I thought I would try a Scottie style tutorial
How to Remove the Steering wheel from a 1999 BMW Z3 2.8
Having looked on the web it appears that pretty much every BMW has its own method for removing the steering wheel with different screws, locations and wires so here is my how to guide.
1 Disconnect the battery
My battery is in a well in to boot under the carpet. I used a 10mm socket to loosen the negative (black) connector and then remove it.
I then pinned it in place with the boot carpet to prevent it accidentally reconnecting
Now wait for 5 minutes for the airbag to drain of electricity as you don’t want to be in the front seat what that goes off.
2 Wait for 5 minutes
I know you have already done that in the last step but it is important so go do it again.
3 Loosen the Air bag
Sit in the front seat and stare at the front wheel for a bit while you get over waiting doing nothing for the last ten minutes.
Make sure the wheel is level and the front wheels are pointing forward the remove the key and jiggle the wheel a bit to engage the steering lock. This should make it easier to put the wheel back on straight.
Get out of the car and look behind the wheel and you will see a hole with a torq bolt in it. There is one on the other side too.
Get yourself a T27 torq bit and undo the bolt nearest the door. This is a bit fiddly as the column stalks get in the way. I found it easier to put the torq bit in a socket and use a small socket wrench to remove it.
The bolt doesn’t actually come out but if you pull the air bag you will feel it come loose.
Remove the bolt on the other side in the same way. Be careful to not let the centre of the wheel fall out on its own as you might damage the wires that hold it in place.
4 Disconnect the air bag wiring
This is the point you discover if you have waited long enough after disconnecting the battery. There are two wires. The little orange one is for the horn and the big yellow is for the airbag
If you look at the bottom of the wheel centre you will see a spring bit. This is the horn button. It works by pushing into the earthed metal in the steering wheel to create a circuit. While you are thinking about the horn (oo-er missus) you might as well carefully lever off the small orange wire with a flat bladed screw driver.
Now the fun one, the big yellow connector. You sure you waited 5 minutes? Okay, lever it off then.
After the anticlimax of realising that nothing went bang casually toss the wheel centre onto the passengers seat
5 Loosening the wheel
Start by getting a 16mm socket. It is probably worth getting the one from the big set if you have the choice as the bolt can be tight and you will want a big wrench.
You may need to use an extender bar to get properly connected. Twist and the steering lock should hold the wheel steady. You did remember to put the steering lock on earlier? Too late now if you didn’t. If it is a right tight bolt you are probably best twisting the wheel as well so that you don’t break the steering lock.
With the bolt removed you can carefully wiggle the wheel and pull it off the shaft. Do this gently as there are wires connected that you don’t want to break
6 Removing the Steering Wheel
There is a very tempting looking connector on the steering wheel that is begging to be pulled at to remove the wires. Don’t!
I have no idea what the white strip is but I read somewhere else that this should be disconnected at the car end
To get to the car end of the wheel you need to remove the bottom of the steering wheel surround. This means undoing a cross head screw that is underneath the steering column approximately where my finger is pointing (I mean pointing in the picture, not right at this moment)
Notice the innocuous plastic ring around the key hole. That has two wires connected to it and unless it is in place around the key hole when you put it all back together the car won't start. There must be some kind of transponder in the key.
Here is the screw, the screw driver and the plastic shroud carefully removed and left in the drivers foot well
Looking under the steering column you can now see the white and the orange connectors that are holding the wires in place
The brown and blue wires go into a flattish connector that is held in a plastic clip thing. Remove it from the clip and then carefully pull the connecter apart
The orange connector was more fiddly to get apart but pulling it seemed to work.
Now you can casually toss the steering wheel onto the passengers seat
7 The result
Look a car with no steering wheel
Just spotted this comes off too. Looks like some kind of spacer but has a slightly larger diameter at the end nearest the car so make sure you put it back oin the right way round
8 Re-installing the steering wheel
No idea really. I just connected the wires and bolted the wheel back on without the air bag and then reconnected the battery. Don't forget about the black ring with two wires that fits around the key hole or your car won't start. When I touch the loose orange horn wire against any metal on the wheel the horn sounds. I am not sure the airbag sat on the passengers seat is going to do much though.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode when I try to install a wheel boss and wooden steering wheel.