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How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Using existing steering wheel, adding the audio controls.

How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Postby deathphoenix99 [OP] » Nov 18 2012, 6:47pm

I had Cruise control, but wanted audio controls as well. I did not want to swap out my steering wheel as that is quite expensive, so I decided to just mod my current wheel to fit the controls. I purchased the switch for $25 and the harness for $19.

Audio Switches, P/N 25851951
Wiring Harness, P/N 25889498

Finished Product
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For those wondering, this is the connector on the clock spring, all of the terminals have a pin.
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If you do not have onstar and do not have bluetooth, this will not give you bluetooth even though the switch is there for it. Instead, if you hit the center switch or call button, it will just mute the radio. All of the other buttons work as they show and you can read your owners manual for a detailed description.

Difficulty Level, 6/10, mainly because you do have to cut plastic on your current steering wheel. Also, you do have to splice wires or re-pin the harness.

Tools needed:

Allan wrench (small enough to fit inside the small holes on the side of steering wheel)
Torx bits T15 and T30
Small flat head screwdriver
3 Small screws to mount Audio controls
Dremel with cut off wheels and sander
Electrical tape, crimps, small screw drivers for de-pinning.


First, you will need to disable the air bag. I pulled fuses 40 and 45 under the hood on my 2011 Silverado. Follow instructions you find online, they say to make sure it's unplugged for at least 30 minutes, some say to disconnect the battery, and that's probably a good idea. How you disable it is up to you.

Next, it's a good idea to diable the horn, remove the horn fuse under the hood, otherwise you will probably be honking a lot, I sure did before I pulled mine.

Once it's disabled, you will need an allan wrench, the biggest that will fit into the hole, I used a small phillips screwdriver, but an allan wrench would be easier. You basically need to push it in and catch a spring clip and push it away. This is a very slow process for me as there is a lot of room for the wrench to move around, just push it as straight as possible and feel around. It shouldn't take more than 1 5/8" for it to make contact, so it's helpful to have a mark to go by.

These are the spring clips you are looking for.
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So push one side, slowly pull on the air bag and release the other side, try to keep it from latching again, otherwise you will have to go back and forth until both sides are done.

There is a youtube video of how to remove the air bag and steering wheel if you need further help.

Once the air bag is released, there are two connectors you need to remove. There is a small clear plastic latch that has to be pulled out before the connectors can be removed. I used a small flat head to release them.

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After they are pulled up like in the picture above, there are two tabs, one on each side of the connector that have to be pushed in while the connector is pulled out. Once you have both connectors removed, set the air bag to the side. Be cautious and never point the air bag at your body or your face. Keep the trim side away from you and never place trim side face down.

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Now disconnect the small wires leading to the horn, there are 3 tan wires with connectors, top right, top left, and bottom. There is also a black wire for the horn that has to be disconnected on the right side.

Now remove the 4 large torx bits, T30, and remove the horn assembly.

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Now disconnect the wiring harness going to the cruise control and the main connector on top. I used a small flat head to lift of the tab on the top connector while I pulled the connector out.

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To remove the harness, you will have to slowly pull the harness out, you cannot pull the cruise connetor under the steering wheel frame, so you will have to pull the harness all the way to the cruise side of the wheel. The main connector and horn harness fit under the frame, just takes time.

Once the harness is removed, I brought it inside so that I can modify the new harness to work. Looking at the two, you will notice that the new harness doesn't have a full horn harness, just a ground and a short orange wire that is in place of the tan wire.

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Remove the electrical tape from the old harness to get to the wires.

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Now remove the connectors safety lock, then to depin the wire, there are two safety catches that have to be pushed in, one on each side, it's the little holes you see on the connector. Push both in, gently so that you don't break them off and pull the wire out. I only swapped the orange and tan wire. If you prefer, you could cut the wires and splice, I chose to combine vs splice.

I swapped in the tan wiring and ran it along the new wiring and taped it up.
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For the black ground wire for the horn, I decided to cut the wire of the horn be be long enough to be compined with the ground wire on the new harness. I didn't have a flat spade terminal that would fit the connector on the new harness, but a open end terminal fit it perfectly.

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So I ran everything to look like the original harness with the addition of the new stuff.

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Now that the harness was completed, you can re install it, it will have to start on the cruise side and be fed through to the center and finally to the audio side and down to the horn. It's a tight squeeze, but it all fits and looks like stock again.

Remove the two t15 torx screws on the bottom that hold the horn contact on, remove it and then you can carefully pull both side trim pieces off. They are held in by clips, so just pull gently and straight out from the wheel. You can run the wiring harness with or without those side pieces in place.

Now it's time to start modifying the current wheel to mount the switches. I basically cut the right side to mirror the left, I used the dremel with a cut off wheel to make the cuts and cleaned it up with the sanding cylinder or whatever it's called. I would make cuts and test fit the controls until it looked about right.

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Left side
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Right side
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I did cut the bottom right about 1/8" too much, but it's not noticeable, and the cruise control has gaps if you look behind the wheel as well.

Now you need to attach the controls to the trim piece. I found 3 screws I had laying around that were small enough to thread into the holes on the trim piece.

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Now install both trim pieces and connect the harness in.
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My fit
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Reinstall the horn contact on the bottom and then plug it in. Now install the horn assembly and reconnect the 3 wires for it.

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Plug in the air bag.
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Push the air bag back into place.
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Now reinstall the fuses and test, you should be done.






NOTE: I did not disconnect my battery because I have electrical experience and I wanted to test everything before I installed the switches. I first just disconnected the stock harness and plugged the new harness in and only the audio controls, once plugged in, I turned my truck to accessory to test the radio. I wanted to make sure all of the controls work before I made any cuts or installed the switches. It all worked perfectly, so then I decided to do the install.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I covered everything you need to know. I just installed mine last night and finished this morning, so hopefully I didn't miss any steps.


Phil
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Re: How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Postby davidbarrett » Nov 18 2012, 10:17pm

What a great How too, well done.
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Re: How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Postby squires » Dec 04 2012, 11:19pm

Great write up
Just did it this afternoon, given that there were no instructions with the harness and buttons i would have had a slightly more WTF moments.
Thanks again!
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Re: How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Postby NobleGMan » Jul 21 2013, 8:40pm

Phil, EXCELLENT POST! I added the steering wheel audio controls to my 2013 Silverado LS and without your instructions, this may have been an epic fail. The instructions were spot on with one exception - you have to remove the horn assembly before disconnecting the tan horn wires. On the 2013, the sit behind the horn assembly. Other than that, everything else was exactly as you described. Without your step-by-step instructions and pictures, I would still be outside in the heat trying to figure this out! Minus the time waiting for the airbag to be disabled, 52 minutes to disassemble, modify the steering wheel with my newly purchased Dremel (just for this project) and reassemble. THANKS!!!
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Re: How to install Radio Controls on Steering Wheel

Postby BigBlueLB756 » Feb 21 2014, 8:26pm

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