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M3 CSL Alcantara steering wheel

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

The M3 CSL came with many interior enhancements including a lightweight Alcantara steering wheel, it is unique to the CSL and a different item to the 'competition package' Alcantara sport wheel found on US cars by virtue of the M tri band stitching and lightweight base material.

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

The CSL steering wheel can be fitted to all cars in the E46 range, including early cars with the older 3 spoke wheel (although in this case you must also fit the round airbag with the wheel).

In this guide I am fitting the wheel to my 2005 Cabriolet with the standard Sport steering wheel (left) although the procedure is exactly the same for the rest of the range, 1998-2006.

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

Start by removing the Negative lead from the battery. You should always do this as a safety measure when working with Airbags, and also to avoid an Airbag error code and resulting dashboard light which can only be reset by someone with the correct EOBD interface.

The battery is located in the O/S/R of the boot.

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

Next remove the Airbag. This part can be extremely tricky if you haven't done it before. The airbag is held in by retaining 'prongs' (red - left) which must be opened to release the Airbag. Note - airbag is already removed (left) for clarity.

There is a hole each side at the rear of the wheel, insert a small flat blade screwdriver to open the prongs as shown in the photo (green - left).

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

Disconnect 2 multiplugs at the rear of the Airbag and withdraw it. Next remo the 16mm bolt holding the steering wheel on, along with 2 multiplugs if your car has a MFSW.

As my CSL wheel was brand new it was bare therefore I had to swap my trim, controls and Airbag mounting plate (right photo) across.

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

To remove the trim and multifunction panel as one peice, remove 2 T35 Torx screws at the bottom rear of the steering wheel behind the ///M badge, and then a further 2 inside the Airbag recess (red - left) and finally a small Torx screw (yellow - left) to withdraw the Earth lead.

The Airbag mount is held in by 3 Torx screws (blue - left).

E46 M3 CSL Steering Wheel

Refitting is exactly the same as removal with the exception that the Airbag simply pushes home with a 'clunk'. Re-connect the batttery last, and as it has been disconnected the clock will need to be set.

That's it! Enjoy the unique sensation of driving with an Alcantara steering wheel.

© Mark Stewart, Saturday 12th May 2007
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