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Steering Wheel - 3-Spoke Wheel Upgrade
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Wheel - 3-Spoke Wheel Upgrade

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$150+

Talent:

**

Tools:

Torx driver set

Applicable Models:

Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)

Parts Required:

Steering wheel and hub adapter

Hot Tip:

Use a steering lock bar to help loosen the wheel

Performance Gain:

Good improvement in driving feel â€

Complementary Modification:

Upgrade your dashboard information computer
101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One of the most exciting and rewarding projects that you can perform on your Boxster is the replacement of the standard four-spoke steering wheel. In addition to the gorgeous factory three-spoke wheel, there are a wide variety of aftermarket wheels to choose from. Let's face it: the stock Boxster wheel is not something that many people can get too excited about. Installing a wheel of your choosing cures all that.

It's important to mention a word about safety here. All the later-model Boxsters came from the factory equipped with driver's side airbags built into the steering wheel. Airbags are important pieces of safety equipment, and I fully recommend keeping them in place. That said, you cannot install a non-factory aftermarket steering wheel and also keep your airbag in place, unless you purchase an aftermarket wheel specifically made for the Boxster with an integrated airbag (Aitwe manufactures one such wheel). With that in mind, I recommend that you install an aftermarket wheel only if your car originally didn't come with one, or if you are converting your car into a club racer or weekend track car. You can still choose to install the wheel into your street car, but be forewarned: airbags are probably the best protection you will have in a crash. Also, state and local regulations may legally restrict what you can do with your airbag.

That said, I recommend upgrading to the factory three-spoke wheel with the integrated airbag. The wheel is a bolt-on upgrade, and it looks very good too on your Porsche: particularly the gold crest in the center of the airbag.

The first step is to disconnect the battery and wait at least 15 minutes (see Project 81 for details). This is very important, as the airbag itself is a dangerous explosive package and can be accidentally set off by a variety of factors. Also, the airbag control system is designed to remain operational for up to 15 minutes after the battery has been disconnected. The next step is to remove the airbag from the steering wheel by disconnecting the two T27 Torx screws that attach it to the front of the wheel (see the insets in Figure 2). Extend the steering wheel as far towards the rear of the car as you can go to afford yourself the maximum amount of room to get your torx tool in there. With the screws loosened (they do not come out of the airbag), the airbag should be loose from the wheel: disconnect the small harness, remove it, and place it aside.

The next step is to remove the wheel itself. If you don't happen to own an impact wrench, there is another neat trick that I developed for removing the steering wheel. First, take one of those obnoxiously large, red steering wheel locks and clamp it onto the steering wheel. The long handle on the lock will allow you to gain a significant amount of leverage on the wheel. Then insert the deep socket onto the center steering wheel nut. Compressing together the steering wheel lock handle and the long handle attached to the socket will enable you to loosen up the steering wheel nut. Under no circumstances should you ever turn the steering wheel all the way to the end of the rack and use the end stop to hold the wheel while you remove the nut. The steering wheel has a lot of leverage, and you can easily damage your rack and pinion if you apply a large amount of torque to the wheel.

Once you have the nut off of the wheel, take some white out or a marker pen and mark the steering wheel and the shaft so you know which spline to place it back on. Then simply pull the wheel off of the steering column. If the wheel is stuck on the splines and doesn't want to come off, then take a rubber mallet and gently tap the rear of the wheel until it begins to move. If you are installing an aftermarket wheel, place the new wheel onto the included steering wheel hub, and then onto the car. Be sure that you properly hook up the horn and test it before you tighten the wheel down again. For the Porsche three-spoke wheel, the installation of the new wheel is basically the reverse of the removal process.

Shown here is one of my favorite steering wheels of all time, the Porsche factory three-spoke wheel.
Figure 1

Shown here is one of my favorite steering wheels of all time, the Porsche factory three-spoke wheel. Available as an option on the cars when they were new, this upgrade is pretty spendy (over $1000 for the wheel and the new airbag), but in my opinion, definitely worth it. Remember, you can recover the cost of your new wheel by selling your old airbag on eBay or the classifieds section of PelicanParts.com. The part number for the wheel in black is 996-347-804-54-A28 and the part number for the airbag with the gold crest is 996-803-089-02-A28.

Removal of the airbag itself is pretty easy.
Figure 2

Removal of the airbag itself is pretty easy. Remove the two screws on either side of the back of the steering wheel column by using a T27 torx driver (upper left photo). These holes are somewhat hidden from view, and have tiny access holes in the backside of the steering wheel. The purple arrow shows you where you need to insert the torx driver, and the orange arrow indicates the tail end of the torx bolt. With these two screws loosened, the air bag should simply pop out of the center of the wheel. Disconnect the wire harness to the airbag (blue arrow shows where it plugs into the airbag), and place it aside. Also disconnect the horn wires (green and red arrows).

