One of the first things you notice when you look at the interior of any car is the steering wheel. Years of handling tends to make them ratty and, frankly, disgusting. A fresh steering wheel almost feels like fitting a good pair of new shoes.
This particular car had a non-tilt column with vinyl covered steering wheel. Those plastic wheels exude sticky resins and keep your hands fouled with goop all the time. Yuck!
Corvette Central offers a wide variety of steering wheels that are easy to install and will complement your interior. Let’s start our new steering wheel installation!
We are using a plastic weatherstrip tool to pop off the horn button. Screwdrivers can scar paint and this paint was fresh. You may want to disconnect the horns or pull the horn fuse until you finish installation to avoid aggravating neighbors. (Yes, we know the horn button is for an earlier year Corvette but we happen to like the look of a rounded horn button.)
Once the button is off, remove the horn contact assembly. Keep shims with contact assembly. You should be able to use the same amount of shims with a replacement steering wheel. When internal column components are replaced, the stack-up can be different, requiring more or less shims. There should be enough clearance to rotate the telescope lock ring without rubbing on the horn contact assembly or spacer ring.
Outer screws hold the inner tele lock screw to the lock ring. These screws can be stripped easily; ensure both are started, then tighten them evenly. The tele lock ring has multiple holes for correct positioning on the tele lock screw. We usually hand tighten the tele lock screw in the center and then center the lock ring tab. This allows you to tighten the tele function securely and releases easily.
Once the wheel and cover are removed, the horn contact is visible. This contact on the upper left has a plastic lock that locks into the turn signal cancel cam. Be careful! If the cancel cam is damaged, a puller must be used to access the cancel cam. The contact lock rotates clockwise to secure in place.
Remember to line up the cover correctly. It has a depression to allow the vertical steering wheel spoke to sit flat on the hub and cover. Freshen up the paint and clean the cover, attaching pieces before installing the steering wheel and components.
10-24 screws hold the steering wheel to the hub. If the screws are in rough shape 10-24 x ¾ long stainless steel screws work well as replacements. Original screws are flat on top. We found replacements with a slight bevel that worked fine. Tighten the screws evenly and you are ready to install the horn and tele pieces.
Story and photos courtesy Chris Petris