Removing the steering wheel in your Ford Expedition presents some potential problems due to the supplemental restraint system built into the horn pad and steering column. Special procedures are required to safely remove the steering wheel without vehicle damage and personal injury caused by inadvertently deploying the driver's side air bag. By following these procedures and using the proper tools, the average home mechanic will safely remove the steering wheel in less than an hour. Tools for this project are reasonably priced, and available for purchase or loan from most large auto parts chain stores.
Things You'll Need
- Wrench set
- Screwdriver set
- Socket set
- Felt-tip permanent marker
- Two-jaw puller set
Start the engine and turn the wheels in the straight-ahead position. Turn off the engine and lock the steering wheel. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery, using a 10-mm wrench. Wait 15 minutes for any residual charge stored in the supplemental restraint system to discharge before continuing the procedure.
Lower the tilt wheel to gain access to the rear of the steering wheel. Pry out the two rubber plugs that cover the air bag retaining screws found on the back of the steering wheel trim. Remove the 8-mm air bag screws found behind the plugs, using a socket and ratchet.
Tilt the air bag towards the driver seat and unplug the air bag connector and horn connector from the back of the air bag. Lay the air bag unit face-up on the passenger floor.
Remove the steering wheel bolt, found under the air bag unit, in the center of the steering wheel hub, using a Torx-head socket and ratchet. Make an alignment mark on the steering shaft and steering wheel using a felt-tip permanent marker, so that the steering wheel can be reinstalled in the same position.
Slip the arms of the two-jaw puller over the top and bottom edges of the steering wheel hub. Tighten the center bolt of the puller down onto the steering shaft, using a 15-mm wrench, until the steering wheel pops off the steering shaft. Unclip the puller from the steering wheel.
Apply two strips of tape over the clock spring found behind the steering wheel to prevent it from moving while making repairs; the electrical connector of the air bag clock spring must be in the three o-clock position, and the dimple on the steering shaft must be in the nine o-clock position, before reinstalling the steering wheel.
Align the marks you made with the felt-tip marker on the steering shaft and wheel, and push the steering wheel firmly onto the shaft. Reinstall the steering wheel retaining bolt, using a torque wrench set for 23 to 32 foot-pounds. Reinstall the air bag, and torque the screws to between 89 and 115 inch-pounds using a torque wrench.
- Ford Expedition Forum: Steering Wheel Removal
- Chilton Automotive Books: 1997- 2002 Ford F-150/Expedition/Navigator Reair Manual, Jay Storer, 2005
- Photo Credit Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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