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Steering Wheel and Driver Airbag Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Wheel and Driver Airbag Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$200

Talent:

****

Tools:

Phillips & flat-head screwdriver, 16mm socket set, T30, T25 Torx bits

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Steering wheel, driver airbag, multi-function switches

Hot Tip:

Be careful when working with clockspring

Performance Gain:

Added Safety

Complementary Modification:

Replace steering wheel with upgraded model

The BMW E60 steering wheel and steering column house a number of electrical and electronic controls. Steering wheel components include:

  • Horn button
  • Driver airbag
  • Steering wheel multifunction switches (includes radio and mobile phone control switches)
  • Steering angle sensor
  • Clock spring (electrical contact at base of steering wheel for components listed above)

Steering column components include:

  • Steering column switch cluster (includes turn signal switch, wiper & washer switch, headlight beam switch, cruise control switch, on-board computer (BC) switch (if equipped)
  • Steering column adjuster switch
  • Steering wheel heater switch (if equipped)

Repairs or replacement of most of these components requires that you remove the airbag and steering wheel first. When you remove the driver airbag, it is important you disconnect the battery and wait at least 10 minutes for the system to power down. Once the airbag is removed, store it in a safe place facing up. Do not connect the vehicle battery while the airbag is removed. Fault codes will be set if you do so. If you do not have the ability to clear fault codes, you will be stuck with a warning lamp until you can have it cleared. 

The steering wheel multifunction switches, the clock spring and the steering angle sensor can be replaced once the driver airbag and steering wheel are removed. The steering wheel also has to be removed to replace the steering column switch cluster and the upper steering column trim panels.

To avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Make sure your steering wheel is centered and the front wheels are pointing straight ahead.

Disconnect the negative battery cable. See our tech article on battery replacing and reconnecting notes.


Standard steering wheel: Working at rear of steering wheel, remove two Torx T30 head screws.
Figure 1

Standard steering wheel: Working at rear of steering wheel, remove two Torx T30 head screws. Left side of airbag shown; right side is similar. There are two small access holes in the back of steering wheel.


Sport steering wheel: Insert a screwdriver into hole in side of steering wheel.
Figure 2

Sport steering wheel: Insert a screwdriver into hole in side of steering wheel. Push airbag retaining spring toward airbag to release.

Pull airbag off steering wheel enough to access electrical connectors.
Figure 3

Pull airbag off steering wheel enough to access electrical connectors. Then disconnect electrical connectors by releasing retaining tabs and pulling off (green arrow).

Using a breaker bar with a 16mm socket, remove steering wheel center bolt (green arrow).
Figure 4

Using a breaker bar with a 16mm socket, remove steering wheel center bolt (green arrow).

Steering wheel center is marked by BMW at the factory.
Figure 5

Steering wheel center is marked by BMW at the factory. Check that these marks (on the wheel and steering shaft) are aligned before removing steering wheel (green arrow). If they are not aligned, make your own marks so you get wheel back in same position it was in.


Lift steering wheel off steering column shaft.

To replace steering wheel multi-function switches, remove T25 Torx fasteners (green arrows) for switch you want to replace, then remove switch from airbag.
Figure 6

To replace steering wheel multi-function switches, remove T25 Torx fasteners (green arrows) for switch you want to replace, then remove switch from airbag. Install new switch and tighten fasteners.


Installing is reverse of removal. Once airbag is installed, reconnect battery.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:21:00 AM