Mini Cooper Parts Catalog Mini Cooper Accessories Catalog Mini Cooper Technical Articles Mini Cooper Tech Forums
 
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
 >  >
Changing Airbag and Steering Wheel
 
Bookmark and Share

Pelican Technical Article:

Changing Airbag and Steering Wheel

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$150 to $250

Talent:

**

Tools:

Torx driver set

Applicable Models:

R50 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2002-06)
R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)

Parts Required:

3 spoke steering wheel and airbag

Hot Tip:

Be sure to disconnect the battery before starting.

Performance Gain:

Great improvement in driving feel

Complementary Modification:

Aftermarket shift knob, replace steering column switches
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2015. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One of the most exciting and rewarding projects that you can perform on your MINI is upgrading to a 3 spoke steering wheel. Let's face it: the stock 2 spoke wheel is not something that many people can get too excited about.

The first step is to disconnect the battery and wait at least 15 minutes (see Project 84 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. Make sure that you turn the ignition completely off and remove the keys from the lock. This is important. I have heard of people changing the wheel with the keys in the ignition, only to trigger the airbag light once the battery is reconnected.

The first step is purchase the three spoke wheel and the airbag. Unfortunately, the airbag for the two-spoke wheel only fits the two spoke wheel. I have seen the airbag and the wheel going for around $350 on eBay, or you can purchase the combo from your local BMW dealer. Some people even like to purchase the John Cooper Works steering wheel which has a combination of carbon fiber panels and leather. In our case, we found a three spoke wheel off a later MINI Cooper S along with the airbag through a local wrecking yard (See Figure 1). Keep in mind that there is a bit of confusion regarding the Mk 1 MINI steering wheels and the later 2007-on steering wheels. There seems to be a bit of overlap in the part numbers. That being said, the easiest way to determine the difference is to look at the slot in the center of the new wheel. If the slot curves as seen in Figure 1, it can be used on the Mk 1 (2002-07) MINI's. If it is straight, it is for the 2008-on MINI's. Check the slot on your car before you purchase a wheel.

Locate the two holes on the back side of the steering wheel. Inside each is a T30 Torx bolt that secures the airbag to the front of the steering wheel (See Figure 2). Loosen the two Torx bolts and then carefully remove the airbag from the wheel (See Figure 3 and Figure 4).

On the backside of the airbag are two electrical connections. These are removed by prying up on the outer plastic tab, which then allows the connection to be removed from the airbag (See Figure 5). There are also two electrical connections that must be removed from the column before you remove the wheel. These connections control the multi-function buttons on the steering wheel (See Figure 6).

The next step is to remove the wheel itself. If you don't happen to own an impact wrench, there is another neat trick you can use to remove the steering wheel. First, take one of those 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 16mm bolt. Compressing together the steering wheel lock handle and the long handle attached to the socket will enable you to loosen up the steering wheel bolt. 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 bolt. 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 (See Figure 7).

Once you have the nut off of the wheel, 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. Once loose, pull the wheel off and carefully route the airbag electrical connections through the slot in the steering wheel (See Figure 8).

Now, take note of the locating pin on the steering angle sensor (the white plastic disc on the column), this pin is designed to fit into the back of the steering wheel. Rotate the white plastic disc until the pin lines up with the wheel and push the 3 spoke wheel on, making sure to line up the marks on both the wheel and also the steering shaft (See Figure 9 and Figure 10). Take care when routing the airbag electrical connections through the slot in the new wheel.

Thread in the 16mm bolt and torque the steering wheel to the steering shaft to 45Nm (33ft/lbs.). Take the airbag connections and secure them into the new airbag. There will be a black and a green connection (See Figure 11). Now plug the two electrical connectors from the new wheel into the plugs on the steering angle sensor. The functions on the new wheel should work the same as the old one.

On the back of the new airbag are two large plastic fingers designed to pop into the two spring clips on the inside of the new wheel. After you have plugged in all of the electrical connections, pop the new airbag into the steering wheel. Make sure that you line up the fingers with the spring clips and that no electrical connections are in the way (See Figure 12 and Figure 13).

Now reconnect the battery and turn the ignition on. The airbag light should go out if you followed all the steps in the procedure. Now check all the functions on the new wheel (See Figure 14).

Changing the steering wheel from a 2 spoke to a 3 spoke is a great first time project for the MINI owner.
Figure 1

Changing the steering wheel from a 2 spoke to a 3 spoke is a great first time project for the MINI owner. Shown here is the 3 spoke wheel without the airbag.

