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Tyspeed takes the (steering) wheel of my G80 M3

I head to TySpeed to install a new M Performance G80 M3 steering wheel. See options available for aftermarket wheels, along with the install.

m-performance-wheel-install

There’s certainly nothing wrong with the parts that BMW gives you on the inside of any M car, and in fact the G80 M3 steering wheel might be the nicest of all with its carbon fiber trim and tri-color stitching. It’s not something you can get on an M5 or an M8, ironically. Still, other cars have even more racy choices, and we can improve the M3’s look and feel.

I’ll lay out the options and cost, explain why I picked what I did, and walk you through the install process.

The stock G80 M3 steering wheel is boring

G80 M3 steering wheel
The stock wheel is fine, but we can make it match the rest of the interior.

Oh, it’s fine. But every M, M Performance, and regular BMW with the M Package gets it. Even the XM has one, a sin we can talk about another day. The shape itself is also a bit thick – I thought the wheels in the F generation were more sporty. We can solve this a few ways:

The M3 CS wheel

bmw-m3-cs-wheel
Nice, but expensive. Photo: BMW

The first option is from the CS – all Alcantara with a red center stripe. Alcantara isn’t any more expensive than leather to produce, so the “CS Tax” is the only explanation for BMW charging over $2,000 for this wheel. The shape remains the same as stock, so no flat bottom or thinner rim. It’s also missing some Alcantara on the top half that you’d get with the M Performance wheel.

If it were significantly different, perhaps, but it isn’t. I don’t need Sunday morning cred that badly. Next.

The Pep Boys special

m3-carbon-wheel
Not my jam.

A growing trend is using bare carbon fiber on the wheel, like the Corvette Z06. I think it’s slippery, and combined with the stock carbon trim can look a bit “I’mma race car bro”.

There’s also a digital display on the top of the wheel, which we absolutely do not need on a car with multiple screens. BMW even included shift lights on the dash as you approach red line, making it superfluous (plus it looks like Super Nintendo graphics). No Alcantara on here either, so it wouldn’t match my shifter. For around $1,100, it’s a pass.

The M Performance wheel (s)

BMW M Performance Wheel
The BMW M Performance Wheel

That leaves the M Performance option. It’s a nicer shape, slightly flat on the bottom, with a thinner rim and light blue center stripe. They make multiple variations for different cars, some with red stripe, some with blue, some white, so check to see what fits (even if BMW says it won’t, it might because it’s just a shell with no electronics.) Some like the half leather / half Alcantara look (I do). It also has an Alcantara upper half unlike the CS option, and my manual requires two additional covers where the Competition’s paddle shifters would normally go.

The problem is once again price – $1,600. But we can do better when ordered direct from Germany using Baum. Make sure to use the translation feature in your browser, as it’s entirely in German.

The M3 airbag cover

M3 airbag cover
The airbag cover has M stitching and comes in black or grey.

The final piece of this is the airbag cover. It’s again fine, but I found a cover from OEM Plus Mods (they make a lot of Supra stuff) that matches the wheel itself. This helps to complete the overall look, and changing the wheel is the perfect time to make the swap.

Installing the M Performance G80 M3 steering wheel

TySpeed
We’re back at TySpeed.
TySpeed
I had to snap this because wow.

Now would be a good time to tell you that my M mode buttons stopped working about a month before I installed this wheel. When I took it to a dealer, they said my wheel was damaged because someone touched it (no one did). When TySpeed later removed the wheel, they found that the dealer actually cut off one of the wire clips, so the M buttons were unplugged. I believe the horn was installed from the factory incorrectly (it was always sticky), and pinched the wire, then the dealer made it worse.

BMW wire
There should be two clips here, but the dealer cut one end off.

I won’t tell you which dealer did it, but know that they will do anything to avoid a warranty repair. “You changed a lot on the car” was used as an excuse. Please. The harness was not expensive, and since the wheel would be off, I took it to my favorite M bros to fix.

Sidebar: I made an appointment a week in advance, and although they gave me a loaner, it was absolutely disgusting (empty water bottles, filthy glass inside, etc.) I wasn’t lying when I said the service has gone south.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff.

We’ll be working with Max at TySpeed today, and the install takes about two hours (mine took a bit longer to find out the M button issue).

1-Take off the original wheel

BMW M3 steering wheel install
Start by disconnecting the battery, or you might get an airbag in the face.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The original wheel goes bye bye.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Max uses a flat head screw driver to find 2 clips that will unlatch the airbag. There’s one on each side.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The airbag is then unplugged and pulled out.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Max then goes through with a pic tool and unclips the various wires for the wheel.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
We reuse the carbon fiber trim on the new wheel, and it’s available separately if your car did not come with it.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The bare wheel.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The retaining bolt takes some force to get out. A second pair of hands might be needed.

2 – Switching everything over

BMW M3 steering wheel install
I did not opt for steering wheel heat, but if you did, you’ll lose the function with this wheel.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
We have to install the wiring harness on the new wheel.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
This metal frame also gets taken out. Make sure it’s flush on reinstall, or the airbag won’t fit properly.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Max does one part at a time to ensure nothing is missed.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
BMW M3 steering wheel install
M buttons go back in.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The amount of electronics in just the wheel alone is staggering.

3 -Installing the G80 M3 steering wheel airbag cover

BMW M3 steering wheel install
While this isn’t difficult to install, there’s a lot of patience involved.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The airbag must be pried out of the original casing. First, remove the backing with horn springs.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
These clips on the back can get caught as you remove it.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
I hope I never see it again.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The new cover isn’t a BMW part, but it seems to be nearly identical in quality. The original has covers over the backing clips for the BMW logo, while this one did not.
BMW M3 steering wheel install

4 – G80 M3 steering wheel final install

BMW M3 steering wheel install
These Alcantara covers are sold separately from the wheel, but are only needed for manual cars. These will work with the CS wheel as well.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The wheel can only go on straight, no need for an alignment.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Tighten the locking nut.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Reinstall the airbag.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
Check the horn.
BMW M3 steering wheel install
The airbag might not clip into place if you don’t secure the backing plate all the way.

BMW M Performance Steering wheel result

BMW M3 steering wheel install BMW M3 steering wheel install BMW M3 steering wheel install BMW M3 steering wheel install

A few tips and details

BMW driving gloves
Originally intended to prevent splinters from wooden steering wheels, they help keep it clean now.

I’ve had people make fun of me, but if you’re looking to keep the wheel (and shifter) in decent shape, I suggest a pair of driving gloves. I like BMW’s gloves, which fit me well, but there are a ton of options. This will prevent the grossness of skin and oils from giving the wheel that oh-so-wonderful gloss sheen over time.

You can also keep a bottle of interior cleaner handy for a once-a-week wipe. I prefer AMMO Lather, but almost anything will do that isn’t alcohol-based (that could dry out the leather).

BMW driving gloves
Have to complete the look, right? That little Nokia phone charm has been with me since my E92 days, so it stays.

Finally, the only remaining item that you could get from BMW if you have a Competition model are Alcantara knee pads. Manual models like mine have a smaller center tunnel, and they do not make that part. They also make carbon fiber kick plates for the doors, but this seems a bit superfluous since they already say M3, and that’s cooler than M Performance.

The center arm rest, seat backs, door lock pins, carpets, shifter, and now steering wheel are complete. I feel good when I’m inside the M3, and as they say, feel good – look good.

Thanks to Max, Dan and the crew at TySpeed as always for letting stick a lens in their faces!

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