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      04-06-2013, 09:58 PM   #1
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Installing F20 M-Sport steering wheel in F30

I have a 2012 F30 Sport Line and I have not been 100% satisfied with the steering wheel thickness & feel. I had the same experience with my first BMW (2002 E46) and installed the M-Sport steering wheel a couple of years after I got that car and the difference in feel was huge - for the first time I had a proper steering wheel, not some thin and hard ring. I have to say the feel really completed the car for me.

I purposely elected to get a Sport Line even though the M-Sport (with a proper thick steering wheel) was due to come out in a few months because of BMW's artificial limits on leather color - no Everest Gray in M-Sport. A few months after getting the car back in the states after ED and getting used to the many upgrades, I began to have the same thoughts about upgrading the steering wheel from the standard hard leather wheel. On my E46, I ordered the M-SPort wheel from the 5-series and was able to re-use the airbag module. But, after some checking, it was clear the F10 wheel used a different airbag assembly and the shape did not match the F30. Then, when the F20 1-Series M-Sport came out, it looked like I had found a match.

I checked RealOEM for the part numbers but found the the F20 M-Sport wheel to have a different airbag module than F30 steering wheels. However, the F20 Sport Line wheel part number was the same as the F30 Sport Line and that wheel uses the same airbag module as F20 M-Sport.

F30 Sport air bag ≠ F20 M-Sport airbag
but:
F20 Sport steering wheel = F30 Sport steering wheel
F20 Sport air bag = F20 M-Sport airbag

So, the F20 M-Sport airbag should fit in the F30 Sport steering wheel, and the reverse should be true, namely, the F30 Sport airbag should fit in the F20 M-Sport steering wheel.

The next step was to get my hands on an F20 M-Sport steering wheel. With the part number from RealOEM (32307845877 - no paddle version for my 6MT) I first went to the local dealer. But, they could not order the the part since it was for a car not sold in the states. Next came Google searches. I found several sites but mostly in Russia and I was leery or sending money to these outfits. I finally found what looked to be a fairly reputable shop in Lithuania but eventually found a company in the Netherlands that was a bit cheaper and ended up going with them.
Source: hcsale.com (HC Automotive group) cost: 400€ + 23€ shipping and they take PayPal.

For those with Sport-AT, I assume the paddle version is essentially the same process, with possibly additional wiring/connectors. (part # 32307845878)

Be sure to check RealOEM carefully for proper part number If you have a heated wheel or have the blind spot detection or lane departure system as those wheels are different as well due to the element that vibrates the wheel as a warning.

It took almost 3 months to arrive - supposedly backordered from BMW, but it finally arrive on Friday and was everything I was hoping, soft smooth Nappa leather and much thicker than stock. Pics below of the F20 setup and my bare wheel. The next post will go over the installation.
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Last edited by pcbrew; 04-08-2013 at 10:22 PM. Reason: Added notes about wheel with options: paddles, LDW, etc.
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      04-06-2013, 10:14 PM   #2
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Having done this before on my E46, I felt competent to tackle the work given the help from this thread on removing the airbag & wheel.
http://www.f30post.com/forums/showth...9#post13774669

However, my E46 wheel came with all the switchgear installed and it was not clear how difficult it would be to swap these over.

First, follow instructions on airbag removal in link above & make sure to disconnect the battery before messing with the airbag.

The airbag is more difficult to remove than on my E46 and the E90. There is a soft wrapper around the unit, similar to a very wide rubber band that makes it more difficult to extract from the wheel once you have popped the retaining spring. Once you had the first spring released in the E46, you knew it, as the bag was very loose. Not so with the F30.

Slowly remove the airbag and pop the black connector and then note how the white connector is stuffed into a small recess at the top. You will need to make sure you stuff it back in there on re-assembly.

Once the wheel is off, you need to remove the switchgear. There are 2 screws accessed from the back of the wheel (Torx 20) that first have to be removed.

After the screws are backed out, you need to pry the whole trim+switch assembly from the wheel. Start on one side near the switch and slowly start pulling out. You should soon feel some give as the tab is pulled out of the retaining hole in the wheel. I pulled out the 2 on each side and the did the one at the bottom last. I highlighted these tabs in the picture below.

From here, it's easy to reverse the process and press the switchgear/trim into the new wheel, reconnect the cables and re-attached the wheel and pop the airbag assembly back in.

After connecting the cables to the airbag, be sure to stuff the white connector back into the recess at the top inside of the wheel.
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Last edited by pcbrew; 04-08-2013 at 07:10 PM. Reason: added note on stowing white connector / added picture
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      04-06-2013, 10:24 PM   #3
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Here are the post-install pictures.
First one is before airbag is put back in.

Now I have a proper wheel and no more red-stitching. I really did not mind the red but I know some do not like it when they have not opted for red accent trim.

The ///M trim piece was quoted at 98, so I opted not to get that. After doing the install, it's possible the cost is so high because it is sold as a unit with all the switch gear.
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      04-07-2013, 07:06 AM   #4
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Thanks for the writeup. I am looking to change my standard wheel to a sports one so this really helps. Are you selling your original wheel? I would be interested.
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      04-07-2013, 07:45 AM   #5
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Great write up, will definitely look into doing this!
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      04-07-2013, 11:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smurfs View Post
Thanks for the writeup. I am looking to change my standard wheel to a sports one so this really helps. Are you selling your original wheel? I would be interested.
My car is leased, so I was planning to keep it and swap back out when I return the car. But, if I can be convinced there is no issue doing lease return with the new wheel, I would be willing to discuss a sale.
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      04-07-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcbrew View Post
My car is leased, so I was planning to keep it and swap back out when I return the car. But, if I can be convinced there is no issue doing lease return with the new wheel, I would be willing to discuss a sale.
I have no idea how leases work but I assume they would not really check the wheel if it's close enough. This looks like a pretty close swap but I am not sure what the check list consists of. Let me know if you are interested. I think we are in the same DFW (me in Plano) neighborhood.


