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BMW E39 Steering Wheel Removal
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Steering Wheel Removal

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$0

Talent:

****

Tools:

Phillips screwdriver, 16mm socket set, long T30 Torx bits, T10 Torx bits needle nose pliers.

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Steering wheel, driver airbag, multi-function switches

Hot Tip:

You can also use this procedure to check the slip rings for the horn operation

Performance Gain:

You can align a misaligned steering wheel, You can also remove the airbag clock spring.

Complementary Modification:

You can now install a custom steering wheel

There are a few reasons you may need to remove your steering wheel. It is the first step to changing components such as the airbag clock spring, turn signal switches and aligning a misaligned steering wheel. In this tech article we will outline each of these procedures.

Disconnect negative battery cable and wait 15 minutes before working on your airbag. See our tech article on battery replacing and reconnecting notes.

Standard steering wheel: At the back of the steering wheel there are 2 small holes (one on each side) at the 3 and 9 o'clock position.
Figure 1

Standard steering wheel: At the back of the steering wheel there are 2 small holes (one on each side) at the 3 and 9 o'clock position. With the ignition key on (remember the battery is disconnected) turn the steering wheel 90 degrees (either direction). From the bottom of the steering wheel insert a long enough T30 bit straight into the hole until it becomes seated in the fastener and loosen the screw. These screws are captive and will stay in the steering wheel even when fully unthreaded. Turn the wheel 90 degrees in the other direction and repeat the procedure.

Sport steering wheel: The procedure is the same as the Standard steering wheel.
Figure 2

Sport steering wheel: The procedure is the same as the Standard steering wheel.

Now that the airbag is loose pull it away from the steering wheel and pivot it toward the passenger side of the vehicle.
Figure 3

Now that the airbag is loose pull it away from the steering wheel and pivot it toward the passenger side of the vehicle. There is a single wire connection (green arrow) near the top that needs to be pulled straight out to unplug.

The airbag firing plug is mounted directly in the middle of the back of the airbag.
Figure 4

The airbag firing plug is mounted directly in the middle of the back of the airbag. Pull this connector straight out also.

There are two connectors on your left (green arrows) as you face the back of the airbag that pull straight out from the airbag / switch assembly.
Figure 5

There are two connectors on your left (green arrows) as you face the back of the airbag that pull straight out from the airbag / switch assembly.

For safety reasons also position an airbag with the airbag facing up in a safe place out of the sun.
Figure 6

For safety reasons also position an airbag with the airbag facing up in a safe place out of the sun.

With a 16mm socket on an extension and a long handle ratchet or breaker bar loosen the steering wheel retaining bolt.
Figure 7

With a 16mm socket on an extension and a long handle ratchet or breaker bar loosen the steering wheel retaining bolt. This bolt is tight and should be tight when reinstalling. Do not use the ignition lock to counter act the force of removing the nut, if needed get a friend to hold the wheel while you break the nut free.

There are 2 lines that should be lined up at the 6 oÂ'clock position where the steering wheel mark (yellow arrow) meets the steering shaft (green arrow).
Figure 8

There are 2 lines that should be lined up at the 6 oÂ'clock position where the steering wheel mark (yellow arrow) meets the steering shaft (green arrow). Here we can see that we are one spline off! This alignment is set by BMW at the factory and should be aligned when the wheels are pointed straight ahead. If the car went down the road with the steering wheel straight you can make your own mark so you can install the steering wheel at the same position on the shaft when you reinstall it.

Before pulling off the steering wheel you need to drop the lower cover under the steering column.
Figure 9

Before pulling off the steering wheel you need to drop the lower cover under the steering column. Loosen the one Phillips screw at the bottom cover. A plastic insert should come out with it otherwise pop it out.

Pull down on the bottom cover and pull it away from the dash until it comes out.
Figure 10

Pull down on the bottom cover and pull it away from the dash until it comes out.

There are 2 electrical connectors that attach the steering wheel to the steering column.
Figure 11

There are 2 electrical connectors that attach the steering wheel to the steering column. The flat connector (yellow arrow) needs to be pulled straight out to unplug it.

A locking tab (green arrow) can be pushed to the right side to allow the second airbag connector to slide forward (away from you) and come off its mount.
Figure 12

A locking tab (green arrow) can be pushed to the right side to allow the second airbag connector to slide forward (away from you) and come off its mount. This may make the next step of unplugging it easier.

On the steering wheel side of the connector squeeze the locking tabs together and pull the connector straight out.
Figure 13

On the steering wheel side of the connector squeeze the locking tabs together and pull the connector straight out.

You can now pull the steering wheel off of the steering shaft.
Figure 14

You can now pull the steering wheel off of the steering shaft. You can rock the steering wheel from left to right to make pulling it towards you easier. If you need to replace your clock spring, use the following steps to do so.

There is a white plastic cover inside the steering wheel airbag enclosure.
Figure 15

There is a white plastic cover inside the steering wheel airbag enclosure. Pry up on the three mounting tangs (green arrows) and lift up the cover. The wiring will still be connected so you cannot remove it but you can position it out of your way.

Remove the T10 ground screw that is threaded into the steering wheel frame.
Figure 16

Remove the T10 ground screw that is threaded into the steering wheel frame.

You can remove the two male blade style electrical terminals with a pair of needle nose pliers.
Figure 17

You can remove the two male blade style electrical terminals with a pair of needle nose pliers. At this point separate the wiring that passes through the access hole to the back of the steering wheel.

You can now flip over the steering wheel and expose the airbag clock spring.
Figure 18

You can now flip over the steering wheel and expose the airbag clock spring. Remove the three T10 Torx screws (green arrows) that hold the clock spring to the back of the steering wheel.

As you remove the airbag clock spring feed the wire through the access hole so you do not damage any of the wiring or connectors.
Figure 19

As you remove the airbag clock spring feed the wire through the access hole so you do not damage any of the wiring or connectors.

Whether you are using the old or the new clock spring or installing a new one the clock spring must be installed in a specific position.
Figure 20

Whether you are using the old or the new clock spring or installing a new one the clock spring must be installed in a specific position. If you reuse the clock spring make sure you install it in the same position you removed it. Notice the position of the inner tang that rotates with the steering wheel (green arrow) and the wiring connector (yellow arrow) that stays fixed to the steering column in the same position it was removed in. If you change the position when you reinstall it you will break the clock spring when your turn the steering wheel lock to lock. Installing is reverse of removal. Once airbag is installed, reconnect battery.

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Comments and Suggestions:
et81476 Comments: Thanks Nick,
all I asked - how do I know that it is centred/specific position as you say!
November 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say, because it could be 180° out, especially on used one. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ET81476 Comments: I have to replace the clock spring housing, I have a second hand coming. I am sure the housing has to be prepared in a certain way so that the wheel can turn end to end?
with other words the cable connection must be pre-set?
November 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I can't comment on a used part, as I don;t know if it was centered when removed, etc.

New parts comes in the center position, you install it with the drive wheels pointing straight ahead and the steering wheel centered. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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