NC upgrading the steering wheel from no buttons rubber to multi-function leather

Hi all,


  1. The buttons won’t work
  2. you have to solder the horn cable
  3. It won’t be straight

I just wanted to share my experience in upgrading my NC steering wheel from the basic rubber wheel without buttons to the multifunction leather steering wheel. The primary reason for me to upgrade was that I wanted to wrap the steering wheel in Alcantara, which is not recommended on the basic rubber wheel as you can’t tuck the Alcantara neatly under the plastic covers. So I purchased a used multifunction leather steering wheel for about GBP 30 on eBay. I did some research if it was possible to change from the non-button steering wheel to the multifunction steering wheel, but as I could not find any information on it, I just bit the bullet.

First thing you’ll notice is that the cable for the horn is directly wired to the plug that goes into the steering column on cars that come without the multifunction steering wheel. This is the same plug that the multifunction steering wheel uses to connect the buttons, so the multifunction steering wheel instead has another plug that is used to connect the horn. As both plugs are different, you’ll have to cut both horn cables and solder the horn to the cable on the multifunction steering wheel plug. Note that if you do that, your steering wheel and airbag/horn assembly are now wired together and can’t be moved individually.

Mounting the new steering wheel is actually very easy, but it revealed already the next problem: The interlocking teeth on the steering wheel aren’t at the exact same angular position on different steering wheels. I’d guess it’s about 1-2 degree off. This means the new steering wheel won’t be straight and I’ll have to head to an alignment shop to get it straightened.

Lastly, after connecting the airbag and then reconnecting the battery, I turned the car on, switched the radio on, and realized that the multifunction buttons don’t work, which is slightly surprising, as all the pins on the steering column side seemed to be there and the old plug even had a jumper wire, so I assumed the wiring harness of the car had the wires for the steering wheel buttons installed. Or does anyone know if there is a software feature on the radio unit that would make the buttons work?

So, hopefully this will help others in the future that will be searching for the information that I couldn’t find.


nice work and nice thread.
I’m sure people will find it very handy.

also, I’m taking a guess here but I think you might need to change your stereo unit to one from a car that had wheel controls

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Just to say I had the basic wheel with no control buttons. Swapped it with leather wheel with control buttons together with its compatible airbag (did not use the one I had with the basic wheel). It was plug and play with no issues. Remember to take extreme care in removing and replacing airbag.

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Wait, your buttons do work? Did you need to change anything to make them work? What year is your car from? Mine is a late 2007, just asking because they might have changed the wiring over time. Also, does anyone know if the wiring might be different between Mk3, 3.5, 3.75? There was no indication from which exact car the steering wheel was because they all look identical, but as 3.5 and 3.75 have different radio units from the Mk3, they might actually have different wiring.

Regarding the airbag handling I consulted the official service manual and closely followed the instructions, disconnecting the battery and always placing it with the explosive side up and away from my body.