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How To: Replace steering wheel '97-'03 F-150

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  #1  
Old 02-06-2011, 04:47 PM
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Location: Central Coast, California
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How To: Replace steering wheel '97-'03 F-150

The rubber steering wheel on my '99 XL was starting to look a little tired, so I picked up an OEM leather wrapped steering wheel to replace it with.

Tools required:
  • T-50 bit and torque wrench
  • T-25 bit
  • 8 mm socket/rachet
  • Two jaw puller
  • Small screwdriver
  • 5 ea small zip ties

12 years of California sun took it's toll on the top of the wheel...



Removing the steering wheel involves removing the air bag (something I've never done before, and made me a little nervous), so I consulted my Ford Service Manual for some tips. Ford lists the following warnings ...

WARNING
  • Always wear safety glasses when repairing an air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) vehicle and when handling an air bag module.
  • Carry a live air bag module with the air bag and trim cover pointed away from your body.
  • Do not set a live air bag module down with the trim cover face down.
  • Never probe the connectors on the air bag module. Doing so can result in air bag deployment.
  • To avoid accidental deployment and possible personal injury, the backup power supply must be depleted before repairing or replacing any front or side air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) components.
  • To deplete the backup power supply energy, disconnect the battery ground cable and wait at least one minute. Be sure to disconnect auxiliary batteries and power supplies (if equipped).

Please note: I'm not a trained mechanic ... the following procedure is how I replaced my steering wheel. It is not necessarily the correct or approved procedure. An air bag is a life-saving safety device. If you're not comfortable working w/ it, please take your truck to a trained professional mechanic.

1: Disconnect ground cable (8 mm) at battery and wait at least 1 min

Pic so you won't forget ...




2: Remove air bag (see warnings above)
  • remove two plastic plugs from cover on back of steering wheel
  • remove two screws holding air bag (8 mm)
  • pull out air bag, unplug horn (red plug) and air bag (black plug)
  • remove air bag and set aside (face up)






3: Remove steering wheel
  • unplug cruise control wire
  • remove steering wheel bolt (T-50)
  • attach two jaw puller and pull off wheel
  • carefully feed the air bag plug through the opening in the steering wheel frame

Notes (from Ford Service Manual)
  • Do not remove wheel w/o a puller, as the steering column may be damaged
  • Discard/replace the steering wheel bolt (I reused mine ... you do as you wish).




4: Remove Cruise Control switches
  • remove back cover from steering wheel (two t-25 screws accessed through the two holes you used to remove the air bag screws)
  • cut/remove 5 zip ties (note their position before removal)
  • gently bend tabs and remove Cruise Control switches/harness




5: Install Cruise Control switches on new wheel
  • snap switches into new wheel
  • zip tie wires to steering wheel frame
  • install cover onto back of steering wheel




6: Install steering wheel
  • feed air bag plug through hole labeled "wires" on steering wheel frame
  • seat steering wheel on shaft (it will only fit on one way ... don't force it)
  • Torque steering wheel bolt (T-50) to 23-32 ft lb
  • plug in Cruise Control wires


7: Install Air Bag
  • plug in horn and air bag wires
  • secure air bag w/ two screws (8 mm)
  • replace plastic plugs on cover on back of steering wheel


8: Connect battery
  • start truck and insure the dash air bag warning light goes out


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Old 02-06-2011, 04:54 PM
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Looks Good Fairlaner. Nice write-up too. Did you get the new wheel directly from Ford?
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  #3  
Old 02-06-2011, 05:10 PM
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Nice write up! I wouldn't have the guts to attempt that one
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:46 PM
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yea, thats 1 thing i'm super scared to touch. another tip they say is after disconnecting the ground, they recommend pumping ur brakes to get any remaining power outta the system.
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2011, 01:46 AM
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VERY NICE!!!

I've always wondered how to do this. x2 on where did you get it from
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Old 02-07-2011, 02:20 PM
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x3.....i need one bad! and i don't see paying $200 for a damn wheel!
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Old 02-07-2011, 02:34 PM
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Awesome and I want a Lariat wheel on my truck, but no way am I touching that
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:06 AM
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nice work keith. thatll help when i do a swap on mine
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  #9  
Old 02-08-2011, 12:18 AM
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Location: Puyallup, WA
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Nice job on replacing the steering wheel! I went the lazy route and got a 'leather' wheel cover.. You know, the kind you thread a length of twine or whatever it is thru about 200 holes..

It's not that foam rubber cover either.. It's supposed to be 'real' leather, and it looks and feels like it, but I'm sure it's not 'real'..

My wheel did the same thing on top and the cover was my solution...

How much did the new wheel run you?

Mitch
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:19 AM
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Thanks for the comments.

I've been nervous about working around airbags for years, but I've never had a need to do so until now. My Ford service manual (a Ford publication) just said pull the ground at the battery and wait at least 1 minute ... I figure they know what they're talking about.

I got the wheel on ebay ... the seller claimed it was a take-off from a new truck. Whether this is true or it's a re-wrapped wheel, it's a nice wheel that looks new. The frame is a Ford part, and at this time I have no reason to doubt the seller's claim. I paid $150 shipped, which seems like a lot (I'm the king of cheapskates ... just look at my truck ), but they got me working long night shifts for the last 3 months and I needed something to reward myself (working 12-14 hr. nights is a good way to insure you have no other life than work).
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2011, 10:44 AM
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Great write up!
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2011, 06:10 PM
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Nice Job!

Very welcome to see explicit instructions and photos. Keep it up!
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2011, 09:31 PM
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nice write up! I want a new steering wheel and the matching airbag with the blue ford logo instead of the plain grey one I have!
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  #14  
Old 02-08-2011, 10:45 PM
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Looks good Keith. How exactly does that puller thing work? Ive never used one before.

I really need a set of those seat covers....still love 'em every time I see 'em.
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  #15  
Old 02-08-2011, 11:00 PM
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Nice write up. Gives me questions about an idea.

What does everyone think of a NBS Steering wheel swap???
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