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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is my first post and it's going to be a bit long. I did a search and didnt find this exact topic covered in the threads, so forgive me if I'm repeating something that's already here. But I just bought one of the new steering wheels with audio buttons as well as cruise to replace my existing one which had only cruise. (My review of the wheel is at the end of this post, btw.) I went this route because I didn't like the plastic wheel anyway. So after a lot of scratching of head and gnashing of teeth with a few swear words thrown in, I wanted to give details on what has to be done if you want to do this. It's late so I'm just going to write it all down first and re-do with pictures tomorrow.

EDIT: I really didn't want to take it apart again, but I did find a cobalt thread with great pictures. And it will give you an appreciation for how much easier it is to do this on our cars! Here's the link:Electrical How To: Factory Cruise Control and Remote Radio Control Installation (2007- 2010) - Cobalt SS Network

I didn't disconnect the battery or pull any fuses. I just tried to be careful with the airbag. But if you want to try disconnecting its power that may be a good idea. I honestly didn't know how and figured there was backup power to the airbag anyway so what was the point? But what the hell do I know? You'll have to research and decide for yourself.* Oh yeah, all the usual caveats and "don't blame me if you blow up your car, etc. etc. apply.
* According to the Pontiac Solstice 2008 Owner's manual, page 1-48: "For up to 10 seconds after the ignition is turned off and the battery is disconnected, an airbag can still inflate during improper service. You can be injured if you are close to an airbag when it inflates. Avoid yellow connectors. They are probably part of the airbag system. Be sure to follow proper service procedures, and make sure the person performing work for you is qualified to do so." I don't have a Service manual to look into but there seems to be different wording there as Glake89 pointed out that refers to a 1 Minute wait time (see below). I don't think the thing will blow up in my face from doing what I did, perhaps it could if I were messing with the sensors and such but I wasn't. Again, I'm no expert, do it how you feel is best for you.

What you need before you start:
You'll need a long punch or allen wrench that fits into the holes on either side of the wheel. You'll also need a socket, 13/16ths will do nicely. And a nice long skinny flat head screwdriver to undo the wire harness clip.

Do yourself a favor and read the WHOLE thing before you start! Also it helps if the wheel is pointing straight ahead before you start. Here we go:

Removal/replacement instructions:
1. Remove the airbag assembly from the steering wheel. Use a long punch or allen wrench in the hole on either side, you only have to go about 3/4 of an inch in and aim toward the bottom center of the wheel. (photo courtesy CobaltSS forum btw) I had the replacement wheel to practice on without the airbag in place so I could see the straight spring wire that held the airbag on easily. You can do one side at a time and just put some folded cardboard between the edge of the bag and the wheel so it won't go back in before you get the other side done. Pull the airbag out, and you can see into the guts of the wheel.

Now it's very tempting but don't start undoing the nut in the hub yet! If you do you risk pulling apart the whole clock spring device. Just ask me how I know! ;)


2. Disconnect the wires from the airbag. This is the part I couldn't find documented in any detail. I damn near gave up because I was trying to remove the connection near the hub. Don't try that it doesn't come out and you might break the thing. The way to do it is to use needle nosed pliers to press the side clips of the two connectors on the bag itself. Then just pull out straight with the pliers. The two connectors on mine were pink and white, pink on the port side white on the starboard. But you don't need to remember that because the sockets they go into are the same color as the corresponding plug. See photo...

Put that airbag aside for a bit so it isn't in the way.

3. Disconnect the wire harness from the clockspring at the top (if you left your wheel pointing forward!) Use the screwdriver to separate the clip from the connector. The clip secures the connector at the top center and is kind of misleading because it looks like there's a visible gap where your screwdriver is supposed to go, but it actually has to go under that gap to pull up the clip and then you can pull back on the connector. Is it free? Good! If not keep trying, it has to come undone before you undo that nut!

4. Okay now you can get the socket on there and undo the nut! It's really not very tight. But the wheel may be well set in its ways... I grabbed mine on either side and rocked it as I pulled and it came out pretty easy. Otherwise I hear there's a special tool you could buy, borrow or make.

Reinstallation is the same procedure backward. Goes back in a lot faster than it came out! Don't forget to reconnect the airbag wires and line the pointy posts up with the holes where the spring holds them in place. Doing it the right way won't take even a half an hour! But...

