Congratulations on purchasing a proper wheel instead of the claymore currently sitting on your steering column! Instructions around the web vary but I've decided to write something definitive just to have a solid resource on this.
There's a TLDR at the bottom of the page.
Required tools and resources
- Fine-spline steering wheel (Cars manufactured after 1985-09)
- Non-airbag slip ring (32331152896)
- Spacer ring (32311120260)
- Socket wrench w/ 22mm socket
- Short socket extension
- Breaker bar
- T30 Torx screwdriver
- Flat-head screwdriver or something to pry with (only for OEM wheels)
Removing the airbag
⚠️ Make sure to disconnect your battery for around 15 minutes before starting this process. You don't want the airbag going off accidentally.
Put your key into the ignition to unlock the steering lock. This allows you to rotate your wheel to allow enough room to use your T30 screwdriver.
The airbag is held onto the wheel with two T30 screws, located on the back of the wheel. Undo these two screws while holding the airbag with another hand.
Once the airbag is loose, pull it away from the wheel. You'll see a cable attached with an orange connector—you can pull this straight off with your pliers.
Set the airbag unit aside.
Removing the wheel
Now that the airbag is off, the 22mm nut (and washer) that holds the wheel onto the column is exposed. Apparently, these can vary in how torqued down they are, but in my experience I needed a breaker bar (and a LOT of force) to undo the nut.
First, make sure that your wheel is straight and turn on the steering lock by removing the key and jiggling the wheel. You don't want to accidentally rotate it and reinstall the wheel with the incorrect angle.
Use a socket wrench / breaker bar with a short extension and 22mm socket at the end to undo the nut. Set the nut and washer aside for reinstallation later.
With the wheel loose, disable your steering lock so you can pull the wheel straight off the column. The wheel will not come off with the steering lock on.
There will be a cable connecting the wheel to the column—you can undo this connection and either cut the cable or just stuff it into the column housing where you know that it won't get into the way of your steering.
There is a white spring-loaded pin also located on the steering column—either remove this part or just break it off using your pliers.
Set the wheel aside.
Installing the new wheel
⚠️ Ensure that the black plastic slip ring (32331152896) is installed on the back of your new wheel with two Philips screws. While you can skip this part, the horn and turn-signal cancellation won't work at all.
You cannot re-use the slip ring from the airbag wheel—it does not mount properly.
With an OEM non-airbag wheel, you can pry off the BMW emblem with a flat-head screwdriver or other prying tool to access the area you install the nut.
Your steering should still be straight—carefully install the new wheel onto the steering column ensuring that the wheel is straight and aligned with the splines of the column.
Once the wheel is on the column, lock your steering to ensure that it cannot rotate. Place the new spacer ring, old washer, then tighten the 22mm nut onto the column.
After torquing the nut down, ensure that your wheel doesn't jiggle forward and back on the column. If it does, either you need to go back and install the spacer ring or the 22mm nut isn't tightened enough.
Re-install the BMW emblem onto the wheel. You're done!
Without an airbag, the SRS light on the check panel will be on. Some people like to replace the check panel with a non-SRS variant, remove the bulb, or install a resistor to simulate an airbag being installed.
Personally, I think it's much cleaner to merely disconnect or even remove the SRS computer entirely. You don't have an airbag installed anyway, so why keep the computer?
With an older, non-airbag wheel, the wheel sits farther from the driver and closer to the stalks on the steering column. This can be extremely annoying during driving since it's common to accidentally trigger turn signals or the windshield wipers during aggressive turning.
There are a couple options available to solve this:
- Install stalks from a non-airbag car
- Bend the existing stalks away from the wheel
The cleanest option is to simply get non-airbag stalks, but it might be hard to find the part and cost is always a consideration.
If someone has a part number for these stalks, please contact me so I can purchase some and note them down on this page.
- Disconnect battery and wait 15 minutes
- Undo the two T30 screws behind the wheel holding in the airbag
- Pull airbag off and disconnect airbag cable
- Make sure wheel is centered and turn on the steering lock
- Undo exposed 22mm nut + washer
- Turn off steering lock
- Pull wheel off and unplug cable
- Cut or hide cable in steering column housing
- Break off or remove white plastic pin on housing
- Slide new wheel onto column, ensure it's centered
- Turn steering lock on
- Install the new spacer onto the column
- Re-install and torque down 22mm nut + washer
- [RECOMMENDED]: Unplug SRS computer