Thanks again for the write-up.
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      04-08-2013, 09:36 PM   #8
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I thought m sports was flat bottom?
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      04-08-2013, 09:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcbrew View Post
My car is leased, so I was planning to keep it and swap back out when I return the car. But, if I can be convinced there is no issue doing lease return with the new wheel, I would be willing to discuss a sale.

I highly doubt anyone will notice at lease end, It's not like its a fabric MOMO wheel.
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      04-08-2013, 10:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zibawal View Post
I thought m sports was flat bottom?
No, neither F20 1-Series or F30 3-Series M-Sport wheels are flat bottomed.

You may be thinking of this M-performance alcantara wheel with the red stripe.
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      04-08-2013, 10:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcbrew View Post
No, neither F20 1-Series or F30 3-Series M-Sport wheels are flat bottomed.

You may be thinking of this M-performance alcantara wheel with the red stripe.
Yes indeed! Lol
Oops;(
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      05-20-2013, 01:43 PM   #12
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I have paddle shifters, can I install the BMW M Performance wheel and keep my paddle shifters?
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      05-20-2013, 03:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demetrius Joel View Post
I have paddle shifters, can I install the BMW M Performance wheel and keep my paddle shifters?
There are 2 part numbers. I assume the Steptronic one has paddle shifters but you can call the dealer to cconfirm.

BTW, looks like Pacific BMW is selling then for $615 shipped right now.
http://www.mfestforum.com/forum/showthread.php?p=288059

BMW M Performance Steering Wheel / w/o Steptronic 32302230190
BMW M Performance Steering Wheel / w/ Steptronic 32302230197
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      05-29-2013, 03:05 AM   #14
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Wow this is why I love these forums, people taking a chance, writing detailed guides, photos and descriptions. Bravo!
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      05-29-2013, 03:50 AM   #15
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Well done great write up
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      06-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #16
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Wow good job! One thing I'll miss the most when I pick up my car next week is the m-sports steering wheel.....I'd love to give this a go but I'm way too chicken!

What are the exact tools you need to do this job? Got any pics of the airbag removal/install process? How long did it take all up?

*edit* just saw the thread you linked to which answer most my questions....the vids there make it look so easy!!

Thanks very much! Very jealous!
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      06-04-2013, 08:56 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funky_chilli View Post
Wow good job! One thing I'll miss the most when I pick up my car next week is the m-sports steering wheel.....I'd love to give this a go but I'm way too chicken!

What are the exact tools you need to do this job? Got any pics of the airbag removal/install process? How long did it take all up?
This post I linked to has a YouTube video showing how to remove the airbag.
http://www.f30post.com/forums/showth...9#post13774669

You need
  • flat head screwdriver to release the springs holding the airbag & release some electrical clips
  • socket wrench with a 6"-9" extension - I think it's a 16mm socket but not 100% sure
  • Torx #15 or #20 bit (can't remember) to remove the 2 screws from the back holding the trim piece
  • plus the socket you need to disconnect the battery

I think it took me an hour max. Most difficult was getting the airbag out. Mine had some elastic around it and it did not pop out as on the video. I really had to tug it out and it took a while before I was sure I had the clips released properly.
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      06-05-2013, 03:55 AM   #18
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Thanks for the info!

I'll see how I feel about the steering wheel first (I will be getting the car in a couple of weeks time).

If I really don't like it (I'm just suspecting at the moment as my last car was an m-sport) then I'll look into a replacement.

Thanks again for the detailed write-up as without it I wouldn't even consider doing it.
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      06-16-2013, 01:23 AM   #19
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Any idea if there is a replacement F20 M-sport steering wheel that retains the heating element?

Also, do you know if this would work on a base F30 (i.e. no line designation)?

Edited to add: thanks for posting this write-up! This is one of the main improvements one can make to their 3 series IMHO.
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      06-17-2013, 08:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antidentite View Post
Any idea if there is a replacement F20 M-sport steering wheel that retains the heating element?

Also, do you know if this would work on a base F30 (i.e. no line designation)?
I do not see a part number in RealOEM for F20 M-Sport wheel with heating element like I do under the standard F30 wheel options.

The airbag part numbers for the base (non-Sport) wheel are different than the Sport wheel but they may still be compatible.

Sport Airbag:
32306857902 (3/2013 builds and later)
32306864497

Base Airbag:
32306857901 (3/2013 builds and later)
32306864494

You may want to check with your dealer if the M-performance alcantara wheel with the red stripe is compatible with the base model airbag. If so, then it should fit the F20 M-Sport wheel as well.
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      06-17-2013, 06:35 PM   #21
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Thanks pcbrew. I'm leaning more towards the M Sport model since it already has the thick steering wheel, but I still haven't made up my mind yet.
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      07-17-2013, 08:48 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcbrew View Post
Source: hcsale.com (HC Automotive group) cost: 400 + 23 shipping and they take PayPal.

It took almost 3 months to arrive - supposedly backordered from BMW
Hi pcbrew. I'm thinking about ordering this steering wheel plus a few other bits from overseas. My local BMW dealer prices are nearly triple what HC SALE quotes on some of the parts.

Since you had quite an extended delay waiting for the steering wheel to arrive, would you still recommend ordering with HC SALE?

Also looking at PartSale.eu, anyone done business with them before?
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