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Car Steering Wheel Buttons Not Working: 8 Common Issues

Have you ever tried to adjust the volume on your car radio only to find that the steering wheel buttons aren’t working? If so, don’t panic. There are a few common causes for this issue; you can easily solve most of them with basic troubleshooting.

Sometimes you can solve the issue by changing the fuse that controls the audio system. It’s important to check this fuse before doing anything else, as it is often the simplest and quickest fix for a malfunctioning steering wheel audio control. If changing the fuse doesn’t work, you may need to check your vehicle’s wiring to ensure there are no loose connections or broken wires.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some potential causes of a malfunctioning steering wheel and how you can get it back up and running in no time. 

Faulty Wiring

car wires
Photo by: Pixabay

Wiring is an intricate part of any car, and it can be difficult to pinpoint where exactly the problem originates. However, if you suspect faulty wiring, it could mean that the wiring between your steering wheel and car dashboard has become loose or disconnected.

To inspect this, first locate the main power cable that connects your steering wheel to your dashboard. If it appears frayed or broken in any way, then it’s likely that this is causing your buttons not to work properly

Bad Fuses

Blown or bad fuse
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Fuses are another common cause of malfunctioning buttons on a car’s steering wheel. If one of your fuses has gone bad, it can prevent power from getting to the buttons on your steering wheel or even prevent them from functioning correctly altogether.

To check for any bad fuses, locate the fuse box in your car and examine each fuse individually for signs of wear or damage. If you find any broken fuses, replace them with new ones as soon as possible. 

Wear On The Buttons

steering wheel controls
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Over time, buttons and connections on your steering wheel can become worn down due to regular use and exposure to heat, moisture, or dust particles in the air which can lead to malfunctioning buttons.

To fix this issue, take off the cover of your steering wheel and inspect all of its components closely for wear or damage. If you find any damaged parts, replace them with new ones as soon as possible so that they don’t interfere with the functionality of your steering wheel buttons anymore.  

Software Malfunction Due To Outdated Firmware

car software
Photo by: Pixabay

If your car steering wheel buttons are not working, it may be due to outdated firmware. The firmware is the basic program that runs the software in your car’s steering wheel. It controls all functions of the steering wheel, including the buttons. If any of these functions get out of sync or are blocked by faulty code, your buttons will stop working properly.

If you’re experiencing this issue, update your car’s software to ensure it is compatible with the latest version available from its manufacturer, and try again after rebooting your vehicle’s computer system. 

Stuck Buttons Due To Debris Buildup

clean steering wheel
Photo by: Pexels

Another potential cause for non-functioning car steering wheel buttons is debris buildup inside the buttons. Over time, dirt and other debris can accumulate inside the buttons, making them stick or preventing them from working.

If this is the case, you’ll need to access the backside of the buttons and clean out any debris that might be lodged inside them using a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol. Once you’ve done that, test the button again and see if it works properly. 

Damaged Steering Wheel Frame  

broken steering wheel column
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

Another possible cause for a non-working car steering wheel button could be a damaged steering wheel frame or casing around it. This could happen if something has been dropped onto the area or if there has been an accident that caused parts of it to break off completely or become misaligned with each other.

In this case, you’ll want to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic so they can inspect and repair any damage that might have been done to the frame around your buttons. They will be able to replace missing parts so that everything works like new again.

Malfunctioning Control Module

Electronic Control Unit Module
Photo by: Unsplash

The control module is responsible for keeping track of all the inputs from your steering wheel buttons, including volume up and down, skip forward and back, mute, etc. It uses these inputs to send signals to other parts of the car’s electrical system so that they can do their job. If the control module isn’t functioning properly, your steering wheel buttons may not work.

To identify if this is the problem, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic so they can inspect and replace any faulty components in the control module. Once they have done that, test the buttons to ensure they are working again.

Dead Battery 

dead battery
Photo by: Pixabay

A dead battery is perhaps the most obvious cause behind non-functioning steering wheel buttons. If the battery in your car has gone bad and isn’t providing enough power to the rest of the system, then none of your buttons may work.

To fix this issue, check that your car’s battery is properly charged and replace the battery if needed. You may also need to reset the steering wheel control unit before your buttons start working again.


How Do You Clean Sticky Steering Wheel Controls?

To clean sticky steering wheel controls, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe off any dirt or debris that has built up inside the buttons. Follow your car’s manual instructions to safely access and clean the steering wheel buttons.

Can A Faulty Steering Wheel Button Cause Damage?

Yes, a faulty steering wheel button can cause damage if it is not properly repaired. If the control module or other parts of the system are not functioning correctly, it can lead to miscommunications between your car’s electrical system and the buttons. This can lead to further issues and costly repairs.

What Happens If The Steering Wheel Control Unit Fails?

If the steering wheel control unit fails, none of your car’s buttons will work properly. You will need to reset the unit by disconnecting it from the battery and reconnecting it. If this doesn’t work, you may need to take your car to a qualified mechanic to have it inspected and repaired.


Sammy is a lifelong gearhead who's been wrenching on cars and bikes since he was tall enough to reach the pedals. These days, he spends his time writing about all things automotive, from new performance products to how to get the most out of your old ride. When he's not behind a computer, you'll find him at the race track or out on a trail somewhere.

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