Ooops...
But what if you pulled out the clockspring (like I did)? I don't want to know what the neighbors were thinking, but I wasn't happy about that and I could be quite... vocal. So I looked at it carefully and saw how it seemed there were only about one and a half or two turns of the ribbon wire around the little spool in the clockspring cover and carefully wound the two ribbons together around that spool and pressed the cover back on to the body of the clockspring that was still on the hub. There's a yellow knob looking thing that started off at the bottom (six oclock position) when I first saw it so I tried to keep it in that position when I put the cover back on. So far it seems to be OK. So it's not necessarily the end of the world if you pull it apart, but it will take a few minutes to put it back together and it's better if you didn't pull it apart in the first place!

Review
So how does the wheel work? Exactly as it should, the radio controls all do their thing as if it came from the factory that way. I knew this would be the case from reading others' posts here so no surprise. But I did not know that the wheel came pre-wired with the right harness already, and I had ordered one from my dealer for $21. So now I have an extra harness for anyone who may need it to just add the radio buttons to their existing wheel :). Also, I bought the wheel with the orange stitching to match the shift knob and boot that I also bought. It all came from SourceOne via ebay and they couldn't have been nicer people to deal with. But it was my mistake to think this one was leather (it's vinyl and so is the shift boot sadly). They do have one that specifies leather in the title, so if that's what you want make sure you order the right item. Or better yet call them to be sure it will match your interior as it says Sky and Opel in the title, not Solstice. Still it's a very nice wheel and it's staying in there. Feels and looks a lot better than the original plastic molded wheel!

EDIT: I just found out that the Corvette uses the same wheel, so that may expand your possibilities!

Next I'd like to upgrade the radio to a bluetooth unit. But that will be another post.

Hope that all helped!
 

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Forgot 2 very important steps.
1. Disconnect the battery before doing anything! Accidental deployment of the airbag would really suck!
2. When pulling the wheel off, leave the nut on a few twists from completely off. That way you don't bust yourself in the kisser if the wheel pops off while pulling it out.
 

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2. When pulling the wheel off, leave the nut on a few twists from completely off. That way you don't bust yourself in the kisser if the wheel pops off while pulling it out.
:yesnod: Did that years ago with an old car that I had. Nearly knocked me out. It's hilarious to remember it now but it sure wasn't funny then.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Number 2 is a good point. Number 1 I didnt so much forget as chose to ignore. I dont think pulling the battery cable does more than give you a false sense of security. There has to be more to disabling the airbags than that.
 

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Number 2 is a good point. Number 1 I didnt so much forget as chose to ignore. I dont think pulling the battery cable does more than give you a false sense of security. There has to be more to disabling the airbags than that.
Can't deploy with no power....................

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Number 2 is a good point. Number 1 I didnt so much forget as chose to ignore. I dont think pulling the battery cable does more than give you a false sense of security. There has to be more to disabling the airbags than that.
I believe there is a capacitor that will fire the airbag in the event of power loss. I think if you wait about five minutes after disconnecting the battery it will self discharge.
this is not Sol specific, so details may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I believe there is a capacitor that will fire the airbag in the event of power loss. I think if you wait about five minutes after disconnecting the battery it will self discharge.
this is not Sol specific, so details may vary.
Yeah that's just the trouble isn't it? Every reference I've found has the same "I think" and "I believe" and "this may not apply" all over.

And yelloboy, I guarantee you the airbag will not deploy if it's sitting away from the car not connected to anything! :)

No offense, I know everyone means well, but does anyone actually know the exact procedure for preventing the airbag from deploying accidentally as it's being pulled out? If so, I'd love to put that in my post above.
 

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From the service manual-

The inflatable restraint sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) maintains a reserved energy supply. The reserved energy supply provides deployment power for the air bags if the SDM loses battery power during a collision. Deployment power is available for as much as 1 minute after disconnecting the vehicle power. Waiting 1 minute before working on the system after disabling the SIR system prevents deployment of the air bags from the reserved energy supply.
Good enough?
 

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Thanks for the info. I'm planning on sending my steering wheel away this winter to have covered in leather and wood. I've been wondering about how difficult it was to remove.
 
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