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How to replace the steering wheel?

5177 Views 37 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  AZGregM
Well I finally got my alcantara steering wheel done in an acceptable fashion and I would like to install it on the car to see how it works out. Thus my question here. I am mostly concerned about the airbag and the slip ring (I do not want to damage it). So what would be the procedure to install a new steering wheel on our cars reusing the existing slip ring? Is this something I should try myself or pay 1 hour of labor to the dealer to do it?

I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks,
Florian
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fpa1974 said:
Well I finally got my alcantara steering wheel done in an acceptable fashion and I would like to install it on the car to see how it works out. Thus my question here. I am mostly concerned about the airbag and the slip ring (I do not want to damage it). So what would be the procedure to install a new steering wheel on our cars reusing the existing slip ring? Is this something I should try myself or pay 1 hour of labor to the dealer to do it?

I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks,
Florian
Who did the alcantra for you?
I'm still waiting on AGLA.
Just so I understand, you had a wheel like the one in your car done without a slip ring.
So you are going to remove your stock wheel and transfer the slip ring to the alcantra wheel?
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fpa1974 said:
AGLA did. After about one year I got it back but I had to call them like 1-2 times a week, every week. It turned out better than what they gave me first time around. I made my point with them. I wanted no wrinkles on the face of the steering wheel. Tiny waves next to the stiching are ok (even brand new BMW alcantara wheels have them). They managed to do a good job. I can live with it. The wheel has no wrinkles, only waves next to the stitching, which from my experience with the ZHP wheel will slowly diminish anyway. Plus the stiching is very well done this time around.

And yes, I have the wheel like the one on the car, sans the slip ring. I would like to put the new wheel on the car reusing the slip ring.

Thanks,
Florian
On my list is to call AGLA and ask for my money back.
Not sure what your standards are but nice to see that you accepted theirs.
If I ever get mine back, and it's acceptable, I'll be selling it for my $456 cost.
I just went though the slip ring thing on my four pole ti slip ring helping someone out with a M3. Basically screwed on from the back with three T10 Torx screws.
Will be trying some wheels on our cars soon (next few days) and will let you know how our cars slip ring works.
Air bag is held in place by two T30 Torx screws on the back of the wheel (2.5Nm torque).
You can keep the ignition key in place to position things for removal of the captured screws. Once that happens remove the key and place it somewhere so you don't accidently turn it on. Remove the connector pair from the bracket and unplug it.
The wheel is held on by a 16 mm bolt (65Nm if I remember right). Remove the bolt and mark the wheel to the spline before pulling it off. When you remove the bolt it locks the slip ring. If you get screwed up on the slip ring you can get it back by centering the turns. There is also a notch that mates up with the turn signal tab.
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fpa1974 said:
Regardless please keep me up to date on the wheels you are trying.

BTW, how soon can I disconect the airbag connector? Do I have to disconnect the battery? Any special precautions about handling the airbag?

Thanks,
Florian
OK.
On the newer cars like ours, BMW says if the key is out of the ignition it can't go off.
They also say to lay the bag right side up ( I assume in case it does).

Whenever you unplug an air bag related item it shorts the connector of the item.
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fpa1974 said:
What kind of torque do the T30 screws have? I had the airbag cover replaced recently under warranty because the BMW logo finish was chipping and now I cannot loosen those stupid screws. I am curious if they used an impact gun for those :mad:

On my way to get some better Torx tools that would allow me to put more torque to unfasten those screws. Now I only have a bit set. I will soon have a socket set as well.

Florian
From the TIS not my memory. Air bag is 2Nm. Steering wheel mounting screw is 63Nm.
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I finally got it done. I wanted to be super careful while doing it and I took my sweet time. No big problems other than the unexpected run to get a set of torx sockets (I only had bits) and the fact that the lower part of the steering wheel column cover has to go off to be able to reinsert the slip ring connector back into the slip ring.
>>>Forgot to mention the cover. I did the same today for other reasons. I have Torx screwdrivers. I also have Torx bits which to me means Torx sockets. Depending on the brand, Torx bits don't fit the T30 opening. If torqued correctly, the Torx screwdrivers work fine. On my removal today, I used the screwdriver without rotating the wheel.
An X5 4.8 wheel won't fit our cars without some mechanical modification slip ring wise.
Spline is the same.

I took a short test drive too and nothing seems to be out of ordinary for now. Car drives fine as usually. Steering is ok. BTW I love the new thicker steering wheel feel. Even if the wheel does not look perfect as I said the feel is a huge improvement over the stock one.
>>>On my initial AGLA order, I requested and paid for thicker padding. On both attempts that never happened. Back in December, Alan claimed adding padding complicated things.
Still waiting for the third attempt. I'll try talking with them Monday.

I will post pics in a few days.
>>>Interested in seeing them.

P.S. Just because I wanted to be super safe I also disconnected the battery and waited 1 hour after that to do anything to the airbag. Even if unnecessay, I just wanted to make sure I do not get my head blown off by that airbag thinggy.
>>>I used to do the same and no longer do. Not necessary according to BMW. See following pic.

