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Car: Audi | S3 | 8L0 (Mk1) | S3 | Hatchback
Engine: BAM | 1.8 | Inline 4 | (225 VVT) | Turbocharged | Petrol

RS4 Alcantara Steering Wheel

Introduction

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This article is a how-to guide for replacing your 3 spoke 'Sport' steering wheel with an OEM Alcantara steering wheel.< br/> The 3 spoke steering wheel was introduced around 1999 and has been used on many Audi models since.
Please see the photo to the left for a picture of a wheel of this type, the one photographed was in my S3 8L.

The B5 RS4 was available with optional Alcantara steering wheel and gearlever (and even seats on the continent), both are available in black, or super rare white. The steering wheel at least fits most Audi's between 1999 and 2005. This guide covers the S3 8L Facelift specifically however, installation is similar if not identical for Mk1 TT and other cars on the Golf 4/A3 8L platform.
rs4b5alcantara A good source for the part is eBay, search for a user called 'qalbeli'. Expect to pay around £250 for a brand new item.

01/2009 Since I first wrote this article I have learnt of 2 more black Alcantara wheels available in the 3 spoke style; 1 is a black Alcantara wheel available with the Mk1 TTS, which has white stitching and is without a model inscription on the lower spoke. The 2nd is an option on the standard TT and has black stitching and again without model inscription.

Fitting

1 - Disconnect battery

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First off as with all airbag related work, disconnect the battery at the positive terminal.
On the S3, this is in the engine bay at the N/S front underneath a plastic guard.

2 - Remove Airbag

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Now inside the car, the next step is to remove the airbag. The airbag is held on my 2 T30 Torx screws, 1 on at the rear of the wheel on each side. Move the wheel into a suitable position to give you access at the rear with a 3/8" wrench.

3 - Remove steering wheel

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When both securing bolts are removed, the airbag can be carefully withdrawn from the steering wheel. Withdraw trhe airbag far enough to gain sufficient access to the rear, where the connecting wires are attached. The multiplug has a security fastener which must be raised up with a small flat blade screwdriver before the plug can be withdrawn. Once free, place the airbag somewhere safe.

Next disconnect the horn/airbag/MFSW (if fitted) wires from the connecter at the top of the steering wheel, and use a 10mm spline socket to remove the steering wheel retaining bolt. Carefully withdraw the steering wheel, being careful to ensure the snap ring behind stays in the same position.

4 - Swap horn mechanism across

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Ignore this step if your steering wheel came with a central horn switch assembly. My steerign wheel was brand new did not.

The horn switch assembly is in 2 parts; an upper and lower which are separated by springs. The upper section is held in by 3 T30 Torx bolts, once these are removed the bracket can be removed, but be careful to keep the springs.

Use pliers to carefully remove the 2 friction fittings, and withdraw the lower bracket/electrical contact.

Refit these components to the new steering wheel in reverse order, along with the horn wires.

5 - Refit steering wheel

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With the horn mechanism back in place, the refit of the steering wheel is very simple.

For maximum safety, insert the keys into the ignition and turn to position 2 before the battery is reconnected. That way, should there be any problems, the Airbag goes off whilst you're near the engine bay, rather than when you're in front of it.

© Mark Stewart, Sunday 15th July 2007
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