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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-08-2005, 01:54 PM
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Burrogs Burrogs is offline
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Alcantara Steering Wheel, should I change it?

Ok, I am due for my Inspection I in a few weeks and my steering wheel is startingn to ball up. It's not too bad, but I have been picking at teh fuzz balls to make it better. My question is to all those who have changed theirs out for a M3 wheel or the leather ZHP wheel that comes in the coupe, are you happy with your decision. Also, although I would l ike to hear from all parties, I would especially like to hear from those with alcantara seats since the steering wheel now matches my seats, and a leather one will not. Also, I have not tried shaving my wheel yet, I have just been picking at it.

The last question I have is how many times do you think the dealership will change out a steering wheel? Do you think if they do it now, that they will do it again before my warranty runs up, or do they only do it once under the warranty period?

Thanks everyone for your help.
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2005, 02:21 PM
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I checked out the Alcantara wheel when I ordered my car, and was really happy with the feel of it.

However when I picked up, the car had the leather M wheel installed. I am really happy with this wheel, and prefer it over the (limited) experience I had with the Alcantara. Since there are obvious quality issues with your wheel, why not just change it?
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2005, 02:28 PM
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Mine (at 17K) is a bit fuzzy, but I've been shaving the balls ( ) a couple times and the wheel seems to be alright afterwards.

If they swapped it for a leather perforated one I'd be ok, but I'd kind of rather have the original wheel.
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Last edited by MMME30W; 09-08-2005 at 02:43 PM.
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  #4  
Old 09-08-2005, 02:30 PM
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I don't know, part of the reason why I love my car is the steering wheel. It is so unique and the first thing that I notice when I get in. Also, I wonder if eventually having an alcantara steering wheel will be a rarity, even in the ZHP? Did they give you the M3 wheel? That seems kinda strange if they did.
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  #5  
Old 09-08-2005, 02:36 PM
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Yes, they replaced the Alcantara with the M3 (at least in the ZHP).
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2005, 04:10 PM
ProV1 ProV1 is offline
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the alcantara wheel i saw in a 04 zhp w/ 10k miles had some serious pilling action going on.. i'll have to get it replaced under warranty. i heard that some dealers refuse to replace w/ leather M3 wheels tho. since my warranty runs until middle of 2008, i might get the alcantara now and if it starts pilling again, get the leather wheel..
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  #7  
Old 09-08-2005, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingspan
Mine (at 17K) is a bit fuzzy, but I've been shaving the balls ( ) a couple times and the wheel seems to be alright afterwards.

If they swapped it for a leather perforated one I'd be ok, but I'd kind of rather have the original wheel.
The problem with this strategy(shaving) is that the Alcantara fabric has a finite number of threads, and once you get beyond a certain point, the wheel is toast....at least at the Ten and Two positions.

Regards,
Bob
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  #8  
Old 09-08-2005, 05:24 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob
The problem with this strategy(shaving) is that the Alcantara fabric has a finite number of threads, and once you get beyond a certain point, the wheel is toast....at least at the Ten and Two positions.

Regards,
Bob
Understood. In which case before 2007 I'll be down at the dealter looking at a new wheel
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  #9  
Old 09-08-2005, 06:42 PM
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I used to have a car just like yours. I really liked the alcantara wheel and, like you, thought it was a really nice feature of the car. That said it is sure to be a maintenance issue. I would stick it out until you need a replacement and get it done under warranty. If you keep the car long enough you can always opt for a M3 wheel later on.

I see from your sig that you put clears on it.
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  #10  
Old 09-08-2005, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob
The problem with this strategy(shaving) is that the Alcantara fabric has a finite number of threads, and once you get beyond a certain point, the wheel is toast....at least at the Ten and Two positions.

Regards,
Bob
The real question is why you're still holding the wheel at 10 and 2. The new theory for normal driving is you should hold the wheel at 9 and 3. The reason is that if the airbag deploys and you have your hands at 10 and 2, the airbag will blow your hands into your face. 9 and 3 will just push them to the sides.

