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.
- 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 ...
- 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).
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