Installing JCW Steering Wheel in an R50/R53 Mini Cooper



The JCW Steering wheel offers a little more padding and a different feel from the standard wheel and even the Sport wheel as my car came with. Since the US dealerships inventory of these R50/R53 JCW wheels was depleted, I had to turn to a UK vendor, Mini Genuine Parts:


Since I had the side pieces with radio and cruise control switches, I was limited to replacing the center lower piece.




JCW Sports Steering Wheel - Alcantara - R50/R53JCW Carbon Fibre Steering Wheel Cover - Centre - R50/R53



To start, I disconnected the battery by removing the ground cable using a 10mm socket/ratchet. You may want to place a rag over the latch so the hatch will not lock, if it does you will have to use the manual release under the rear seat:



CAUTION: Working with airbags can be dangerous so proceed at your own risk, refer to the

BMW TIS Airbag/Steering Wheel Replacement instructions for more information and before proceeding.


Looking at the new steering wheel you can see how the airbag retention springs work; you will notice some small dimples on the side of the steering wheel you are removing where a small Torx driver can be inserted to release the spring. I used a T10 driver since it was small and I did not want to make the slits in the dimple any bigger than they needed to be. You will need to do one side at a time while pulling out on the airbag until both sides are released and the airbag is free. Pics of the wheel without airbag demonstrate how the spring is released, once you feel the spring at the end of the driver push down at the angle the driver is at and the spring will move to the side and release the airbag clip; video demonstrating this is HERE if the pics donít illustrate this well enough:



Once the airbag is released, the wiring connectors will need to be removed. This is done using a small flat blade screwdriver to pry up on the locking clip as shown for both connectors, and carefully pulling out to remove the plug:



Next to be removed are the three trim pieces. Each piece is press fit into the steering wheel with a single screw holding it in, a T20 Torx driver is used to remove these screws. The Torx driver has to be directly in line with the head of the screw and this can be misleading due to the angles of the steering wheel spokes:



When all three screws have been removed the pieces can be carefully pulled out of the steering wheel, it takes a little pulling since they are press fit:



The wiring harness plugs are removed from the multi-function switches, carefully pulling outward on the connector (not the wires). Note how the wiring is run around the top inside of the steering wheel hub in the pics above, this will need to be replicated with the new wheel installation:



If you have not already done so, it is a good idea to center and lock the steering wheel (we have that nice seam on the wheel to line up with the 4 on the tach), the wheels should also be straight when the steering wheel is centered:



The horn connector (circled) should be unplugged from the car; the new steering wheel will come with this wire in place (disregard the driver on the screw in the picture, I removed this wire from the wheel before noticing that the new wheel had this installed):



The steering wheel bolt is removed using a 16mm socket (I used a ĹĒ ratchet for leverage with a small extension):



Surprisingly and unlike every other steering wheel I have removed, this one just comes off- not press fit at all. Be careful to route the wires and connectors through the top hole as it is removed. [Disregard the horn wire removed from the wheel in the pic below, I did remove this before I noticed the new wheel already had it installed]:



Old Sport wheel vs new JCW wheel, the JCW covering is a little nicer and it feels a little thicker:



The plastic wheel behind the steering wheel will free-spin, the pin on this plastic wheel should be in line with the center bottom part of the steering wheel AND centered- this plastic piece will turn the same number of times the steering wheel turns so it is critical to make sure that it is not only centered in position but also centered in number of turns. I tried not to move mine so this was easy, BMW TIS suggests tape to prevent it from turning after the steering wheel is removed. If you are not sure or have any doubts as to how much this wheel has moved the BMW TIS suggests turning the plastic wheel clockwise to lock and counting the number of turns as it is turned counter-clockwise to lock, centered should be half this total number of turns. If you look at the back of the steering wheel you will see where this pin lines up with a hole in the bottom center of the wheel:



The lower center trim piece can be installed with the T20 Torx screw removed prior. Steering wheel wiring/connectors are fed through the hole on top and the steering wheel is lined up and placed on the splined steering wheel shaft while also carefully making sure the pin on the plastic wheel is going into the steering wheel hole it mates with. The steering wheel bolt can be hand threaded and hand tightened at this point:



The horn connector is plugged in:



The multi-function wiring harness is tucked around the top inside of the steering wheel hub and plugged into each switch piece. The side pieces can then be press fit into the steering wheel and secured with the T20 Torx screws that were removed from the original steering wheel:



The BMW TIS states that the torque spec for the steering wheel bolt is 63 Nm which equates to 46.46 lb/ft. A torque wrench is used to torque the steering wheel to steering shaft bolt to spec:




After checking all wiring, the airbag is ready to be plugged in and snapped in. The two wiring harness plugs for the airbag are color coded and easily matched with the correct receiver- be sure to snap the locking clips down after plugging them in. The airbag is lined up on the wheel and pushed into place, you should feel and hear the side pieces click into place in the spring retainers. The battery can be reconnected and the steering wheel functionality can be tested.

Thatís it- You have completed the steering wheel swap- Enjoy driving with your new JCW wheel: