How to Install a Quick Release Steering Wheel in a Track-Day BMW E36 for Safety?

April 5, 2024

In the realm of motorsports, safety always comes first. One of the essential safety features that you can install in your track-day BMW E36 is a quick release steering wheel. This device enables a swift and straightforward removal of the steering wheel, providing an added safety layer if an accident occurs, facilitating a quicker exit from the vehicle. This article will guide you through the detailed process of installing a quick release steering wheel in a BMW E36, ensuring you can undertake this task with confidence and precision.

The Importance of a Quick Release Steering Wheel

Before delving into the process of installing a quick release steering wheel, it’s important to understand why this feature is so crucial for motorsport enthusiasts. A quick release steering wheel allows the driver to remove the wheel quickly and easily, providing an unobstructed escape route in the event of an emergency.

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In tight cockpit spaces, like in a BMW E36, the steering wheel can become a significant obstruction during an emergency exit. By installing a quick release system, you can eliminate this issue, dramatically increasing safety levels. In addition to enhancing safety, a quick release steering wheel also adds a layer of anti-theft protection to your vehicle, as the car cannot be driven without the steering wheel.

Selecting the Right Quick Release System

Should you decide to install a quick release system in your track-day BMW E36, it’s crucial to select the right system that suits your needs. Two main types of quick release systems are available on the market: the bolt-on type and the weld-on type.

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The bolt-on type is user-friendly and straightforward to install. This system uses a hub adapter that bolts directly onto the steering column, allowing you to attach the quick release mechanism and the steering wheel. The weld-on type, on the other hand, involves welding the quick release hub directly onto the steering column. This system requires a higher skill level and professional tools for installation.

Regardless of the type, make sure to choose a quick release system that is quality-assured and reliable. Look for brands that are known for their high standards in the motorsport industry and have positive customer feedback.

Preparing for Installation

Before starting the installation process, ensure that you have all the required tools and equipment. You will need a socket set, a wrench, some screwdrivers, and possibly a puller tool, depending on your steering wheel. Additionally, remember to disconnect your vehicle’s battery before starting the installation. This step is crucial to prevent accidental airbag deployment.

Also, make sure to have a safe and clean area to work in. This will not only make the installation process easier but also prevent any unwanted damage to the vehicle or the component.

Installing the Quick Release System – Bolt-On Type

Installing a quick release steering wheel in a BMW E36 involves several steps. The first part of the process is removing the existing steering wheel. After disconnecting the battery, remove the airbag from the steering wheel by unscrewing the bolts at the back of the steering wheel. After that, carefully disconnect the airbag’s electrical connector.

Once the airbag is removed, you can then unscrew and remove the steering wheel. The next step involves installing the hub adapter onto the steering column. Make sure that the hub adapter fits perfectly onto the column. Once the adapter is in place, bolt it onto the column.

After the hub adapter is securely attached, you can now install the quick release mechanism. Attach the quick release to the hub adapter, ensuring that the release mechanism is oriented correctly. Once done, you can now attach the steering wheel to the quick release mechanism. Remember to connect the horn wire to the steering wheel.

Install the Quick Release System – Weld-On Type

For those who opt for the weld-on type quick release system, the first few steps are similar to the bolt-on installation. After removing the existing steering wheel, you’ll need to prepare your steering column for welding. It’s essential to clean the area thoroughly and remove any dirt or grease to ensure a solid weld.

After preparing the steering column, weld the quick release hub directly onto the column. Use a competent welding machine and ensure you have a solid weld, as this step is critical for both the safety and functionality of the quick release system.

Once the hub is securely welded, attach the quick release mechanism to the hub, followed by the steering wheel. As with the bolt-on type, make sure the horn wire is connected to the steering wheel.

The installation of a quick release steering wheel in a track-day BMW E36 is not a simple task. It requires a good understanding of the car’s steering system, as well as the correct tools and equipment. However, with careful preparation and precise execution, it is an achievable task that will significantly enhance your safety on the track. Remember, in motorsport, every second counts, and a quick release steering wheel could make all the difference during an emergency. Ensure your safety on the track by investing in and installing a quick release steering wheel system.

Maintaining and Testing Your Quick Release System

After successfully installing the quick release system on your track-day BMW E36, maintaining it becomes crucial to ensure its longevity and functionality. Regularly inspect the quick release mechanism for wear and tear. If you notice any loose parts or rust, take immediate action to rectify the issue.

When cleaning your car, it’s advisable to remove the steering wheel and clean the quick release system too. Using a mild detergent and a soft cloth, gently clean any dirt or grime off the mechanism. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they may damage the metal components.

Testing your quick release system is also an essential aspect of maintenance. Regularly removing and reattaching the steering wheel will keep you familiar with the mechanism and help you spot any difficulties in operating it. Remember, the mechanism should always provide a secure attachment when in use but should also allow for a smooth and swift removal when necessary.


Installing a quick release steering wheel in your track-day BMW E36 is a significant investment in your safety. It provides an added layer of protection, allowing for a quick exit during an emergency. Moreover, it also serves as an anti-theft device, as the car cannot be operated without the steering wheel.

Notably, the installation process requires essential tools, precision, and understanding of the car’s steering system. Whether you choose a bolt-on or weld-on quick release system, make sure to select a reliable and quality-assured product. Regular maintenance and testing are crucial to ensure the longevity and functionality of the system.

While the installation of a quick release steering wheel may seem like a daunting task, with careful preparation and attention to detail, it is an achievable endeavor. Remember, in the world of motorsport, safety should always be the top priority. Therefore, consider installing a quick release steering wheel in your track-day BMW E36 to enhance your safety on the track.