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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 05-16-2009, 10:27 AM   #1
conv440
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Wheel swap: Square to Round Airbag

So I know the steering wheel swap has been covered about a thousand times but all the posts I've found were round airbag to round airbag (sport wheel to M-tech) and triangle to round. I couldn't find a single thread or picture on the removal of a square air bag. When I did this last weekend it took me an hour to figure out how to take off the standard square air bag. Maybe it was just me but I tried to use the same 'feel around for a spring clip' technique as on the round one. FAIL! Once the old bag was off it took about 10 minutes to complete the rest of the swap. Please don't flame me for re-posting as this info is not out there as far as I could find on this site or many others. This procedure will work for installing both the sport and M-Tech wheels. So to hopefully prevent anyone else from having to rediscover this simple thing here goes:

Tools:
10mm socket - for battery terminal
T-30 torx bit - to remove square bag
long skinny flathead - to remove round bag
16mm socket - to pull bolt securing wheel
thread locker
common sense

Step 1
Disconnect the battery and wait 15 minutes. This will prevent the airbag light from coming on when you are done.

Step 2
Working from the backside of the old wheel use a T-30 torx bit to loosen the two bolts securing the airbag. Mystery solved. Note: mine were on TIGHT!

Step 3
Disconnect the two electrical connectors at the top of the column. There is a clip that you need to push in from the top to release each connector. Set old square airbag aside.

Step 3
Using a 16mm 1/2 drive socket remove the bolt holding the wheel to the column. Again, I did not know what to expect at this point after pulling may wheels from American cars that were force fit and require a wheel puller. It turns out that with the bolt out the wheel slides right off, no puller required.

Step 4
You may need to remove the new, round airbag from the new wheel as I did. This has been covered a bunch of times so search. But basically you take your long flat-head screwdriver and insert it into the holes in the back of the wheel pushing in sideways toward the center of the wheel to locate and depress some very tight spring clips on either side.

Step 4
Install new wheel on column. Be sure to line up the key at the bottom of the wheel with the key on the spine of the steering column. Put lock tight on bolt, reinstall and torque to 46 ft/lbs.

Step 5
Connect the two electrical connectors from the round bag into the sockets on the column. The two wiring harnesses look completely different but are plug n play. Line up the air bag in the opening with the top tilted forward, push it firmly into the opening.

Step 6
Reconnect the battery. At this point I turned on the ignition and got several warning lights on the dash. The radio also started to scan through channels on it's own. I started to freak out. I shut off the ignition and turned it back on. Everything reset and worked perfectly, steering wheel controls, lights, etc and no dash lights! Yahoo! Pretty new steering wheel.

I should add that this how it worked for my 2004 330xi. I can't guarantee that this is the same for every e46. This is absolutely the best mod available to make your ride feel more sport and less luxury!
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Last edited by conv440; 05-16-2009 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 05-18-2009, 03:05 AM   #2
muly
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Great writeup, i will be changing my wheel soon
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:16 AM   #3
ledfut
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I desperately have to do this. I hate my square wheel.
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:03 PM   #4
W///
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Originally Posted by ledfut View Post
I desperately have to do this. I hate my square wheel.
I got a 328i as well and changed to a round airbag steering wheel. Did the same procedure and got an airbag light that will NOT clear with the peake tool. Build is a 9/99.

Just a heads up I guess
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:54 PM   #5
ledfut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W/// View Post
I got a 328i as well and changed to a round airbag steering wheel. Did the same procedure and got an airbag light that will NOT clear with the peake tool. Build is a 9/99.

Just a heads up I guess
Awesome, thanks for that. I appreciate it.

I believe it's an issue between the older single-stage airbags we have, and the dual stage airbags that the newer e46's have. a dealer reflash might work, or a new airbag control module.

I think i'm going to look into trying to find an old 3 spoke wheel with the triangle airbag from the early sport models.

Last edited by ledfut; 05-18-2009 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:17 PM   #6
paulo-M
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Originally Posted by W/// View Post
I got a 328i as well and changed to a round airbag steering wheel. Did the same procedure and got an airbag light that will NOT clear with the peake tool. Build is a 9/99.

