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BEGINNERS' CORNER

How to Remove a Steering Wheel

It's not really difficult to remove a steering wheel, provided you are patient and have a multi-purpose puller. Such tools are very useful, inexpensive and easily obtainable from catalogs and stores. They will pay for themselves many times over during the course of a car restoration project.

Steering wheel puller tool.
Steering wheel puller tool.

Most steering wheels from the 40s-up have horn rings, buttons or other fascia that must be removed to get to the hardware that attaches the wheel to the steering shaft. In addition, cars that were equipped with turn signals might require partial disassembly of the actuators and/or horn wiring for wheel removal. Neither presents a problem, so long as you take your time and lay things out as they are removed.

Left: Our starting point. Right: turning the hornring counterclockwise.
Left: Our starting point. Right: turning the hornring counterclockwise.

Let's get to work on this Ford wheel. (We've already disconnected the ground lead from the battery!)

Note that the chrome horn ring is a three-spoke design that radiates out from a central hub.

We slowly lift the horn ring off. We don't want things to go flying.
We slowly lift the horn ring off. We don't want things to go flying.

As with most horn rings from cars of the 60s, it is removed by pushing down on the center and turning the assembly counterclockwise. Doing so releases little catches on the inside and allows the ring to be removed. The ring is spring-loaded, however, so it is important to lift it off slowly and note all the parts that might want to fall out.

Removing the horn button.
Removing the horn button.

With the horn ring off we can see the steering shaft and the nut holding the wheel assembly. Before going any further we must turn the wheel to the center, straight-ahead position so that it will be correctly centered when we reinstall it. Now we can remove the nut with either a suitable wrench or socket.

Next, we loosen the nut.
Next, we loosen the nut.

The wheel will not easily pull off once the nut is removed because it is pressed down on the splined steering shaft or held by a woodruff key, in the case of non-splined shafts. That's where the puller comes in. Look for threaded holes in the wheel hub assembly. These holes are designed to be used by the puller for removal.

Attach the steering wheel puller using the appropriate bolts.
Attach the steering wheel puller using the appropriate bolts.
As you slowly tighten the center bolt, it presses on the steering shaft, causing the puller body to lift, pulling the steering wheel with it.
As you slowly tighten the center bolt, it presses on the steering shaft, causing the puller body to lift, pulling the steering wheel with it.

Find the appropriate bolts in the puller kit and set up the puller on the wheel. This is typically a matter of using two bolts placed through the puller body and into the wheel, then screwing in the central bolt.

Next, slowly screw in the central bolt using the appropriate "foot" adapter for the steering shaft. As the bolt pushes down on the shaft the wheel will come off. Once removed from the shaft the wheel and puller will come off in your hands.

Steering wheel is removed.
Steering wheel is removed.

Once the wheel is removed and work has been performed, replacement is simply done by pushing the wheel onto the shaft by hand and tightening the nut down to secure it.




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