How to Remove the Steering Wheel from a BMW 328iby William Zane
There are many reasons why you may need to remove the steering wheel on your BMW 328i, whether it's to install an aftermarket or later OEM steering wheel, or make a repair to the horn or the steering column itself. Removal of a factory wheel on an E36 generation 328i is not that difficult.
Before removing the steering wheel, the air-bag needs to be removed as well. Disconnect the battery at the negative terminal. Let the battery drain for at least an hour or so, so that the airbag no longer has a charge.
Using the screwdriver, remove the two screws that hold on the plastic trim on the bottom of the steering column. The trim takes some maneuvering to remove, but should come out relatively easily.
Disconnect the orange air bag sensor cable from the airbag. Use something pointy like a pen to push on the tab on the side of the connector to slip it off.
Loosen the airbag itself. The airbag is held on with two Torx (star pattern) screws. NOTE: Hold the airbag in place to keep it from falling. You should be able to CAREFULLY lift the airbag off the wheel. Put the airbag in safe place. Disconnect the brown wire for the horn. This should be a blade connector.
With the airbag out of the way, the bolt that holds the wheel on should be visible. Using the 16-mm socket remove the bolt. Before removing the wheel, mark the splines of the wheel and the steering column shaft in three positions, or note how the wheel is oriented. This ensures that the wheel will not be crooked when you put it back on. Once the wheel position is marked, remove the center bolt and pull the wheel off. If the wheel is on very tightly, you may need a steering wheel puller. As you remove the wheel, pull gently so that you don't damage the remaining wires that need to be disconnected as the wheel comes off.
- WARNING: Automotive airbags can be dangerous to work around. If you don't think you can perform this job safely, have a professional do it for you.
Things You'll Need
- T30 Torx (star) bit or driver (screwdriver length)
- Phillips head screwdriver
- 16-mm socket
- Sharpie marker
- Ball point pen or similar
William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.