In most cars and trucks, there comes a time when you need to replace the steering wheel. There may be varied reasons for this, like steering failure, customizing the steering, etc. At times, you might even require to remove the steering wheel to repair it.
You may find the process of removing the steering wheel more daunting than attaching a new one. But it surely does not attain the magnitude of some unmanageable project, and can be done at home.
Apart from a fully loaded standard car tool kit, you will need pliers, multi-sized screwdrivers, and a tool called a puller, which may not be included in standard car parts. In case you are replacing the steering wheel, make sure that you have the replacement ready before removing the old one. Also, make sure you have chosen a replacement that it is compatible with the make and model of your vehicle.
Straighten the Steering Wheel
Before you start removing the steering, align the steering in such a way that the tires are directed straight. This is done in order to ensure that the steering alignment is proper once the new steering wheel has been installed or the old one is reinstalled.
Unplug the Electrical System
It is important to disconnect the electrical system on the vehicle, as this will not only prevent any accidental electrocution but also negate any possible deployment of the airbag, horn blowing out or shorting. This is simple to achieve as you simply need to disconnect the car battery by removing the terminals to ensure that there is no current flowing through the wiring.
Get Rid of the Horn
In case of most steering wheels, you need to either press down or pull up the horn cap and turn it in order to remove the horn button. This part can be tough, but there is no risk of breaking it or harming it. Determine if the horn ring is secured with screws that may be hidden beneath the wheel spokes. Proceed by removing the horn wire and the spring-loaded metal piston from its housing. This can be achieved either by either pulling it straight out or pulling out the plastic sleeve by twisting it to the left. Before that you need to cut the wire attached to the plastic sleeve. Set aside the removed sleeve for using it later.
Shaft Nut Removal
First of all, start by removing the shaft nut retainer clip. Make use of a 15/16" (or 24 mm) socket and ratchet to remove the retaining nut and the washer of this nut. Now remove the shaft-nut, which is responsible for holding the steering wheel to the shaft. Do not lose this nut as you will require it while replacing the steering.
Make a Mark
Using a paint pen or a permanent marker, make a mark of the steering wheel's orientation on the splines on the steering column shaft's ending. This will help you know the proper placement of the steering wheel's top when you replace the new or the old one on.
Pull Out the Wheel
The steering wheel is now free from any fastening and ready to be pulled out of the steering shaft. You can make use of the puller by placing it on the tow tapped holes and pulling it upwards. Pull the steering wheel straight out of the steering column.
So, this is the entire process of removing a steering wheel, which you can easily do at home. But, I would like to add a caution note. However simple the procedure may look, it would be advisable to attempt this under expert supervision only.