Just a heads up I guess
I had a similar problem...
I have a 2000 e46 with the square wheel, but mine was already a 2 stage one, instead of the early models with just 1 stage.
BUT, after trying to install it, the airbag light came on, I cleared it completely, but after turning the ignition it was on again.
then I got another round airbag that was somehow different on the back and also the part number was different. I installed it, turned the ignition and the airbag light didn't come on again

So I wanted to ask, could the first airbag I tried be incompatible with my car, or is it faulty?

Regards,
Paulo
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:46 PM   #7
punishere46
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Great Post!!!! I just did my steering wheel swap following your inst. thanks
Fanatics like you make the web site as great as it is!!!
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:43 PM   #8
taskeen21
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Newbie trying this firt time.....More pictures needed

Hi there,

I am newbie....Just bought a 2002 325i 4dr Sedan that came with a 4-spoke steering. I wanted to change this to a 3-spoke M or 3-spoke sport one. i read this thread but kind of confused with the steps and pictures. would really appreciate if you can add some more pictures with arrow marks showing the exact screws and wires and stuff to work with.........i just dont want to have the air bag slam on my face....... also, how do i know if my car has a 1 stage airbag or 2 stage airbag???...i read a lot about these things but couldn't figure out what my actually came with......
lastly, where can i find these steering wheels for the cheapest possible, yet good condition, near los angeles, CA ?
thanks in advance.

peace.
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Old 10-29-2009, 07:28 AM   #9
Bimmer Dude Xi
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where was this thread when i swap my carpets
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:17 PM   #10
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just thought id resurrect this thread because i'm curious about some of the questions that were asked here. anybody have any ideas?
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:01 PM   #11
grandcarrera
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what kind of T-30 torx do u use mine is too long !!
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:41 PM   #12
conv440
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grandcarrera View Post
what kind of T-30 torx do u use mine is too long !!
Here's the T-30

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Old 12-30-2011, 11:56 AM   #13
zanga254
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Bump? I have a 2002 325xi, i would assume i'd need to buy a round airbag along with the round steering wheel is this true? Is this difference in airbag the only reason why most companies are only suggesting round to round swap or is there something bigger i need to be aware of?
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I am content with cruising at only 130 mph.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:27 PM   #14
conv440
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zanga254 View Post
Bump? I have a 2002 325xi, i would assume i'd need to buy a round airbag along with the round steering wheel is this true? Is this difference in airbag the only reason why most companies are only suggesting round to round swap or is there something bigger i need to be aware of?
Zanga254, You will need the round airbag to go with your new wheel. The square bag won't work in a round hole, LOL. Nothing else you need that I'm aware of other than possibly the difference between single stage vs. two stage mentioned by paulo-M. I didn't have any of those problems on my 2004.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:25 PM   #15
yoshii
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Awesome write up thanks for sharing! will be doing this at the end of the week.
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Old 09-07-2012, 02:10 PM   #16
XKxRome0ox
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thanks for the write up
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Fill that hole in your soul by buying more material goods
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?p=15286051
buy my sedan rear seats (gray leather)

sell me sedan A pillars!! (black fabric)
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:08 PM   #17
jgs99v
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Guys - yes great write up.
However one missing factor - how about the multi-function keys?
Has anyone performed this swap on a 99 E46 and their multi-function; volume, station, phone, cruise control function actually working correctly?
This is my biggest concern.

thanks,

jack ~
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:24 PM   #18
conv440
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Jack,
The multi-function keys on the wheel work fine on the 2004. I see no reason why they wouldn't on a 99 but as they say 'your actual results may vary'.
Chris
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:30 PM   #19
yoshii
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Originally Posted by jgs99v View Post
Guys - yes great write up.
However one missing factor - how about the multi-function keys?
Has anyone performed this swap on a 99 E46 and their multi-function; volume, station, phone, cruise control function actually working correctly?
This is my biggest concern.

thanks,

jack ~
Worked on My 2000 323i no issues.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:37 AM   #20
wheelm@n
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgs99v View Post
Guys - yes great write up.
However one missing factor - how about the multi-function keys?
Has anyone performed this swap on a 99 E46 and their multi-function; volume, station, phone, cruise control function actually working correctly?
This is my biggest concern.

thanks,

jack ~
Works like a charm in my 316i '00 M43tu,
i allready had mfl so i didn't had to change slip ring too
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