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Project Rolla 2.0, Steering Wheel Upgrade

Finally, second time lucky, it was time to replace the old four-spoke wheel with my three-spoke.

Before selling the Liftback I swapped the original wheel in and kept the three-spoke, as I knew I would want it in the Carib. I like how it looks and feels.

A few weeks ago I actually tried to install the wheel but fell short due to the airbag connector on the clock spring being completely different.

The Liftback/three-spoke has this style

Which is completely different to what’s in the Carib

I gave up that night and just refit the standard wheel. I had a plan though; swap the clock spring with one that has the right connector.

A few days later a trip to Pick A Part sorted me out with a clock spring from an AE112R liftback like my old one, which since the wheel worked on my car, it should work with that one too.

Before starting the job of fitting the wheel again, I had a stitch on cover show up. I had previously used one of these on the MX5 and liked how it felt. This one was better quality and designed to fit a bit nicer than that one.

After a couple of hours with a needle and thread, this is what I had. It’s not perfect, but a damn sight better than the old worn leather.

To fit the wheel I started by removing the old wheel and the shrouds on the column. One screw underneath, and two on the front behind the steering wheel sees the shrouds off. The top one was stuck, but I could work around it without removing it completely.

There is a hidden screw for the top shroud near the ignition barrel

The clockspring is held in place with four little screws, and two plugs (the black and yellow ones in the photo above). The yellow plug has a retaining clip over it which has to be disengaged first.

Before fitting the replacement clockspring (unless it’s new and locked) it MUST be centered, otherwise you risk breaking it the first time you turn the wheel to lock. The big yellow sticker on the clockspring says how many turns end to end it has, and to gently turn it to the left until it stops and then turn it back the other way half of the amount of full turns it has. In my case mine has 5 turns end to end, so I rotated it to the stop, and then 2.5 turns will mean it’s in the center. If you have done this right the arrow on the sticker and the arrow on the housing should line up. Now you can fit it to the column.

The new wheel simply slips on the splines, the nut is tightened, everything plugged in and the airbag fitted. Everything plugged in as it should. I did grab the horn connector with the replacement clock spring as that was different on the old wheel too.

And it looks great!

The airbag light is off, and the horn works. Great success.

Of course, since the battery was disconnected I had to take the car for a spin, just to help the ECU learn again. The wheel feels great in the hand, with a slightly thicker rim now, and the better shape and smaller diameter over the old four-spoke wheel really helps make the car feel sportier.

A job that was harder than it needed to be, but in the end well worth the wait.

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Luis
Luis
6 months ago

Nice! Wanted to ask, where did you find that steering wheel cover? I’ve been looking for one everywhere but can’t seem to find one. Even went out of my way and bought the fabric hoping a tailor or an upholsterer would do the job, but no luck there either.