How to change a steering wheel with airbag

DIY Replacing airbag and steering wheel on Chevy Suburban

How to replace or swap an airbag steering wheel

How to Remove a Steering-Wheel with Airbag

How to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag

The steering wheel is a crucial component, which guides and directs the person while driving the car. With so many automobile advancements, this wheel of the car has also been equipped with a safety feature called Airbag, to protect the driver.

However, after being used once it turns into a non-reusable commodity. Thus, making it necessary to remove a Steering Wheel Airbag and get a new one installed quickly.

Purpose of Airbag in Steering Wheel

These Airbags like soft cushions in the steering wheel are actually a part of the car’s airbag control system, which activates and inflate along with other airbags in the vehicle during its collision. Thus, it protects the driver from any major injury. However, sometimes the removal of the airbag is essential even before it is used because of its malfunctioning and sudden activation. Otherwise, it can cause blindness while driving, and this can be even more dangerous.

Tools Required

In order to remove a Steering Wheel Airbag, it is better to consult a trained mechanic but in case, you are in the middle of nowhere, then always have these tools in handy.

Torx Screwdriver Kit


Needle Nose Pliers

Steps to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag

1 Cut Out Battery Power

Firstly, check for the negatively charged cable with the use of the multimeter. Then, disconnect the cable from the battery and wait for at least 10 minutes in order to check that all the power in the circuit has been completely exhausted. Otherwise, the bag would be released suddenly.

2. Removal of Airbag Mounting Bolts

Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag in the right way
Find some tips to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag

Now, after disconnecting the battery, switch on the ignition button to unlock the movement of the steering wheel for the access to its mounting bolts.

Next, locate the bolts at the back of the steering wheel by turning it 90o and then, 180o to loosen them. In most of the cases nowadays, the bolts remain inside the wheel only and don’t come out. After this, gently remove the outer assembly of the wheel without damaging the wiring harness connector attached to its backside.

3. Disengage the Wires

Next, two wire sets can be seen of different colors, out of which horn is black in color and the other set belonging to the module is green and yellow in color.

Now, with the help of the screwdriver, carefully remove the horn pad connector. After this, the wiring connector is removed, which has two-colored devices on each of the connectors. At this stage, the grey colored device is pushed downward. Next, the orange device is pulled upward for the release of the safety clip.

When the primary clip is removed from the connector, it is now time to take out the connectors out with the help of a small pick.

Tip: While the connector is removed, make sure that it doesn’t corrode or get damaged easily.

Useful ways to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag
Steps to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag

4. Finally, Remove the Airbag

Now, remove a Steering Wheel Airbag and don’t keep it near any electrical source or else, it may inflate the airbag accidentally.

Finally, now you can re-install the new airbag and reconnect the wires to start driving your car again. So next time whenever you face any such problem, these maintenance tips would surely help you in this regard.

How to Remove a Steering Wheel Airbag Safely

Need to remove or replace your vehicles air safety bag? We are a team of certified ASE mechanics that have created this guide for you to help you with the repair or to see what you are paying for when having your car repaired at a garage. Though this system does inflate rapidly when activate there is no danger when working with airbag systems once the car battery is disconnected. Let’s jump right in!

How does it work?

An automotive airbag safety system is designed to help keep passengers safe in the event of an accident by inflating itself when a car strikes an object at speeds above 8 to 14 MPH. It also automatically deflates at temperatures of above 200°F in case of fire to allow the occupant to exit the vehicle.

An airbag inflation module is located at the center of the steering wheel which contains the nylon style airbag and inflation capsule. The steering wheel airbag is contained within a trim cover which is designed with a molded seam which tears open as the airbag deploys.

There are four or more impact sensors around the vehicle which send a signal to the main SRS (safety restraint system) computer in case of an accident. An electrical signal is then sent to discharge rapidly expanding gases through an orifice located at the rear of the airbag which immediately fills to instantly cushion the impact of the head and torso to prevent injury.

The frontal passenger side airbag operates in much of the same manner as the driver’s side with the exception of a weight sensor located in the passenger seat which detects the presence of a person or infant sitting in the seat. The technology behind this infant or toddler detection has been advanced throughout the automotive industry with the use of weight sensors informing the system if someone is sitting in the seat weighing 75 pounds or less which automatically disables the passenger side bag.

Even with the technological advancements, passengers should set back away from the airbag and not lean forward when they drive or ride to avoid any adverse effects of the airbag deployment in the event of an accident. Some cars and trucks are equipped with a manual control switch that will disable the system for small children and infant seats.

Side door air impact bags were introduced to aid further safety measures which are located inside the seat, door panel or side molding. Some side airbags can be located in along the roofline, back seat or the inboard edge of the door sill. The initial airbag system was enhanced and replaced with the supplemental restraint system or SRS which was introduced in the S-Class Mercedes-Benz in 1980, Porsche was the first to introduce the passenger side airbag.