Besides, 9 and 3 gives you better control (ask any road racer where they hold the wheel)
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  #11  
Old 09-08-2005, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Fester
Yes, they replaced the Alcantara with the M3 (at least in the ZHP).
Yeah, but the ZCP M3 comes with an Alcantara steering wheel.
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  #12  
Old 09-09-2005, 12:07 AM
jgerry jgerry is offline
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I say go for the perforated leather M3 wheel. The first ZHP I drove had the alcantra wheel (and seats, I hated them!), the one I bought has the leather M3 wheel. I absolutely love it, I find it much more stylish than the alcantra and it fits better with the interior of my car. I like the feel better too.

Black leather + black cube trim + M3 leather steering wheel =
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  #13  
Old 09-09-2005, 06:09 AM
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perforated leather M3 wheel? are there non-perforated & perforated wheels? if anyone can post BMW Part #s and pics of available leather wheels that will work in 04 zhp, i'd appreciate it!
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  #14  
Old 09-09-2005, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgerry
Black leather + black cube trim + M3 leather steering wheel =
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  #15  
Old 09-09-2005, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mppaz
I used to have a car just like yours. I really liked the alcantara wheel and, like you, thought it was a really nice feature of the car. That said it is sure to be a maintenance issue. I would stick it out until you need a replacement and get it done under warranty. If you keep the car long enough you can always opt for a M3 wheel later on.

I see from your sig that you put clears on it.
It's good to hear from you! Yeah, I had to do something to make it my own, and the clears look great. I get compliments on them, and the car all the time. The wheel isn't piling up all that much, nto that I have seen anything to compare it to, but I would like to get it swapped out before the warranty runs up.
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  #16  
Old 09-09-2005, 10:44 AM
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jvr826 jvr826 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProV1
perforated leather M3 wheel? are there non-perforated & perforated wheels? if anyone can post BMW Part #s and pics of available leather wheels that will work in 04 zhp, i'd appreciate it!
Here's a pic of the perforated wheel. I don't have the part number though. Pacific BMW will be able to help you with that and price. RealOEM doesn't have it listed yet.
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  #17  
Old 09-09-2005, 10:55 AM
ProV1 ProV1 is offline
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jvr, that looks sweeeeeeeeet! i'm getting that wheel for sure..
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  #18  
Old 09-09-2005, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvr826
Here's a pic of the perforated wheel. I don't have the part number though. Pacific BMW will be able to help you with that and price. RealOEM doesn't have it listed yet.
It's there... but they don't display the supplemental data for the parts so it's hard to tell which part is what.
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  #19  
Old 09-09-2005, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProV1
jvr, that looks sweeeeeeeeet! i'm getting that wheel for sure..
Poke around a little on the classifieds on other boards, maybe you can find an "experienced" wheel someone didn't like. I can't imagine not liking it, but different strokes for different folks. The guys at Fanatics swap every nut and bolt for something different - u may find one there. I picked up an auto-dim rear view mirror over there for $100 shipped in perfect condition, less than half of the new price.

I think it's quite sporty and goes well with the black cube in my car. I wasn't a big fan of that trim in the beginning, but after 3 months with it, I like it alot. I always get comments on how "pimp" my interior is. hahaha!
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Old 09-09-2005, 11:39 AM
ProV1 ProV1 is offline
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jvr, my alcantara wheel is pilling badly, so i was going to have BMW replace it with the M3 perforated one.
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Old 09-09-2005, 12:31 PM
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I really do like the Alcantara wheel! It's never too hot or cold, and everyone notices how it looks and feels. If I should ever need to replace my steering wheel, I might request the new perforated leather wheel that seems to coming on the 2005 330Ci ZHPs. I guess my descision would be based on how long the current wheel lasts. After a year of driving, I don't see any obvious signs of wear, so I would guess mine should last several years.

