Hey everyone, this thread will cover how to remove and re-install an OEM 1993-1997 altima steering wheel. I was changing my stock rubber/plastic steering wheel to a SE model leather steering wheel. Thanks to jserrano for selling me an OEM leather steering wheel!
You'll need: Tamper-proof sockets, small flat head screwdriver, 19mm (90% sure of this size, I forgot to note the size) socket with extension, standard Philips head screwdriver, torque wrench, and unless you have an impact gun you will need a friend to help you through one step.
The first picture a hardcore blast from the past picture of my car ...but it's the only good picture I have of the stock steering wheel because I didn't take the best pictures during my actual steering wheel change, i just remembered to take the important ones. Also, sorry my camera is kind of shitty and would be blurry in some pictures. I did the best I could do with my crap camera.
What you start with:
Ready for it! Whoa old pic!
When you park the car in preparation for this, MAKE SURE the steering wheel is pointed straight ahead, and do not turn the wheels while you are doing this.
First thing you need to do is undo the ground AND the positive on the battery. You need to then wait at least ten minutes before starting this endeavor. I waited about 45 minutes just because I'm paranoid and I'm lazy too. This is to ensure the airbag capacitor discharges.
Remove the small plastic cover under the steering wheel:
Pry it with a screwdriver here, then pull the plastic cover towards the steering wheel:
You'll expose the airbag connector, pry it apart by pushing in and then twisting a flat head screwdriver (this is the one pic my camera refused to take clearly):
After you've done that, remove the small plastic cover on the left side of the steering wheel by prying with a screwdriver here:
Which will reveal this (this is one of the two bolts you will need a tamper proof set for, i'll get back to you guys on the exact size one):
Then you will need to remove the cruise control plastic panel, the back half behind the buttons, pry here and use your fingers to squeeze and pull it out at the same time:
Which will reveal this:
Undo the two Philips head screws on the left, and then you see the other tamper proof bolt you'll have to remove. When you undo the two small screws you can pull the cruise control buttons off, they will just pop off their connector.
Now, you can go ahead and remove the two tamper proof bolts. Before you completely remove them, be sure to support the airbag from falling out. When it comes out, hold the front away from your body as you carry it, place it in a safe location far away from anyone, especially animals and children. BE SAFE PEOPLE!!
Now, you'll see this, looks intimidating, but it's crazy simple, I promise:
Now, you can remove the steering wheel center nut. IIRC this is a 19mm nut. You'll need an extension to get a decent sized ratchet to clear the steering wheel, I used about an 8 inch extender and it was perfect. If you have an impact you can get it right off, I didn't have one so I had to have a friend hold the steering wheel steady while I broke the nut loose.
Now you will need the steering wheel puller:
Before you start using this, take some white out or something similar and mark where the steering wheel meets the center threaded shaft, so when you reassemble you can put it on straight. I found you don't have to be crazy accurate with this since you'll be be putting the steering wheel back on straight anyway, so you'll know what "angle" to put the wheel back on.
I forgot to take pictures of me actually using the puller, but I can describe it to you:
While the unit is "assembled" like the pictures show, you need to screw the silver bolts into these two holes:
Mine didn't fit that well, you only need to screw them in a turn or so for them to catch enough to use the puller. When they are snug, tighten down the black center bolt into the center of the steering wheel threaded shaft.. The little black collar in the puller box goes around the bottom of the black center bolt to help keep it centered as you tighten. As you tighten, the steering wheel will pop off. As you remove it, ensure that the cruise control and airbag sensor wires do not snag as you pull them through the steering wheel.
After the steering wheel is off, you'll need to undo these bolts to remove the whole plastic assembly:
Once that is off, you can remove the cruise control bracket, which is these two screws:
Then you will have to remove this black unit by removing these screws:
Congratulations, you can now start reassembling with your new steering wheel you want to install. Thanks once again to jserrano for the good condition leather SE steering wheel.
Start by reinstalling that black unit. Then reinstall the cruise control metal bracket. After that, reinstall the large plastic assembly. Don't forget to re-attach the horn button connectors. I decided to disassemble the horn buttons and clean the contacts to ensure they would work properly for a long time. I had problems with the buttons on my previous steering wheel. I had to push them just the right way to get them to activate.
When you reinstall the steering wheel onto the hub, you need to start by turning the rotating hub assembly. You need to turn the assembly clockwise until it stops. Do not use force, it will stop easily on it's own. Then you need to turn it back counter clockwise a certain number of turns before you put the steering wheel on. This part is where some people may need some clarification. In the haynes manual, it told me to twist the assembly back 2.5 turns before installing the steering wheel, on the actual twisting assembly, it told me to twist it 4 times back before installing the wheel. Since in my experience the assembly only turned clockwise about 3 turns before stopping, I decided to only turn it back about 2.5 turns because I thought 4 turns would turn it back too far, possibly causing it to break when I turned the wheel hard over to the left. When you turn it back, you need to turn it back a little less than 3 turns counterclockwise until the white pin aligns with the arrow which is at the direct bottom of the assembly. I forgot to take a picture of the spinning assembly directly, but this is what it looks like:
As you install the wheel, make sure you correctly align the splines, do not just force the wheel on. As you install it, pull the airbag connector and cruise control wires through the hole in the steering wheel. Move it around and slightly left and right until it aligns with the splines it was removed from (this is where your mark and keeping the wheel straight comes in handy). Tuck the wires down into their clips and try to keep them neatly wired and not twisted around. Now you can reinstall the airbag. I actually had some problems with this. My airbag sat way over to the left with a huge gap to the right between it and the steering wheel. I had to dremel the mounting holes of the airbag out to be able to push the airbag in furthur before securing the bolts. I believe this is probably related to variations in altima assembly. However, after reaming out the holes a little bit, I was able to get the airbag to fit well without a large gap to the right.
Other than these issues, reassembly is completely the opposite of dissasembly. Make sure you torque down the center nut to appropriate specs (22 to 29 ft lbs). Also, make sure you torque the airbag tamper proof torx bolts down to the correct specs too (132 to 216 inch lbs).
I must say, this is an awesome upgrade. The leather feels much nicer than the rubbery plastic of the lower model Altimas. Since you touch the steering wheel all the time, changing it to leather makes you really notice the change and you really get to enjoy it. Definitely gives you a whole new feel to the interior.
yea, good right up, im thinking about painting my interior, but im worried about the durabilitry. any tips? and this is awesome to know bc i would need to know how to do this, because painting my blue steering wheel black would be difficult and it would wear. and is that a big air freshener in your vents?
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