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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 06-01-2007, 08:49 AM   #1
Sil330
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M3 SMG Paddle wheel installation for E46 NON-M

M3 SMG Paddle wheel installation
This is a relatively cheap mod with a big difference to the driving experience of your steptronic BMW.

The replacement of the wheel will probably take around 1 hour if it the first one you have done, tools required are:

- flat blade screwdriver
- phillips screwdriver
- torx screwdriver set
- 16mm socket and breaker bar
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:50 AM   #2
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The first thing we do is to make our new steptronic loom. You need a two pin connector - either a CD rom cable or a connector our of a PC case like the power LED one are perfect for this. You need to extend the wiring to the connector to about 1.5 metres
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:51 AM   #3
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Before we take anything to bits, it is probably a good idea to examine how the airbag is retained in the wheel. Take your new wheel and have a look on either side from the rear. You should see two holes which you can insert a flat bladed screwdriver in as pictured
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:52 AM   #4
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With this screwdriver you need to load the spring clip - this will in turn pop out the airbag. So give it a trial run before we go inside the car. The red arrows in the larger version of this picture show you which part of the spring you should be moving and in which direction. You can do one clip at a time.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:52 AM   #5
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*IMPORTANT* Before we can do anything to the car we need to disconnect the battery. The battery (on a coupe at least) is in the boot on the right hand side. Take the boot carpet and floor out and there are two clips to gain access to the battery. Once inside disconnect the earth cable and put it somewhere safe where it cannot reconnect itself. If the battery reconnects while you have no airbag installed then it will trip your airbag light which can only be reset by a dealer at cost. I hold mine down with the battery cover as shown here.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:53 AM   #6
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Now we start taking the car to bits. Perform the airbag releasing procedure as detailed above except this time do it for real on the wheel in the car. Insert the screwdriver one side at a time and the airbag should release. Once it is loose both sides give it a tug and it should pull free. Bear in mind there are connectors on the rear of the airbag. Pull the connectors off, they have a tab which you pull up and then the connectors will release.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:54 AM   #7
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Disconnect all the connectors from the top of the slip ring and then undo the large nut in the centre of the steering wheel. In the larger version of this picture the two connectors are shown by two red arrows and the nut is shown by a blue arrow.

Once this has been done the steering wheel should easily be able to be pulled off.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:54 AM   #8
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With the wheel off, now is a good time to remove the trim from the old wheel so you can place the multifunction buttons on the new wheel. Firstly, we remove the two screws holding the lower trim in place, these are located at the bottom behind the steering wheel.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:55 AM   #9
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Undo the two screws either side of the middle of the wheel which hold the top trim in. Both parts of the trim should now release as one unit. Undo the four screws which hold the bottom part of the trim to the top multifunction part. Then reassemble the multifunction trim from the old and M lower trim from the new wheel. Finally install your new trim set to the new wheel.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:56 AM   #10
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Now, going back to the car we need to replace the slip ring. To do this we need to remove the cowling around the steering column. The top part of the cowling is held in by a screw clip in the middle. A phillips screwdriver will remove this. For the lower part of the cowling we need to remove the lower trim above the pedals. This is held in by a clip and three screws. One screw and the clip are pointed out in the larger version of this pic
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:56 AM   #11
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The lower cowling can now be removed. This is held in by two clips which are released by pushing the round centre part of the clip up into the outer part of the clip. The top cowling and lower cowling can now be separated giving you access to the slip ring.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:57 AM   #12
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The slip ring is held in by 4 bolts which are highlighted in the larger version of this picture. Remove these bolts, unclip the connector on the rear of the slip ring and remove the indicator and wiper stalks. Replace the slip ring with your newer version and bolt everything back up. *IMPORTANT* if you have a brand new slip ring make sure you remove the shipping clip. It is the red clip in this photo and if stops the slip ring turning while in transit. It may also stop the slip ring turning while you are driving which would not be a good thing!
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:58 AM   #13
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Now we need to connect our new steptronic wiring. Firstly, connect the PC case connector to the rear of the slip ring as shown here.
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:58 AM   #14
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Now, feed the wiring down the steering column and along the side of the centre console. Use cable ties to keep things neat in the steering column. Poke the wiring up by the gear lever and then you can tuck everything neatly into the centre console
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Old 06-01-2007, 08:59 AM   #15
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The two wires we need to tap into are the blue and purple ones. You can use either 'vampire' connectors as BMW call them (aka scotchlocks) or if you have decent wire you can poke it into the connector. I chose the latter option then with tape as I didn't know which wire went to which. I determined this with trial and error, the only thing that can go wrong is that the paddles are reversed which you will notice immediately and can be easily rectified by swapping the wires over later
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:00 AM   #16
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Finally we need to put the new wheel back on. To make sure it is lined up ok there are two notches, one on the wheel and one on the steering column spline. Push the wheel back on and then insert and tighten the bolt. Connect the three connectors (yes we have three now!) to the slip ring and make dure the wires are tidy and in their clip. Finally reconnect the clips back to the airbag and gently push the airbag back into place until you hear the comforting sound of the clips lock it into place.
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:01 AM   #17
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That's it! Now start the car and check the steering all feels ok before you set off. Check nothing is grinding or anything like that. Once satisfied then give the car it's first test drive with the new wheel.

Have a blast down the road and see how much different it feels to be able to change gears from the steering wheel! This really is a worthwhile mod, and not all that expensive either!!!

GOOD LUCK!!!!
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:23 AM   #18
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Wow very nice DIY.
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Old 06-01-2007, 10:24 AM   #19
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do you have diy to install those paddles on a non-smg steering wheel?
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:02 PM   #20
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wow nice write up
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