If BMW has changed to the perforated leather wheel on all new ZHP equipped cars I would hazard to guess that it is in response to wear/reliability issues. If that is the case, asking for the new replacement model should be a fair request. (But sure doesn't guarantee that one would get what they ask for.)

If your wheel should wear out before the warranty period it would make sense to replace it with the perforated leather version. I like mine enough to say that if it lasts more than a couple of years, while not optimal, I could live with it being an item that needs to be replaced a couple times during the life of the car.
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  #22  
Old 09-09-2005, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibscreen
The real question is why you're still holding the wheel at 10 and 2. The new theory for normal driving is you should hold the wheel at 9 and 3. The reason is that if the airbag deploys and you have your hands at 10 and 2, the airbag will blow your hands into your face. 9 and 3 will just push them to the sides.

Besides, 9 and 3 gives you better control (ask any road racer where they hold the wheel)
Different strokes, Buckwheat.... I`m old school, what can I say? When/if that airbag goes off, you`ll download in your pants regardless of *what* grip you`re using.... :-)
Oh yeah, try spouting your "new theory" to a whole generation of (successful) Italian race car drivers who favored the Seven and Five position....

Regards,
Bob
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  #23  
Old 09-09-2005, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProV1
jvr, my alcantara wheel is pilling badly, so i was going to have BMW replace it with the M3 perforated one.
Good luck getting that done free of charge. It was explained to me that if you claim a part defective (abnormal wear or failure, such as Alcantara piling, etc), you will get the exact replacement part intended for that vehicle from the factory. I just got one replaced.

Funny thing with me: I only wanted to replace the "Y" at the bottom, since some of the black finish was chipped off. They said that they can't, that BMW only replaces the whole unit. Hmmm, I wonder what drives car prices up, and why manufacturers become stingy with maintenance/warranty plans...
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  #24  
Old 09-09-2005, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibscreen
The real question is why you're still holding the wheel at 10 and 2. The new theory for normal driving is you should hold the wheel at 9 and 3. The reason is that if the airbag deploys and you have your hands at 10 and 2, the airbag will blow your hands into your face. 9 and 3 will just push them to the sides.

Besides, 9 and 3 gives you better control (ask any road racer where they hold the wheel)


#1: AIRBAG.... no WAY! It doesn't matter if your hands are at 10/2 or 9/3, the bag deploys outward toward the edge of the steering wheel, and your hands will still be traveling in a forward direction after impact(that is just plain physics). Trust me, I have seen countless crash videos and have NEVER seen the hands of the dummy go toward the rear of the car. There is no possible way for the bag to push your hands into your face, unless you are turning, in which case it still doesn't matter where your hands are placed.

#2: Better Control.... In a street car where you have compliant suspensions, it is much easier to get feedback from the wheel at 10/2. You also have better leverage on the wheel....all road cars are designed with 10/2 in mind, including your BMW. There are a very few exceptions, but nothing under $250K. Racing is a much different animal, you need more turning radius and you need to be able to snap the wheel for sudden change in direction without having to reposition your hands. In a racecar, you drive by the feeling in you A$$, not your hands as much. In a road car, you don't get the same feedback from the seat, so feedback at the wheel is more important. I evaluate handling of road cars for a living and I always evaluate at 10/2 even during on-track limit handling. When I am racing, usually at 9/3 or 9:30/2:30 only because I do not want to reposition my hands while turning.




On topic...dump the Alcantera...I hate it in our 330ci ZHP we have. I would never order another car with that wheel. I find that my hands start to hurt, because I end up with a death grip on the wheel, because is feels so soft and I keep squeezing it harder to get the same feel as a leather wheel.
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  #25  
Old 09-10-2005, 07:43 AM
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tmba2002 tmba2002 is offline
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I've put just over 10K miles on my Alcantara steering wheel; its just starting to form fuzz balls. I've also noticed that the wheel is not as soft as it was new. I read an old post where someone cleaned their steering wheel and I'm about to give it a try. I figure that I have another 40K to get it replaced under warranty.
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