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I've got an '85 Corvette, and the steering wheel is really beat to hell so I'm looking to replace it with a more modern and sporty wheel.

What I'm looking to find out:

  • Is this a safe repair to do myself?
  • I've got basic sockets, wrenches, etc but what tools will I need, anything specific or unusual?
  • How long should I expect this to take (roughly)?
  • Anecdotes from your experience replacing steering wheels?
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The thing to watch out for is the splines on the steering column. The way most aftermarket wheels I have seen works is that the wheel has 6-12 small socket-head bolts in the centre that attach it to a mounting boss, which is splined to fit onto the column. The wheel manufacturers then generally sell different bosses to suit different makes of car - I doubt you'd find any difficulty getting one for a Corvette.

Be very careful if the existing wheel has an airbag, it doesn't take a lot to set them off, and you don't want it exploding in yuor face! Other than that, as long as you've got a suitable wheel with a compatible mount, and you make sure it is done up properly, it should be fine.

Before you remove the old wheel, get your wheel alignment done properly, then park the car so that the wheel is exactly central (this is much easier if your steering wheel locks centrally), so that your turn signals work correctly with the new wheel. Unbolt the old wheel using a suitable large socket, remove and fit the new one at the same orientation, then refit the nut and tighten to the book torque figure.

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See if your local Auto Parts store rents a steering wheel puller.

I haven't ever done one myself, but I've heard stories of people smacking themselves in the face when trying to pull the steering wheel off by hand.

Local stores like AutoZone, O'Reilly's, Murry's, etc often rent tools such as these and often only cost you money if you don't return it within X days to get your deposit back.

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As long as there's no airbag, and no other electrical connections (cruise control, radio, etc) then it should be pretty easy to change as long as you get a replacement designed for the car.

You may not have a large-enough socket to get the nut off, but there shouldn't be any other special tools required.

I've changed out a few steering wheels in the past (but never on a Corvette) and don't think it's ever taken me more than 15-30 minutes. Make sure you tighten the nut properly - there's nothing like a steering wheel coming off in your hands while driving down the highway to induce a sudden panic.

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There is cruise control, but it is on the neck, not the wheel it self; any thoughts on generic wheels, I've found a few I like at the local auto parts store, that are "supposedly" compatible. –  Nate Apr 17 '11 at 23:39

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