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Completed 1/29/2003

Replace sports package steering wheel with factory M3 wheel.

1 - BMW M3 Steering Wheel
     (TISCHER BMW $330 part #32 34 2 282 022)

Two long thin Flat Head Screwdrivers
#20 Torx Driver, NOT a bit driver
10mm Nut Driver
Ratchet Wrench
6" Wrench Extension
16mm Socket
Torque Wrench (recommended)

I have contemplated upgrading the sports package steering wheel with the M3 version for quite a while. My major holdback was somehow being able to keep my lower spoke split and the aluminum trim (since the M3 wheel has a large solid lower spoke). Finally, I decided to go for purchasing an M3 wheel and fitting the wheel to accept the OEM aluminum trim piece.

1. First disconnect the battery. It is not safe to remove or handle the airbag components live. The battery is in the trunk on the passenger side under the black cover. Lift the spare tire cover. Twist and remove the two fasteners holding the battery cover on. Using the 10mm Nut Driver, loosen the nut on the negative (black) side until you can disconnect the cable (Photo A - Red Circle). Move it somewhere where it won't come back into contact with the battery terminal on accident.

2. Now, look behind the horizontal spokes of the steering wheel. There is an indentation on either side that has a tiny slit in it. This is where you want to insert your flat head screwdriver (Photo B). The idea is to use the screwdriver to compress the air bag retainer springs. You might want to look ahead at Photo E and look at the blue arrows. Gently feel around with the tip of the screwdriver until you can press in and the spring presses back. This is easiest to find when the screwdriver is slightly higher than horizontal.

3. While pressing in on one side, pull on the airbag assembly by the edges. I found that once it feels like the spring is all the way compressed that you must press just a bit harder and the airbag will push towards you. Repeat again on the other side. You might have to switch back and forth or get a friend and push both sides at once. This is the airbag unit (Photo D).

4. Disconnect the airbag by lifting up on the safety caps over the yellow and green connectors. Put the airbag somewhere safe.

5. Inside the wheel, disconnect the two plugs (Photo E - Green Arrows).

6. Use the 16mm ratchet and extension to remove the center bolt. It is on there very tight, so be careful not to pop yourself in the face.

7. Underneath the bolt are the two alignment marks. One on the steering shaft and one on the wheel itself (Photo F). The new wheel will have a mark as well, be sure to line them up when you install the new wheel.

NOTE: At this point, I chose to take the aluminum lower trim from my sports steering wheel and move it the M3 wheel. If you want to chage your trim, refer to my STEERING WHEEL TRIM page. The M3 wheel has a solid lower center spoke, so my plan is to grind out the lower spoke of the M3 wheel to look good with the aluminum 4-spoke trim. For now, it works.

8. Bolt the new wheel into place. Tighten to 46 ft-lbs. Reattach wiring harness.

9. Reconnect the airbag and it will press back into place.

10. Reconnect your battery and enjoy your new wheel! (Photo G)


Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

Photo D

Photo E

Photo F

Photo G


I really enjoy the thickness and feel of the M3 wheel over the standard sport wheel. The hand grips at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions are perfect and the leather is very nice in my hands. It is an expensive part, but for as much extra feel and control, I think it is worth it!

  © MarvelPhx