Shown here is the factory two spoke wheel that came on some early MINIs.
Figure 2

Shown here is the factory two spoke wheel that came on some early MINIs. Changing it to the later three spoke wheel is relatively easy.

Disconnect the battery and then locate the two holes on the back side of the steering wheel.
Figure 3

Disconnect the battery and then locate the two holes on the back side of the steering wheel. Inside each is a Torx bolt that secures the airbag to the front of the steering wheel.

Loosen the two Torx bolts and then carefully remove the airbag from the wheel.
Figure 4

Loosen the two Torx bolts and then carefully remove the airbag from the wheel.

On the backside of the airbag are two electrical connections.
Figure 5

On the backside of the airbag are two electrical connections. These are removed by prying up on the outer plastic tab, which then allows the connection to be removed form the airbag (green arrows).

In the center of the steering wheel is a 16mm bolt that secures the wheel in place (green arrow).
Figure 6

In the center of the steering wheel is a 16mm bolt that secures the wheel in place (green arrow). Remove the electrical connections going from the steering wheel to the steering column (yellow arrows).

Use a 1/2 drive socket to loosen and remove the 16mm bolt in the center of the wheel.
Figure 7

Use a 1/2 drive socket to loosen and remove the 16mm bolt in the center of the wheel. you may need to counterhold the steering wheel to keep it from rotating.

With the center bolt removed, you can see the alignment marks on both the wheel and the steering shaft (green arrows).
Figure 8

With the center bolt removed, you can see the alignment marks on both the wheel and the steering shaft (green arrows).

Now pull the steering wheel off the steering shaft and carefully route the wiring through the hole in the steering wheel.
Figure 9

Now pull the steering wheel off the steering shaft and carefully route the wiring through the hole in the steering wheel.

Note the hole in the steering wheel and also the pin on the column.
Figure 10

Note the hole in the steering wheel and also the pin on the column. (green arrows) These two should line up with each other as well as the alignment marks on the wheel and shaft.

Plug in the electrical connections for both the large plug (green arrow) and the smaller plug (yellow arrow).
Figure 11

Plug in the electrical connections for both the large plug (green arrow) and the smaller plug (yellow arrow).

Take note of the two spring clips (green arrows) the airbag is secured to the wheel by these two clips.
Figure 12

Take note of the two spring clips (green arrows) the airbag is secured to the wheel by these two clips.

Next, plug the airbag connections into the new airbag for the 3 spoke wheel.
Figure 13

Next, plug the airbag connections into the new airbag for the 3 spoke wheel. The green arrow shows the locating finger mounted on the airbag. The yellow arrow shows the spring clip that holds the finger. Pop the airbag into these clips.

Shown here is the three spoke wheel installed.
Figure 14

Shown here is the three spoke wheel installed. Reconnect the battery and check the functions on the wheel.

Bookmark and Share
Comments and Suggestions:
Pesterkelley Comments: Question, I have the 2005 3 spoke steering wheel and I was told that if I buy the 2009 steering wheel and air bag that they fit and will work...Any one know if this is true... as I have a 2009 air bag now and it wont fit the 2005 steering wheel but the guy who sold it says that if I change out the wheel itself it will work..my steering wheel is pretty worn
May 9, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have no info on that swap. Big difference in vehicle there, so I would assume not going to work.

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
 
Jody girl Comments: My husband recently purchased a wrecked 2005 Mini Cooper. He does body work but has never worked on a cooper. Where can we figur out what airbags we need? And do u know of a reasonable place to order parts?
August 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Fault codes will identify which bags are faulty, or the bags that are blown.
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
 
Luis Comments: Do you know where I can find the two electrical connections to the airbag? I accidently broke them. Thank for this awesome website
July 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 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
 
SC Comments: Thanks for the reply.

I figured it all out – I had a Gen2 lead for the MFSW spokes as I was fitting the Gen2 black spokes to the Gen1 JCW wheel....So it was a case of chopping of the 6pin plug and reattaching the original Gen1 8pin plug....All sorted and working now.

Thanks for the write up though, helpful as always.
May 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
SC Comments: I'm about to finally do this mod..!

Have everything together: 3 Spoke Wheel JCW, new airbag, MFSW Spokes...

However, looking at some of these images closely, the large plug from the MFSW cable seems to be 8 pin....The cable that I have supplied with the new MFSW spokes seems smaller and only has 6 pins......Does anyone know if there were different MFSW 'Connector Lines'...?

Thanks
April 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not sure. 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
 

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    

 

[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Project/Wish List]
  [Privacy Statement]  [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc. -    DMCA Registered Agent Contact Page

Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:13:49 AM