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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I admit I don't know much about air bags, but I need to get familiar with this aspect. I've been thinking about replacing my steering wheel with the FRPP FR500 wheel, as described here:

http://mustangworld.com/ourpics/fcar/fr500wheel.htm

This makes the installation sound very simple, but there are a couple of lines stating,

"Remove the 8mm bolts that hold the airbag in place.

3. Airbag will fall out but still be attached by a wire. "

Sounds simple, but looking at Ford's service CD-ROM, there are about a million "Warning!" entries surrounding the airbag and its removal. Now I know the Ford instructions will error on the side of caution, but is it really this easy? Is the airbag assembly this stable? Can I damage the airbag functionality via removal and transplant to a new wheel? I have no problem passing the job on to an expert if I'm approaching an area over my head or with potential safety implications. Thanks!

Frank
 

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About the best piece of advice that I can give you is to DISCONNECT THE BATTERY.

The rest is really very simple. Once the two bolts are removed, there will be enough slack in the wire to pull the airbag assembly far enough away from the steering wheel to disconnect it.

Unless you do something really violent to the airbag assembly, there is virtually no way that you can damage it by transferring it from one steering wheel to the next.

Andrew
 

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Andrew is right. Disconnecting the battery is THE first and most important step to remember. Just to be extra safe, I let the car stand for 10 minutes or so after disconnecting the negative cable from the battery.

After that, the entire procedure took me less than 10 minutes. Very simple, but you will need a steering wheel puller. I picked one up at Auto Zone for about $15.

T-
 

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You don't even have to disconnect the battery, these are just Fords normal air bag warnings. just take the bolt covers off, remove the 2 8mm bolts, pull the air bag out and disconnect the wires. Then remove the steering wheel bolt and then screw it in a couple of threads by hand, start hitting the top and bottom of the steering wheel with your hands to try to rock the wheel in and out until it comes loose and goes up against the bolt that you left in to prevent the wheel from flying up and hitting you in the mouth or damaging the wiring. then undo the bolt and voila!! steering wheel is off.
 

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It takes what? 30 seconds to disconnect the battery's ground cable? Why risk an air bag sucker punch and a $300 replacement expense to save less than a minute?

Sure, the probability of the bag deploying even without disconnecting the battery is very low. But the probability is ZERO if you just take that few seconds to be certain.

As for rocking the old wheel off, that may work. Depends on the individual car.

T-
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, and yes, everything I've read stresses the battery disconnect as step one. I take it that will have no impact on any other electrical systems?

As for the air bag, I was just kind of surprised by the casual "the bag will fall out" reference - I guess the housing is pretty stout and things will hang together during the transplant.

Any other advice on the steering wheel bolt? I think someone mentioned using a Torx T-50.

Again, thanks to y'all as always for the input.

Frank
 

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Spend the extra couple bucks and get a puller. The bang and shimmy method of getting the wheel off will likely leave your steering column with some play in it that will get real annoying real quick when driving.

Lon
 

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Better way is to locate the the fuse for the ABS system, and pull it - then depress the brake pedal to discharge the capacitive charge in the air bag control unit.

It it much safer to do this then risk a short triggering the airbag, which can, and has, caused injury to shadetree mechanics. Be safe, be smart, take an extra few minutes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cobra '03, do you mean use the fuse method instead of disconnecting the battery's negative terminal, or instead of the suggestion to not even bother disconnecting the battery? Are you referring to the possibility of a short even though the battery has been disconnected? Thanks -

Frank
 

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frank3si,
I have the FR500 in my car... I disconnected the battery, used a steering wheel puller and no problems with the air bag :) Matter of fact, it's one of the best darn mods I've done yet... the old steering wheel was a POS and was chipping/cracking.
 

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If you install race seats with 5-point harness, do the air bags really serve a purpose anymore? I was thinking of switching steering wheels to one that did not have the air bag or cruise control (I never use it). I have a convertible, so the 5-point will make me feel a lot safer on the highway.

Lon
 

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I would change mine in a heartbeat, except I can't get used to the way that the FR500 steering wheel would look with my saddle colored airbag and steering column. Maybe it's time to price some black steering column covers and find a black airbag somewhere.

Andrew
 
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