Community Member Credit: tcaughey
Alright, after tons of research on this subject, it would seem as though it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to actually complete the 95/96 to 97-99 steering wheel swap without any troubles. Of course, there are some, but the swap is actually fairly easy once you know what’s going on.
For those of you who have thought about trying this swap, it truly is fairly easy. I know many have run into problems and thought the only way to make this swap work was to replace more than just the steering wheel, but here is your way around it.
- 97-99 Steering Wheel
- 97-99 Airbag
- 95/96 Clockspring
- **THE 97-99 CLOCKSPRING IS NOT NEEDED**
- T50 Security Torx bit
- Socket Wrench
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Flathead Screwdriver (to pop off covers around steering wheel)
- 13/64 Metal Drilling Bit
- Dremmel tool (Or you can use a larger drill bit on the drill, see below)
Alright, once everything is gathered together, you are ready to start.
**Before going any further, DISCONNECT THE BATTERY**
Removing the steering wheel from the 95/96
Start by removing the plastic trim around the cruise control and the plastic door on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Once removed, take a look and you’ll see two T50 security Torx bolts holding the airbag in place. Use the T50 security Torx bit along with your socket wrench to remove these two bolts. Once removed, pull gently on the steering wheel airbag, turn over, and disconnect the airbag wire harness. Set the airbag aside.
Now, directly in the steering wheel center, you will see a large nut holding the steering wheel to the hub. Remove this. Once removed, give the sides of the steering wheel a good whack. Try hitting it with the palm of your hand a few times in the 12-6-3-9 o’clock positions. Give the steering wheel a good yank, and it should pop right off. (If you prefer, you can use a steering wheel puller, but it’s not necessarily needed…)
Once removed, you should now see the clockspring.
We will now be underneath the dash and steering wheel.
Remove the fusebox door, and the entire thigh cover around the fuse box underneath the dash. Once removed, you should see a metal brace below the steering wheel. Remove this. Now, you should see 6 holes with Philips screws holding the black plastic around the steering column in place. Use a 4″ Philips screwdriver and remove all of these screws. The black plastic should now pop off, and expose the steering column, and the screws holding the clockspring in place. Before doing anything else, try to place the new steering wheel on the hub.
You will notice that the steering wheel does not line up with the clockspring. This is due to the slightly different 95/96 and 97-99 clockspring and steering wheel designs. You could use a 97-99 clockspring, but it will require more work and parts (such as the 97-99 hub, and yes, it is slightly different from the 95/96 hub). The clockspring for the 97 came with my steering wheel, and I can tell you that when you try to mount the newer clockspring, the mounting holes do not line up, and require the 97-99 hub to mount it.
So, for this writeup, we will be using the original 95/96 clockspring.
Remove the 4 screws holding the clockspring in place. Disconnect the clockspring harness underneath the steering wheel. Once removed, you can now test the fitment of the 95/96 clockspring to the 97/99 steering wheel. Line up the plastic square (the one where the wires are coming out of), with the square-ish hole on the backside of the wheel. As you can see, it ALMOST fits, but not quite. And, you’ll notice that hole for the nub on the clock spring is a little off. Here is where we do a little modification.
Take note as to where the hole for the clockspring nub should be. Mark it. This is where you will be drilling a new hole in the steering wheel for the nub to sit into. Drill very carefully, you do not want to ruin the steering wheel covering.
The green circle is the new hole on the 97-99 steering wheel that must be drilled to make room for the nub on the 95/96 clockspring. The yellow arrow is the hole for the nub on the 97+ clockspring; See how the hole is off?
The 95/96 nub we are drilling a hole for is circled in green, also take note of the blue trim ring around the hub. There are little pegs that will line up on the back of the shaft of the actual steering wheel. You will need to rotate this so that the steering wheel shaft holes line up with the pegs. When rotating the blue ring, make sure you keep the black square in the down position.
Once the new hole is drilled in the steering wheel, you can test the fitment again. The nub now goes into the steering wheel where you drilled the new hole, but the square plastic on the clock spring is a little too large to fit into the square opening on the steering wheel. This is where we will use a Dremel tool (or a small saw/knife, VERY CAREFULLY as you do not want to cut the wires coming out of the square). You will want to trim down the bottom quarter-inch of the plastic square. This will give the clockspring the clearance to sit nice and flush with the back of the steering wheel.
The area of the plastic square that must be trimmed is circled in purple. It now looks like a little step. The nub we drilled a hole for in the steering wheel is circled in green
Here the purple circle shows the area where the 95/96 clockspring won’t clear without the clockspring trimmed. Once the clockspring is trimmed into a stair, and the hole for the nub is drilled, the back of the steering wheel will sit flush with the clockspring.
Voila! You have now slightly modified the 95/96 clockspring to fit the 97-99 steering wheel.
The green circle is where the nub is, you cannot see it here due to the black plastic covering the hole. Also, notice this image shows how the steering wheel will line up in the straight position due to the position of the plastic square on the 95/96 clockspring lining up with the square hole on the 97+ steering wheel. As you can see, the steering wheel is also sitting on the hub and clockspring, nice and flush.
You can now reassemble the clockspring to the hub, and the plastic trim that goes around it. YOU NEED TO CENTER THE CLOCKSPRING WHEN REINSTALLING IT. Do this by starting with the plastic square in the down position. Turn the clockspring to the left or right until it tenses up. This is the endpoint of the motion of the clockspring. DO NOT FORCE IT PAST THIS POINT, IT WILL BREAK! You should be able to start in the down position and turn it left and right 2 full turns until you reach the tension point. Once you are sure you can turn the clockspring in both directions the same amount of turns, make sure you reconnect the clockspring to the wiring harness underneath the steering wheel. Only when these steps are completed, you can now place the steering wheel up the clockspring, making sure the wheel is straight. The clockspring nub goes into the new hole, and the black square goes into the square-ish opening on the steering wheel. You might have to play with it a little to make the steering wheel sit flush on the clockspring/hub. You will see a little blue ring that has three nubs that fit inside 3 holes on the backside shaft of the steering wheel. These need to be lined up too. Now, reuse the large nut used to hold the steering wheel to the hub, making sure it is nice and tight. You do not want the steering wheel to slip while driving!
Run the airbag/cruise control wiring harnesses through the backside of the steering wheel and connect the 97-99 airbag harness and the cruise control harness. Use the T50 Torx bit to reinstall the Torx bolts to hold the airbag in place. Snap-in all of your black trim doors/covers around the steering wheel. Reconnect the battery and turn on the key. Your airbag light should come on and start flashing. Don’t worry! You just need to reset it.
To reset the airbag light, turn the key to the ‘on’ position. Locate the little door button sensor below the B pillar. Press this 5 times as soon as you turn the ignition to the ‘on’ position, let any codes go by, and turn the ignition ‘off’. You may have to repeat this a few times, but the light should now go away and not flash.
TAKE NOTE THAT THE 95/96 CLOCKSPRING MUST BE SITTING IN THE CENTER POSITION WHEN MOUNTING THE 97+ STEERING WHEEL! IF NOT, THE CLOCKSPRING WON’T HAVE ENOUGH SLACK TO TURN FULLY LEFT OR RIGHT, AND WILL BREAK! I AM NOT RELIABLE FOR YOUR MISTAKES!
Here is the center position of the 95/96 clockspring on the hub. If you use the bottom square as your marking point, from this position, I can turn the clockspring about 2 full turns to the left, or 2 turns the right. This means that the clockspring will turn the full 2 turns, and start to “tense up” just as the square is about to go past this point a third time.
There you go. Patients and confidence will allow this to happen. Enjoy!