What Goes Wrong?

If an airbag warning light is on while driving the airbag safety system has been disabled and will not activate in the event of an accident which is dangerous. Your vehicle goes through a diagnostic check when the ignition key is turned on to ensure the system is operational. If the computer detects a problem it will shut down the system while illuminating the airbag warning light. This warning light will illuminate when:

  • The fuse is blown
  • One of the airbag connectors is still disconnected after a repair
  • The airbag safety module has detected a problem
  • An airbag has deployed
  • A sensor wring is damaged
  • Short in the wiring harness


Why Does The Airbag Need to Be Removed?

There are primarily two reasons an airbag needs to be removed or replaced. The first and most obvious is that the car has been in an accident and the airbag has deployed in which case replacement is required because they cannot be reused. The next is a repair that requires the removal of an airbag that needs to be done such as a turn signal switch which is located behind the steering wheel. Other repairs include the removal of a side airbag such as a window regulator replacement job. As you can see by the image below the side airbag stands in the way of the window regulator.

Before You Begin Removing the Airbag

Begin with the vehicle on level ground with the transmission in park, set the emergency brake.

Performing a removal and replacement is not too difficult and can be done using everyday tools. This job will take about an hour. Disconnect the battery’s negative cable to disable the system for about 5 minutes before work begins and leave it disconnected until the repair job is completed. This will help prevent electrical short circuits and accidentally deploying the unit while the job is being done. Though appearances may vary the process is similar for most vehicles.

We will give you a list of tools and supplies including specific parts and manuals at the end of this guide.

Step 1: Remove the Airbag Mounting Bolts

While the battery is disconnected turn the ignition switch to the on position. This will unlock the wheel and allow you to move it in either direction and help you access the mounting bolts or release clips (On Gm vehicles) which are located on the backside of the steering wheel cover.

Now grasp the steering wheel and turn it 90° locating the first mounting bolt or clip upward.

Look behind the steering wheel to find the access holes where the bolts are located. Some manufacturers have slots which give access to a retainer clip or ring which requires a screwdriver to release.

After locating the access hole loosen the mounting bolts or clips which will release one side of the airbag. For some applications, the bolts will be retained in the wheel and will not come out which is normal.

Once one side has been removed or released turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction 180°. Then locate and loosen or remove the opposing mounting bolt or retainer clip.

Gently grasp the assembly while pulling it away from the steering wheel. Be careful to not pull it out quickly because the wiring harness connector for the horn and deployment controls will still be attached to the backside which you don’t want to damage.

Step 2: Disconnect Wiring Connectors

On the backside of the airbag will be the wiring connectors. These connectors are for the first and second stage deployment and are color-coded one green and one yellow, the horn connector is black.

Using a small pick or screwdriver carefully release the horn pad connector and pull it away from the airbag. This safety clip is made of plastic so be gentle as not to break it.

Wiring connectors can have one or more safety clips or operations to remove the connector. This connector has two separate devices one orange and one grey on each connector.

Use a small pick or screwdriver to release the primary safety clip by pushing it downward. Each manufacturer has a different method of release so push in all directions until it unlocks.

Once the primary safety clip has been released gently pull up on the secondary clip. This will help you remove the clip from the connector.

After the clip has been released grasp it and removes it from the connector.

Now the connector is ready to be removed. While pulling up slightly use a small pick to release the tang (barb) on each side of the connector while gently pulling upward. You may need to gently rock the connector back and forth a little to aid in its disconnection.

The connector will now be removed, inspect it for damage or corrosion.

Step 3: Removing the Airbag

After removing the electrical connectors inspect the control switches and horn pad for damage. If replacing the unit because of deployment inspect and match the electrical connectors, they should be identical. Once repairs are completed such as removing the steering wheel to replace the turn signal switch, cruise control or ignition switch simply reinstall the airbag by reversing these steps. Most electrical connectors produce an audible click to confirm they’re the proper installation.

After the repair is complete turn the ignition key to the on position and starts the engine to straighten the steering wheel, the airbag warning light should be off. If when the repair is complete and the light is on disassemble to check the connections.

In the following video, we will show you how to remove an airbag and disconnect the electrical connectors which can be tricky if you don’t know how. Please watch the video below and follow the information in this guide for tips and information.

If you need more information please visit our forum where thousands of airbag questions have been previously answered by our online mechanics.


How to Remove a 1996 Ford F250 Steering Wheel and Airbag

Do you need to remove your steering wheel and don’t know how?  This article is written for you.


  • Metric Socket Set
  • Torx Socket
  • Standard Sockets

Other Procedures Needed:
Air Bag Warning Light Reset maybe

Removal of a Non-Airbag Steering Wheel

Disconnect the battery negative lead.

