View single post by Mark Rosenbaum
 Posted: 09-23-2006 05:05 pm
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Mark Rosenbaum

Joined: 03-12-2005
Location: Kingman, Arizona USA
Posts: 532
I suppose it might be possible to remove the instrument pod without removing the steering wheel, but at best it would be an awkward maneuver and quite frankly I'd be very concerned about the threaded mounts on the rear of the instruments causing damage to the dash and/or steering wheel.  Certainly steering wheel removal is necessary if one has to pull the dash itself.  (Or, I suppose, one might conceivably be able to remove the steering wheel, upper cowl, associated switches, and steering column itself, as a unit, if for some reason one really did not wish to remove the wheel itself.)

The in-wheel escutcheon fits into an annular slot in the face of the steering wheel, and can be removed only by prising it out.  With the early steering wheels the escutcheons were plastic, IIRC, and thus extra caution is necessary.  There's always some risk of damage.  This probably wasn't all that high when the wheel's soft foamy plastic was fresh and supple, but after three decades or more, some crushing and/or tearing is likely.  The application of limited, gentle heat to the area via a hair dryer may help.  For leverage, an implement such as a dulled, round-cornered, broad-bladed putty knife is probably much better than something narrow such as a screw driver.  One might even consider the use of plastic kitchen implements if they seem sufficiently sturdy.

Once the escutcheon has been removed, the single large nut that secures the wheel to the steering shaft is visible.  This has serrations on its contact surface which may slightly abrade the steering wheel's alloy core, but the damage, if any, is solely cosmetic.  Once the nut is removed, the splines on shaft and wheel are visible.  For an initial removal the application of penetrating oil to these will help considerably.  One may also wish to place alignment marks on shaft and wheel to facilitate future reassembly.

Sometimes the wheel can be removed with a lot of to-and-fro tugging at the rim, but usually a 2- or 3-jaw puller is necessary.  An inexpensive puller that relies on threaded holes in the steering wheel does not work as there are no such holes.  When using a puller, some sort of bracing, such as short wooden or metal strips, may be desired to minimize the risk of damage to the body of the steering wheel.  Once the initial grip is broken, the wheel should slip off the shaft without much difficulty.

One or both of the steel half-collars will probably fall out at some time during the removal process; these should be found and retained for use when the wheel (or an aftermarket replacement) is reinstalled.  Delta Motorsports has collars in stock, I believe.

I favor the use of a thin wipe of anti-sieze compound on the splines and threads during reassembly.  The half-collars fit into the forward face of the wheel's hub.  Originally they were secured with a rubber band, but I've found that a silicone sealer works much better.  If alignment marks were made, they can be referred to, or one can center the car's front wheels then install the steering wheel so its crossbar is horizontal, with the potential need to reposition the steering wheel after a road test.  One must also align the tabs on the forward face of the wheel hub with the notches in the rotating collar of the turn signal switch.

The securing nut can then be installed.  For safety's sake it should be torqued down to either 30 ft-lb (per the shop manual sections E6 and E9), or 57 ft-lb (per the Specifications and a service bulletin).  With anti-sieze present, I use the lower torque value.  On my car the nut has always remained tight, but other cars may differ.

Once satisfied with the alignment of the steering wheel, the escutcheon can be reinstalled.  This is usually more difficult than the removal.  I've had least-poor luck by slipping a short side into its slot, then levering the escutcheon into place with a one broad dull blade while guiding the slot lips over the escutcheon with another.  Here again, a bit of gentle heat may help.  Possibly there are specialty tools that might be useful.

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