BMW E39: Facelift Steering Wheel Upgrade

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For 2001, BMW gave the E39 M5 the E46 M3 steering wheel. Before this, it had used the E36 M3’s wheel. The newer wheel looks a lot more modern and feels much more sporty due to it’s thicker girth, and more pronounced side bolsters. The E46 wheel also allows you to finally see both the top of the gauges and the cluster LCD display at the same time! Depending on when your E39 was made, this update process can be super easy, or damn near impossible. Let’s get to it.


Preface: This install is really only viable if your car has a two-stage airbag. BMW changed their technology for airbags around the March or April production months of 1999. If your car was made after then, like all DE93 (North American) E39 M5s, then you’re safe. My particular car is a February, 2000. So, I have a dual-stage airbag, which means that the updated ’round’ airbag that the new wheel will use will plug right in and not illuminate the airbag light on the instrument cluster. If your car has a single-stage airbag, you can still update the steering wheel, but you have a lot more work to do.


Objective: Install the facelift (production 09/00 and later) steering wheel in a pre-facelift E39.


Applicable Vehicles: BMW E39 M5 (2000), other E39, E46 and E38 models will be very similar, if not identical.


DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.


Parts Required: If you purchase the steering wheel by clicking the BMW part number below (links to ECS Tuning) then you do not need the other parts that go on this wheel, aside form the airbag. You also won’t likely need these parts if you buy one from Ebay or elsewhere… just be sure that you have the following parts included with the wheel itself:

  1. M3 / M5 Facelift Steering Wheel: 32342282020

  2. 2001-2006ish BMW airbag (not M specific, just round airbag): 32306757891

  3. *Multi-function button panel: 61316949754

  4. *M trim lower half: 32347833355

  5. *Multi-function control wiring harness: 61318386947

  6. *Airbag wiring harness: 32301097246


The ECS Tuning wheel comes with the four parts above with * next to them. My airbag came from Ebay. I spent hours searching ebay for the round-style BMW airbags, trying to find one in perfection condition with no tears, a clean badge, etc.


Airbag Recall: The Takata airbag recall is applicable to many of these round-style airbags produced from 2001. BMW dealerships will replace round airbags that are affected by the recall- but only if they are original equipment to your car. If you have added this newer wheel/airbag to your car, they are not obligated to replace your airbag under the recall. I recommend buying a new airbag from BMW to ensure that you have a safe/warrantied component. I recommend checking the status of your vehicle’s VIN here to see if there are any open recalls on it. If not, you can try contacting BMW North America, but I have had no luck with that avenue. If you are affected by the recall, contact your local BMW center, and schedule an appointment to have the airbag(s) checked and replaced. See the video embedded below for more information.


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BMW E39 M5 steering wheel parts explosion.


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Facelift M5 steering wheel and a new airbag installed in my 02/2000 M5.


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Facelift M5 steering wheel and a new airbag installed in my 02/2000 M5.


Tools Required:

  1. 16mm deep well socket

  2. 3″ or 6″ Socket extension

  3. 10mm socket

  4. Ratchet

  5. Breaker bar

  6. Torque wrench

  7. T30 torx bit and ratchet


Cost: ~$1,000

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 20 minutes



  1. From your driver’s seat, with your battery still connected, and start your car. Turn your steering wheel about 90 degrees either way off center. Using your T30 torx bit in a ratchet, slightly loosen the bolt that holds the airbag in. This bolt is on the back side of the steering wheel / airbag. *You may find it easier if you adjust your wheel so it is closest to the front seat.

  2. Now turn your wheel so it’s 90 degrees off center the other way. Loosen that bolt about half way.

  3. Go back to the first position, and fully loosen the bolt (note that it is held captive and will stay in the wheel).

  4. Go back to the second position, and fully loosen that bolt as well.

  5. Straighten your wheel back to center, turn off your engine, and DISCONNECT YOUR BATTERY. Use your 10mm socket to remove the negative battery cable, and secure it away from the battery terminal so it will not make contact inadvertently. We disconnect the battery so that when we unplug the airbag, the airbag light does not come on the dashboard.

  6. Pull the airbag out towards you, and remove the black and yellow connector from the inside of the steering wheel. You can also unplug the white connector, this is for your multi-function steering wheel controls.

  7. Get your 16mm socket (deep well preferably, or use an extension to your breaker bar) and break the bolt free in the center of the steering wheel. Remove this bolt, and pull off your old wheel.

  8. Take your new wheel, and note the small indicator notch on the splines. This lines up with another indicator on the steering column splines. Make sure these are perfectly lined up so your car goes straight when you have your wheel straight!

  9. Torque down the same 16mm bolt to 59ft/lbs.

  10. Plug in your airbag cable (yellow and black on car side, going to green and black connectors for the airbag).

  11. ake your new airbag, plug it in, line it up, and press it firmly and evenly into place inside of the new wheel.

  12. Plug in your battery, and tighten down the 10mm bolt holding the cable on the battery post.


You’re all set! Start your car to make sure you don’t have a light, and enjoy your new face-lifted E39 M5 or E46 M3 steering wheel!


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Original 2000 wheel (left) and 2001+ wheel (right).


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Steering wheel removed


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Original 2000 wheel.


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2001+ wheel.


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New style round airbag.


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New round airbag, rear.


E39Source Steering Wheel Facelift DIY on 02/2000 M5