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Steering Wheel & Driver Airbag Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Wheel & Driver Airbag Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$600

Talent:

****

Tools:

15mm socket on ' drive ratchet, T25 & T10 Torx driver

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)
BMW M5 Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Steering wheel, driver airbag, multi-function switches, clock spring

Hot Tip:

Use a thin T20 Torx driver when releasing airbag spring

Performance Gain:

Access to components behind steering wheel

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

To repair or replace most of these components you have to 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.

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're 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.

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T25 Torx (red arrow) through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until the airbag releases.
Figure 1

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T25 Torx (red arrow) through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until the airbag releases. This is not the easiest airbag to remove. It can be a pain to release the springs. If you don't use a narrow Torx driver, it can be hard to feel your way around to locate the spring. The photo shows the airbag released from the steering wheel. Note the gap between the airbag and the steering wheel.

Pull the airbag off the steering wheel enough to access the electrical connectors.
Figure 2

Pull the airbag off the steering wheel enough to access the electrical connectors. There is one main connector. Press the release tab to release the connector (red arrow). Store your airbag in a safe place, with the trim panel facing up.

Next, you have to disconnect the steering wheel electronics electrical connector (red arrows).
Figure 3

Next, you have to disconnect the steering wheel electronics electrical connector (red arrows). Pull the electrical connectors straight off to remove them. Using a breaker bar with a 15mm socket, remove the steering wheel center bolt. While loosening, hold the steering wheel still and slowly break the bolt free. The steering wheel center is marked by BMW at the factory. Check that these marks are aligned before removing the steering wheel (yellow arrow). If they are not aligned, make your own marks so you get the wheel back in the same position it was in.

Lift the steering wheel off the steering column shaft.
Figure 4

Lift the steering wheel off the steering column shaft. Do your best not to move the clock spring once the steering wheel is removed. There is a small plastic lock (red arrow) that helps to keep the clock spring centered. However, do not rely on this. Installing is the reverse of removal. Once the airbag is installed, reconnect the battery.

If you want to replace the switches on your steering wheel, start by removing the airbag.
Figure 5

If you want to replace the switches on your steering wheel, start by removing the airbag. Then disconnect the switch electrical connectors (green arrows) by pulling them straight out of the switches (inset). Then remove the four T25 Torx fasteners (red arrows). Lift the switch assembly off the steering wheel. Note the wiring harness routing for reinstalling.

Place the switches on the work bench with the switches facing down.
Figure 6

Place the switches on the work bench with the switches facing down. Remove the three T20 Torx fasteners for the switch you are replacing. There are six total for both switches (red arrows). Note the position of any washers (inset). These are usually at the top corners of the switches. With the fasteners removed, separate the switch from the mounting bracket.

Lever the locking tab (red arrow).
Figure 7

Lever the locking tab (red arrow). Then pull the switch up to separate it from the trim panel. Reverse the steps to install the new switches.

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Comments and Suggestions:
duke Comments: this is all well and good, thank you...BUT WHAT IS THE STEERING WHEEL BOLT TORQUE TO TIGHTEN IT BACK ONTO THE COLUMN???? I am hoping we are talking about a 2007 530xi E60. :
December 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
elitauto Comments: How to disconnect the electrical connectors green arrows ? Everything is braking around then but they don't come out ! Is there a switch or a blocker? Thanks
June 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What figure number? There are no connectors pointed to by green arrows. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Alex Comments: Hi, on figure 3, you got 2 connectors, what is on the right side?
Regards!
November 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The right side shows the large view and the left shows an inset with a zoomed view of releasing the connector. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Darwin Comments: HI, Im trying like crazy to find out how to replace the side curtains airbags on the E60 E61 model.

Everything is removed so far, but im stuck at the front, where the airbag meets the dashboard. I dont know if the whole dashboard needs to be removed or if there is a "secret tip" in order to pull the airbag out.

Can you please help me out?

Thanks!
April 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be two Torx bolts that have to be removed, right at the instrument panel airbag junction. I would need the last seven of your VIN to be sure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 1/16/2017 02:40:29 AM