Remove the steering wheel as follows:

  • For the car without airbags:
  • Remove the steering wheel horn pad by pulling firmly on the pad. It’ll be tough but, don’t worry about breaking it. If you have an aftermarket wheel (i.e. Momo) with a center horn button, gently pry around the outside of the button with a small flat tip screwdriver or probe to dislodge the button from the wheel.
  • Disconnect the wire from the back of the horn button.
  • Using a 15/16″ (or 24 mm) socket and ratchet, remove the steering wheel retaining nut and the washer behind the nut.
  • Using a paint pen, fingernail polish, or another appropriate marker, mark the orientation of the steering wheel to the splines on the end of the steering column shaft.
  • Pull the steering wheel straight off the end of the steering column.
  • For cars with airbags:
  • The airbag can be removed after the battery has been disconnected for at least 30 minutes.
  • On the back side of the steering wheel, there are two Torx head screws which are recessed into the back of the column. Using a T30 Torx socket and ratchet, remove the screws.
  • Slide the airbag assembly off of the front of the steering column and disconnect the plug on the back of the airbag. Set the airbag aside where it can not get damaged (face up).
  • Using a 15/16″ (or 24 mm) socket and ratchet, remove the steering wheel retaining nut and the washer behind the nut.
  • Using a paint pen, fingernail polish, or another appropriate marker, mark the orientation of the steering wheel to the splines on the end of the steering column shaft.
  • Pull the steering wheel straight off the end of the steering column.


  1. Slide the steering wheel on to the steering column paying attention to the alignment marks made during removal.
  2. Install the wheel retaining nut and torque to 45 Nm (33 ft-lbs).
  3. For non-airbag cars attach the horn button wire to the horn button pad and press the pad into place on the steering wheel.
  4. For airbag equipped cars, attach the wire to the back of the airbag, slide it into the steering wheel, and attach by installing the two Torx head screws (T30).
  5. Standing outside the car reach into the car and turn the ignition on. The reason for being outside the car is that this is one of the times I’ve seen airbags inadvertently deploy. Start the car and see if the airbag warning light is illuminated. If it is, reset the warning light


How to replace an Airbag Steering Wheel

First, unplug the negative battery cable, and let the car sit for 15-30 minutes.  This is to power down all modules, including the airbag module.  Start by removing the plastic plates that cover the airbag screws on both sides of the steering wheel. I used a key but a flathead screwdriver might be more suitable. Insert the screwdriver into the indent and it should pry out very easily.

Inside you will find a T-25 Torx screw. I didn’t have a Torx driver that large so I made a $10 trip to Home Depot.

Mine was on very tight and required some force to loosen. Remove the screws from both sides.

The airbag/steering wheel center part should lift right out but will have some wiring attached

Unclip all wires from the inside of the steering wheel. The big yellow clip requires that you pull down on the spring-loaded yellow sleeve to remove. The smaller clips just need to be pressed in.

There is only one nut holding in the steering wheel. I can’t remember the size right now but it is a medium sized nut, I believe 19mm or 21mm in size. I had a large breaker bar that I used to loosen it but it came off without too much trouble.

Getting the wiring ribbon cable back in place

The long white ribbon cable is there to facilitate the wheel spinning around in both directions. You will want to keep it at its default alignment. To do this, make sure you don’t spin it around anymore, straighten it or pull it out. Just remove the plastic top and wiring that comes out of it from the old steering wheel, being careful not to change the alignment. Re-insert the ribbon cable back into the pocket so that it all lays flush and isn’t bent or out of place.

Put the cap back on into the same position it was in before removal.

Installing the new steering wheel

Place the new steering wheel onto the center splined bolt and feed the wiring through the hole. Pull all of the wirings through the hole and get ready to line it up.

If you’ve marked the alignment with a pen, use that to line it up, otherwise, eyeball it, put the bolt on, drive around a little, realign, replace, repeat. Once you’ve got it in the correct alignment, tighten the bolt by holding the steering wheel with one hand and tightening with the other. I don’t know the amount of torque required but it should be tight without using strenuous force.

Reconnecting the wiring

Re-clip all the wiring back on the way it was. My model has cruise control but the wiring is really just for cruise control, horn, grounds and the airbag. Reattach everything and there should be no loose wires. Make sure to test the horn to check that it’s all connected properly. After driving you will also want to check the cruise control wiring if applicable. The large, yellow airbag connector needs to be pulled back to be connected just as it required for disconnection.

Installing the new airbag

The new airbag should now be wired and ready to screw back into place. Just insert it into the only orientation it works in, push it down tight into the steering wheel and tighten the screws on the sides. The screws should go on very tight to detract from theft or malfunction. Replace the plastic plates on the side which just pop back into place and you are all finished.

Note – Your SRS light might still be on as there may be other parts required to get your SRS/airbag system 100% operational. Even if you have reinstalled every sensor and airbag, the airbag may still need to be reset which can be done by a dealership. This guide offers no guarantee that the airbag system will work until it has been checked by an authorized facility.

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