steering wheel. It’ll be connected by two wires that need to be disconnected. Using your pry tool pop up the yellow pin from the end of the orange connector, then again use your pry tool to disconnect the connector.

Airbag Cable 1 – Connected
Airbag Cable 1 – Disconnected

3. A smaller earth cable needs to be disconnected too. I used a small flathead screwdriver to release the catch on the underside of this. Images should show how to locate that.

Airbag Cable 2 – Connected
Airbag Cable 2 – Disconnected

4. With this disconnected place the airbag somewhere safe. The forums recommend face-up. I don’t know how likely it is to go off, but if it’s possible then it makes sense not to risk the back of the airbag serving as a projectile (though if you’ve not taken it in for the recall for the airbag shrapnell issue, I guess it might not matter that much!).

Airbag – face-up

Removing the steering wheel

That’s the most scary bit over with thankfully (though not the most difficult). Next is removing the steering wheel.

1. Disconnect the whie plug from the unit behind the steering wheel. This is what connects the steering wheel buttons to the car.

Steering wheel plug

2. Get your socket set and undo the nut which is holding the steering-wheel in place. It’s worth taking note of where the wheel is. I was taking pictures, so I had that to reference; you may want to do the same before removing the wheel.

Steering Wheel nut
Steering Wheel Removed

Removing the steering column cowling

I’m not sure ‘cowling’ is the right word. But it’s what I’m sticking with. This the the surrounds of the steering column.

1. Firstly push your thing screwdriver into each of the two holes on either side of the main steering column. This should release two catches inside. I believe on the Avensis and some later models there are screws doing this job, so unscrew those with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Steering Wheel Column catch

2. Next step is to basically pry and manipulate either side of the cowling to unclip the top and bottom section from one-another. They’re quite flexible so a small amount of force will release it. Then it’s just a matter of pulling them away from the column.

Steering Column Cowling Unclipped

Removing whatever this twisty thing is

By all means, somebody tell me what this is called.. I’m gonna call it the twisty-thing.

1. Unplug. Disconnect the white plugs from either-side of the twisty-thing.

Twisty-thing and left plug
Twisty-thing and right plugs

2. There are three clips on the top and either-side of the twisty thing. Use your pry tool to undo these, and just pull the twisty-thing away.

Twisty-thing top-clip
Twisty-thing right-hand clip.

The difficult bit – removing the stalk assembly

Removing the stalk assembly itself is fiddly and requires a bit of strength.

1. Using your pliers you’ll need to hold these two together to release the grip of the metal band around the steering column. You can use a screwdriver to rotate the metal band in order to make space for the pliers. In case it’s not clear from the image, you’re looking at the two bits of metal sticking up between the black plastic, to the left of the yellow line.

Stalk Clip

2. With the clips held together by the pliers, there’s a black plastic catch just underneath and behind that is attached to the steering column. You need to release this (again I used that small flathead screwdriver for this). Keep the clip held with the pliers so you can pull the assembly away (it won’t budge if you let go of the pliers as the metal band will grip the column again).

Band with pliers in place (not held together).

I’ve realised I don’t have an image of the assembly disconnected. Here’s one I found on eBay for a Yaris. Same thing basically.

Accessing the indicator circuit

Nearly there! I’m calling this the indicator circuit, but this assembly controls your headlings, fog lamps and full-beam. We’re just concentrating on the indicators!

1. Flip the assembly over and unscrew the two phillips-head screws and gently pry the cover off.

Indicator stalk screws

2. This will reveal the back of the circuit. There’s another screw to remove, then again some more careful prying around all sides of this assembly. There’s a wire connected so careful of that (and it may be best to release it from the track it’s held in to give you more slack).

Back of indicator circuit

And here it is: the indicator circuit. That green stuff is the corosion of the copper contacts (this picture is after I removed the grease that lubricates the indicator stalk mechanism). You can see the main track itself is dirty and corroded, so the circuit isn’t going to complete when the train runs along it.

Indicator circuit – plates

This is the indicator ‘train’ that runs along the tracks to complete the circuit depending on which way the stalk is pushed:

Indicator train

Clean it up

I dipped cotton buds in household vinegar and let it soak before rubbing it with the cotton buds and with a scouring pad. I probably spent about 15 minutes on it, and got it pretty clean with just those tools.

Cleaned tracks

After this was done I applied a small amount of the automative grease to the tracks and tips of the ‘train’.

Reassemble Jonny Five (put it back together)

Reassembly is just reversing these steps, remembering to ensure clips and screws are secure. If you moved the cable when detaching the indicator circuit make sure you put it back in it’s track so it doesn’t get caught in anything. Also remember to plug the electrical plugs back in. Last thing you want is to put it all back together, connect the battery and realise you forgot to plug something in.

The pliers bit is again the most tricky bit, as I found it’s possible for the band to slip off which can be awkward when trying to get the black clip back onto the steering column. Patience and taking it slowly should serve you right.

Once the wheel is assembled, reconnect your battery, put your key in the ignition and test. Hopefully you’ll now have working indicators again!

It’s alive!