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fpa1974 said:
From what I remember (it was a year back) it was around $250.

Florian
I called AGLA a few days ago an spoke with Alan. He didn't remember me. After talking with him he did and said he shipped the wheel to me three months ago. He said he would check and call me back. He didn't so I called him back. He said he was busy.

Since that didn't happen, he checked and my wheel supposedly has been setting at a FEDEX distribution center for three months. Supposedly the labels fell off or were ripped off.

He said that they would ship to me, or return to him. If returned to him, he would check the quality and ship to me. Since in the past, we know his quality sucks, I'm not expecting a wheel that I paid for.

See the problem. I'm out $556.00. Keep that in mind if dealing with this guy.

Working on fitting the E46 wheels to our cars.
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Update

Ron Stygar said:
I called AGLA a few days ago an spoke with Alan. He didn't remember me. After talking with him he did and said he shipped the wheel to me three months ago. He said he would check and call me back. He didn't so I called him back. He said he was busy.

Since that didn't happen, he checked and my wheel supposedly has been setting at a FEDEX distribution center for three months. Supposedly the labels fell off or were ripped off.

He said that they would ship to me, or return to him. If returned to him, he would check the quality and ship to me. Since in the past, we know his quality sucks, I'm not expecting a wheel that I paid for.

See the problem. I'm out $556.00. Keep that in mind if dealing with this guy.
Talked with Alan Friday May 29th. He said that he shipped the wheel Thursday May 28th via priority mail insured.
Priority mail is normally two days cross country.
He said that I should have it in a couple of days.
That hasn't happened yet. Talked with him today and he said that he shipped it.
He said he would check on it. Sound familiar?
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mng said:
Just got off the phone with the credit card company.
They said a dispute on this is no problem but it has to be filed within sixty days of the charge.
JonM said:
If you guys are interested, we can provide the name of the place we outsource to. They may or may not stock Alcantara, but we could sell pieces at cost.

They don't have perfect quality either, but they are quick. And honest. They are in Texas.
I'm interested in who they are.
Hopefully, If things work out and I have the time, I'll have an E46-M3 steering wheel on my car for HC.
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E46-M3 parts

Interesting how they pack air bags now.



E46-M3 wheel O/A diameter is the same as our cars.
The rim is thicker up and down wise and thicker yet front to back.
Being thicker up and down wise it appears to have a smaller O/A diameter.
The front projection of either wheel is the same.

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2
mng said:
Ron,

how does the rim circ compare to ours?

(according to this, ours are 3 5/8")

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=762378&postcount=1
Roughly 4.5 inch. The front to back being thicker feels better to me. I assume that's why BMW did it this way. If you look at closing your hand it is not a circle. It's thicker front to back too.
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E46-M3 Steering Wheel

I installed the bare wheel today for some dimension checks and to try it out.
Not sure I like the thicker wheel but only have 10 miles on it. This wheel is also softer than stock. Since Pinecone has both, I would be interested in hearing his thoughts.
Both wheels set at 70 degrees.
The M-Z3 wheel rim is 31 mm front to back and 27 mm up and down.
(--)
The E46-M3 wheel rim is 38.5 mm > 39 mm front to back and 30 mm up and down.
(---)
The E46-M3 wheel is closer to you by 3/16 inch. You could probably modify the spacer ring some to change that. The extra front to back thickness is either side of the stock wheel. The centers are ~ the same.

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mng said:
:yikes:

just when you got the steering wheel buttons working on the stock wheel...so is this just R&D or are you planning on sticking with this one?
Don't know. If I get to like it and get it to work, probably so.
Saw an alcantra wheel in Montreal last Saturday in the M3 Competition package and might try that.
I enjoy figuring things out. Most of the stuff I do is based on that.
I wasn't interested in the switches until I installed a TP in an E46.
Now that I have them, I like them a lot (especially) on my stock wheel.
The switches on the E46-M3 wheel will work. Having only the switches that work show. is a major hand job since it is one piece. Still have to look at that some more.
Based on what I know now, I think this mod, although not plug and play, is doable. Not there yet so I don't know if there is a GOTCHA hiding.
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Weights

Whoops. Forgot to mention.

The E46-M3 bare wheel is just over a pound lighter than stock.
The E46-M3 air bag is 1.5 pounds lighter than stock.

Takata says they are using magnesium now. Maybe the M-Z3 didn't.
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viper501 said:
I for one *love* the e46 M3 wheel. If you figure out a way to do it, and keep the airbag, I'm definitely doing the mod, regardless of the domestic repurcussions. :angel:
The air bag and slip ring are covered (won't know for sure until I connect it). This is a very expensive time extensive mod. The parts necessary retail for around $1600 not counting the mod time (done by hand) which I still don't know for sure can be done.
The alcantra one is more.
I may make it a product but I doubt many will be interested based on the cost.
Based on people copying my experiences for financial gain, I no longer share the details to help them do that.
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