Steering wheel removal or swap on a mk4 Volkswagen Passat, Jetta, Golf

Apr 26, 2014
Steering wheel removal or swap on a mk4 Volkswagen Passat, Jetta, Golf
  • Steering wheel removal on a mk4 Volkswagen

    This article shows how to swap or remove and replace the steering wheel on a Volkswagen Passat. The basics of the procedure also apply to 1998-2005 Passat, and mark4 Jetta, Golf, and maybe the New Beetle.


    The late first generation Audi TT (8n generation) got DSG transmissions starting in 2004. Paddle shifters can be found on some wheels and you should be able to swap the paddle shifter steering wheel onto your mk4 VW, meaning it will turn the front wheels. However, I don't know either way if the buttons and paddle shifters will work on a VW due to rolling electrical changes and any possible Audi-VW differences.

    for mk5 cars, see 1000q: mk5 steering wheel removal, MFSW, or paddle shifter swap.

    Tools:12mm triple square bit (not torx!)small flat screwdriver
    torque wrench

    Steering wheel and airbag removal procedure
    1. WARNING - Airbags are explosive devices which could injure you if they accidentally discharge through improper handling. Even a static electricity spark could result in accidental discharge so follow all safety instructions in your factory service manual. Make sure the car ignition is off and disconnect the negative terminal on the car battery before doing any work. After disconnecting the battery, turn the ignition key to "ON" and step on the brake pedals a few times to discharge any stored electricity. Wear a static electricity grounding strap when handling an airbag, plug, or wires. If you don't have a grounding strap, touch a bare metal ground on the car before and while touching the airbag or wires to discharge any small static electricity. See the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer.

    2. Release the steering column adjuster and pull it towards you. Turn the wheel 90o to the left or right and look above and behind the steering wheel. There's a slot at the 12 o'clock position right above the column after you turn the wheel.

    3. Stick a flat screwdriver through the slot in the back of the steering wheel to release one of the metal loops holding the airbag. The loops are in the steering wheel (blue boxes) and hold the airbag by hooking onto the spears (highlighted in blue) on the airbag. Feel around for the top of the loop and then pry the loop down to get it around the spear tip. Gently pull the airbag towards you and you'll feel it gently release because the springs push it up a little. Turn the steering wheel to the other side and release the loop on the other side.

    Here's a closeup of the loops (yellow arrow). You have to pry them towards the steering column (down).

    Here's a video by eb2143 that should help explain it.

    4. Touch a bare metal ground to discharge any static charge and then unplug the airbag connector at the steering column end - it's a little easier to release. There's also 1 or 2 black wires that pull off.
    The airbag harness plugs into the clockspring mechanism. This is a wound wire harness that looks like a clockspring. This is how the steering wheel electrics maintain contact with the wiring and allow the wheel to rotate.

    5. Use a 12mm triple square (specific to many VW/Audi, not a torx), to remove the center bolt from the steering wheel (can be seen in the above picture). The bolt can be reused a maximum of 5 times only. Before removing the wheel, make sure it's centered. There should be an alignment notch on the steering wheel and column. (later steering wheel pictured but same thing).

    6. When replacing the wheel, tighten the steering wheel center bolt to 37 ft-lb. The rest of installation is the reverse of removal.