I bought my GT-R with all of the bells and whistles fully functional. This means my HICAS had not been deleted or modified in any way. That’s one of the reasons I picked this particular one.
A few months after purchasing it, I came across a vintage NISMO steering wheel that I bought for the car. In the process of changing steering wheel from the MOMO that was on there to the NISMO – I managed to lose track of the “zero” position of the steering angle sensor that is built into the steering wheel’s clock spring.
In doing my research to try and resolve the issue, I discovered two things:
- Lots of people have the same problem.
- Nobody has an easy fix for it.
I should pause for a moment to explain that one critical piece of information below only applies to early R32’s with HICAS. At some point mid-production Nissan actually changed the 0° orientation for the steering angle sensor. So, as with any writeup of this sort, your mileage may vary.
First thing to know if you are looking to get an aftermarket steering wheel for your R32 with HICAS: you absolutely need to get a HICAS-compatible steering wheel boss. They have notches in the back that accept the protruding tabs on the clockspring (which is also where the horn ground wire plugs into).
If you don’t already have problems with HICAS and you’re changing the steering wheel, be very intentional not to move the steering angle sensor. Put your new boss and wheel on, making sure to notch the tabs in properly, and you’re good to go.
If you do have problems with HICAS and your HICAS light is on all the time – I can’t help you. But, if your HICAS light comes on only after 10-15 minutes of driving the car and then resets again after you shut the car off…read on.
The HICAS computer has a “Neutral Signal” that is either “on” or “off” at any given point in time. The Neutral Signal is what confirms to the HICAS brain that the steering wheel is pointed straight. HICAS is smart. It knows when the car is going straight. So if the Neutral Signal is “off” while the car is going straight for a while, HICAS will throw an error, indicated by the HICAS light turning on in your gauge cluster, and your HICAS system will be shut down.
The Neutral Signal has about a 4° margin of error that it allows. So, your steering angle sensor can be off by up to 4° in either direction (due to years of varying alignments or play in the steering wheel boss notch) and everything will still work. More than that, and you will need to re-align your steering angle sensor.
How the heck do I re-align my steering angle sensor?
This was the question I tried to answer for myself using the internets. I got close. Really close. Thanks to some very helpful members of www.gtr.co.uk I was able to determine that for an early R32 the tab on the steering angle sensor needed to be at roughly 7:30 o’clock. So I re-clocked my steering wheel boss and got it roughly into position. (This is the bit of information that doesn’t apply to you if you don’t have an early R32. Don’t ask me what year they changed it…I don’t know!)
My HICAS light still came on after driving for 10-15 minutes.
I decided that the only way to get it right would be if I actually had some sort of a readout from the steering angle sensor that told me what signal it was sending to the HICAS brain.
Long story short: CONSULT is Nissan’s pre-OBD proprietary diagnostics protocol. Plug a 14-pin serial cable into the car (port is located under the fuse panel cover by the driver’s right knee) and the other end into a computer and you have access to TONS of live data coming from the car’s various systems. One of them is HICAS.
I bought a CONSULT to USB cable off of Amazon.com (just search NISSAN CONSULT USB and you’ll find a bevy of them). I then started playing around with several of the free applications available online. Some were relatively fun to play with but none of them worked with the HICAS computer.
So I decided I’d probably have to…you know…pay money for a program that works with the car. I found Nissan Datascan (www.nissandatascan.com) and downloaded it. It connected to my car on the first try…so I PayPal’ed the ~$42 USD for a license and 2 minutes later I had unlocked all of the features and was looking at a live read-out of my steering angle sensor – complete with a visual representation of the steering wheel itself.
I was able to determine that my steering angle sensor was off by somewhere between 12° and 14°. This was the orientation when the computer was telling me the steering wheel should be straight:
Fortunately, my steering wheel boss had enough adjustments in it that I was able to reconfigure the notches on the back side to rotate it 14°. Now, when my wheel is centered the HICAS readout on my laptop says 0°. Great success!
So if you have the HICAS issue where your error light comes on after 10-15 minutes of highway driving – chances are you need to straighten out your steering angle sensor. The easiest way to do that is to spend $30 on a cable, $40 on a piece of software, and 45 minutes making the adjustment.
Got questions? PM me on any of the Skyline forums. User name: mk2tmr2