A trick that I developed for removing steering wheels involves locking the wheel with one of those steering wheel locking devices like ‘The Club'.
Figure 3

A trick that I developed for removing steering wheels involves locking the wheel with one of those steering wheel locking devices like 'The Club'. Don't allow the steering wheel to lock against the mechanism in the lock cylinder, and don't let it bottom out against the steering rack. Using a breaker bar and 'The Club' in this fashion, you can easily remove the steering center nut.

Before you remove the wheel, mark its position on the shaft with a permanent marker (inset).
Figure 4

Before you remove the wheel, mark its position on the shaft with a permanent marker (inset). With the wheel retaining nut removed and the wire harnesses disconnected, you should be able to pull the steering wheel off of the splined hub in the center. Thread the wires through the hole in the wheel as you remove it from the steering shaft.

Although you lose the safety of the airbag, the new steering wheel really spices up the interior of the car, and gives your Porsche that Motorsport feel.
Figure 5

Although you lose the safety of the airbag, the new steering wheel really spices up the interior of the car, and gives your Porsche that Motorsport feel. . If you are removing the airbag, you need to "trick" the airbag computer into thinking that it's still connected. Placing a 0.3 ohm resistor across the two terminals of the connector will indicate to the computer that the airbag is still in place, and it won't trigger your airbag lamp. This should allow your system to continue to properly control and operate the passenger side airbag. The installation of a MOMO aftermarket wheel requires the use of a 1/2-inch washer under the steering wheel nut because the shaft is not threaded deep enough for the aftermarket wheels.

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Comments and Suggestions:
jeff Comments: What 3 spoke steering wheel Porsche Stock fit my 1998 Porsche Boxster 4 spoke ? would like to change it
January 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are many options. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
craigt Comments: will a 997 or 987 wheel fit. i like the look of the three spoke with the round center
January 1, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Fit what vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MYTOY986 Comments: I may be missing something here, but I need to know the size of the nut that holds the wheel to the spline
August 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry about that, I thought you wanted a new fastener. You are looking for a bolt size for your socket. I thibk it is 22 or 24mm. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
somclan Comments: I need to replace the steering wheel airbag on my 99 986. The car was fitted with a 3 spoker as a optional extra. The 3 spoker wheel and airbags a large money. The 4 spoker is a lot less .. Will a four spoker fit right on ..
August 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't believe so. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
HJ Comments: I had the 968 Club Sport steering wheel on my 1986 944 Turbo. The size was exceptional - not too large, not too small. My 2004 Boxster came with the 3-spoke wheel and it feels like I'm driving a truck. Do you know the diameters of these steering wheels, so I know what to look for? Is there a factory optional sport steering wheel I can use on the Boxster to get less of a truck feel?
July 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: As far as I know, all the steering wheels were the same diameter. However there may be aftermarket options. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find optional an optional steering wheel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mikesz Comments: I recently purchased a factory 3 spoke tip wheel to replace my 4 spoke POS. went well the only problem I encountered was the Male plug from the column into the steering wheel.there are 3 brown wires, 2 went into the plug a third wire brown and red was not connected but the plug looks like it can accept a 3 wire. any way to tell what that third wire is for? any advice on how to reconnect it to the plug? My tip thumb switches don't work I am thinking this is why.
July 1, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Without knowing the year of your vehicle I cannot be specific about the wiring. Is the wheel you purchased original equipment for your vehicle? If not, you may lose some fuinction, that is unless you can modify the wiring and electrical connectors. Try grabbing a repair manual with a wiring diagram for your vehicle. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right manual. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mikesz Comments: I think the rubber bushings are worn in my steering wheel frame. I was able to loosen 1 of the t27 screws the other is being difficult. assuming I can loosen the other one I would like to replace them so next time I wont have to go through this pain. any one know where I can buy the 2 t27 torx screws that screw in from the back of the steering wheel?
April 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will be able to help you find the right bolts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
NYC986 Comments: Will a 2008 GT3 steering wheel work in a 98 Boxster?
March 13, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The splines may fit (if your vehicle was a later Boxster it would likely fit) You may have to test it out. With that said, the electronics may not connect the same. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Camo Comments: I have the same question as James Lee. How many watts is that 0.3ohm resistor?
October 19, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's no real amount of current passing through the resistor, so it can basically be any wattage. I.E. it shouldn't matter. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
James Lee Comments: I would like to know how many watts is the 0.3ohm resistor
June 3, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's no current passing through this resistor typically, so there's no real wattage requirement. 1/4 watt should be sufficient. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
RickE Comments: The comment in photo one says the wheel and airbag are about $1,000. but when I went to order parts they add up to about $1,800.00 + Tax. Inflation?
Thanks
August 20, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, I bought mine about three years ago, and it was about $500 each for the wheel and the airbag. I see that all of the parts have been superseded to other numbers, perhaps the new part numbers are more expensive. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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