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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:

16mm socket on ' drive ratchet, T20 Torx driver

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

Parts Required:

Steering wheel, driver airbag

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 MINI R56 steering wheel and steering column house a number of electrical and electronic controls. The 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)

The steering column components include:

Steering column switch cluster, includes turn signal switch, wiper and washer switch, headlight beam switch, cruise control switch, on-board computer (BC) 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.

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.

The MINI R56 steering wheel and steering column house a number of electrical and electronic controls.
Figure 1

The MINI R56 steering wheel and steering column house a number of electrical and electronic controls. Steering wheel components include: the horn button, driver airbag (red arrow), steering wheel multifunction switches (includes radio and mobile phone control switches) and clock spring (electrical contact at base of steering wheel for components listed above).

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T20 Torx (red arrow) through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until airbag releases.
Figure 2

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T20 Torx (red arrow) through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until airbag releases.

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T20 Torx through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until airbag releases.
Figure 3

Working at the bottom of your steering wheel, insert a T20 Torx through the small hole and push the airbag retaining spring up toward the center of the steering wheel until 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. Push the Torx driver straight up; the airbag should release.

Pull the airbag off the steering wheel enough to access the electrical connectors.
Figure 4

Pull the airbag off the steering wheel enough to access the electrical connectors. There are three electrical connectors. If you're only removing the airbag remove the upper and lower connectors (red arrows). If you're remove the steering wheel remove the right side connector too (green arrow).

Remove the upper connector (green arrow) by pressing the release tab and pulling the connector straight off.
Figure 5

Remove the upper connector (green arrow) by pressing the release tab and pulling the connector straight off. Then pull the lower connector straight off. If you are removing the steering wheel, remove the final electrical connector (red arrow).

Store your airbag in a safe place, with the trim panel facing up.
Figure 6

Store your airbag in a safe place, with the trim panel facing up.

Using a breaker bar with a 16mm socket, remove the steering wheel center bolt (red arrow).
Figure 7

Using a breaker bar with a 16mm socket, remove the steering wheel center bolt (red arrow). While loosening, hold the steering wheel still and slowly break the bolt free. Be sure the right side connector is disconnected (green arrow).

The steering wheel center is marked by BMW at the factory.
Figure 8

The steering wheel center is marked by BMW at the factory. Check that these marks are aligned before removing the steering wheel (red arrows). 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 9

Lift the steering wheel off the steering column shaft. Do your best not to move the clock spring once the steering wheel is removed. Tape the clock spring in place to prevent damage. Installing is the reverse of removal. Once the airbag is installed, reconnect the battery.

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