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Steering Wheels & Adapters

How to Replace Your Steering Wheel

Replacing Your Steering Wheel

So it’s time to change your steering wheel because for whatever reason it no longer vibes with your aesthetic: yellowed color from sun-bleaching, sticky from too many spilled beers, peeling finish, blah blah blah...doesn’t matter. It’s time to switch things up and we’re here to show you how to do it.

1.   First things first, remove the center cap from the wheel. Note that some caps are push-in while others may be bolted in place.

2.   Now that you’ve removed the cap and exposed the retaining nut, go ahead and remove this retaining nut and washer. You’ll probably need a ¾” socket and ratchet, but not necessarily.

3.  With the retaining nut and washer removed, remove the steering wheel from the shaft. Obviously this sounds easier than it is so feel free to use a puller to get it loose. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to use a little force to get things going.

4.   At last, after all that work you should finally have your bare tapered shaft and woodruff key. In most cases, this will be a ¾” tapered shaft, but this isn’t always the case so it’s important to measure your shaft to make sure. You know the saying: measure twice, cut once.

5.   Now there’s nothing left but to slide the new wheel and adapter into place. Below, we’ve gone ahead and shown the two most common adapter styles. On the left, a tapered adapter which we’ll be using in this application, and on the right a splined adapter.

While splined adapters aren’t as common as their tapered counterparts, they are used in some applications; and unfortunately, if this is the adapter style you have, you’re probably going to have to purchase a new adapter as most modern steering wheels will not work with a splined adapter.

Worse yet, if your boat is from the 70s or early 80s, you may find yourself stuck with a square shaft. If that’s the case, be prepared to purchase and install an entirely new steering system.

6.   But back to business, go ahead and align the adapter with the woodruff key. In the instance you have a tapered adapter and shaft, you must use a woodruff key to keep the wheel locked in position with the steering shaft. Otherwise, you're gonna be stuck working with an uncooperative steering system.

7.   Reinstall the washer and lock nut onto the shaft and tighten securely. When installed correctly, the wheel should not wobble or jiggle.

8.   Finally, replace the steering cap. Congratulations; you’ve just upgraded your steering wheel on your own. Firm handshakes all around and a cold one on us.

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