No Alignment Wheel Change
The ESP cartridge on the 450 and Roadster can be annoying and tricky when you change the wheel.
I've done it, so others must have done it too, you want to upgrade your steering
wheel from a 2 spoke to a 3 spoke paddle steering wheel or from a 3 spoke paddle
wheel to the awesome Brabus V6 steering wheel. You find one on eBay, battle for it,
win it and take a chance only to find out that the ESP cartridge can't be aligned.
With no alignment you get a load of warning lights on and no safety systems.
Previously you would either have to concede defeat and go back to your old steering wheel or
attempt to swap the ESP cartridge over. This has a whole bunch of problems by itself. What if
you remove it, fit it to the new steering wheel to find out it has become faulty during the move?
Allowing the cartridge to move when it is unplugged from the car can cause irreversible damage.
I bought a Brabus V6 Raid steering wheel with an untested ESP cartridge, I was happy to take a chance for the low price I paid. When it arrived, the cartridge was smashed (during heavy handed delivery) and all the locating tabs were broken off. I got busy with the glue and hoped for the best.
I went down to Chequered Flag in Strood and let them fit and align the wheel but no
matter what they tried, it wouldn't align. I didn't give up as I really wanted that wheel
on my car but I didn't want to damage the only ESP cartridge that I had left.
After having a little brainwave, I went out and tested an idea. I'm glad to say it worked.
I now have a V6 wheel working with no alignment required and no disconnecting the ESP cartridge.
Here's How I Did It
Disconnect the battery, remove the speedo (450, Roadster) and all the surrounding plastic.
Disconnect the rear panelling of the wheel, it is only held in with the clips you see (each side).
The trim just pulls off backwards but it can take some scary force to get it off.
Not that it matters, it's all part of the wheel that you are removing.
Rotate it 90 degrees and use a Torx 30 screwdriver to remove the airbag bolt on each side.
If you aren't that bothered, you can cut this rear trim off to increase access to the bolts
The airbag will now pull out, unclip it and put it carefully to one side.
Look in the centre of the wheel, you will see 3 black clips (circled below). Loosen the Torx 40
steering wheel bolt from underneath the wheel. Pull the wheel towards you about 3-5mm,
press these clips in to disengage them. Push through the rectangle hole between the
clips to keep the ESP cartridge held back from moving with the wheel as you pull it.
Eventually you will have the wheel off but still have the ESP cartridge in place.
Still connected so still perfectly aligned.
Adding a little bit of tape will stop the ESP cartridge from accidentally coming off for now.
You can now slide the backing trim over the ESP cartridge to remove it.
Refitting really is the opposite of removal. Disassemble your steering wheel. Slide the rear
trim over the ESP cartridge that is already fitted to the car, offer the wheel up so all 3 plastic
tabs on the cartridge slide into the steering wheel. Push the steering wheel all the way
back and tighten the Torx 40 bolt underneath the wheel to secure it.
Remove the tape from the top of the cartridge. Plug in the airbag and push it onto the
wheel, replace the 2x rear Torx 30 bolts to secure it. Pop the back trim on the steering
wheel and reconnect the battery. Start the car and stare in awe and wonder at your new
steering wheel that requires no alignment and doesn't bring on any error lights.
If you have gone from a non paddle wheel to a paddle wheel then you will need to
go to smart or a smart specialist to have the correct code put on it to make it work.
It worked fine on mine and the previously non working V6 wheel was working perfectly
using my existing ESP cartridge. No lights, no errors, no alignment. Just smiles.