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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
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: New York
Posts: 62
My Ride: 2005 M3 Vert
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:

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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