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CarKid1989 Reader
5/13/09 12:41 a.m.

Does any car come with a smaller diameter steering wheel that replaces the Miata unit? Someone has a picture of a 1999ish miata steering wheel on an earlier one...dunno of any size difference though.

Any others cars?


Keith SuperDork
5/13/09 1:09 a.m.

The same spline is used on Subarus as well as a lot of other Mazdas. Dunno about diameter, but maybe on an RX7? I don't think there was any variation in diameter on factory Miata wheels.

2.0dohc New Reader
5/13/09 6:32 a.m.

sorry to hijack you thread, but its along the same lines

I have a 94 with functional air bags(I think, but is anybody really sure they will work?). Can I just unplug the air bag and remove the steering wheel? Is there a way to disable the entire system with out causing an explosion?

Woody Dork
5/13/09 7:53 a.m.
2.0dohc wrote: sorry to hijack you thread, but its along the same lines I have a 94 with functional air bags(I think, but is anybody really sure they will work?). Can I just unplug the air bag and remove the steering wheel? Is there a way to disable the entire system with out causing an explosion?

As a follow-up FYI to your hijack, about two years ago, I removed a pair of airbags from an Escort that we were about to cut up in a training exercise for firefighters. I thought that I might be able to disassemble the unit itself and use it for future training.

The more I looked at it, the more I realized that I really couldn't do much with them, and that I was now in possession of a pair of small explosive devices. I also discovered that they were nearly impossible to get rid of (you can't exactly just toss them in a dumpster). They were only worth about $5 on e-Bay and a bitch to ship, so that wasn't really an option either. I couldn't wait to get rid of them. I finally got a dealership to take them.

car39 Reader
5/13/09 7:56 a.m.

Woody, dealerships have rigs to "blow" the bags after warranty replacement. In fact, we did a bunch of them yesterday. It was like the 4th of July, with the techs standing around laughing.

mistanfo Dork
5/13/09 8:40 a.m.

For fun, find a nice empty parking lot. rig some wire up to the airbag's connectors, and have a car battery nearby. Hook wires up to car battery, and if you had the steering wheel face down, you should be able to launch it fairly high into the air.

Back on topic, the MX-3 wheel will fit, as well as RX-7 wheels from 1979 to 1996. Subarus use the same spline, as Keith said, and IIRC, most aftermarket hubs tend to be shorter in the Subarus than the standard Miata replacement hub. Also, you would have to alter a Subaru hub so that the turn signal canceling still worked.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath Production Editor
5/13/09 8:53 a.m.

Funny-I've been looking for a wheel that's slightly larger in diameter to offset the effort in my Miata. I like the precision and feedback of manual steering, but a bigger lever would be nice too.

(no power steering + 9" wide wheels=Tom getting Popeye forearms.)

Keith SuperDork
5/13/09 11:03 a.m.

It's fun looking at the factory manuals to see how their "controlled airbag detonation" rigs get more and more complex over the years. Basically, a stack of tires strapped together.

We've got dozens of them at Flyin' Miata. I want to make an airbag-powered cannon.

The Canadian 1990-92 Miatas didn't have airbags, and were fitted with a fairly attractive three-spoke wheel. It also sat further from the driver. I think the wheel was also used on some late 80's Proteges.

bigbrainonbrad New Reader
5/13/09 11:12 a.m.

Anybody have info on completly getting rid of the airbag system, sensors et al. My dummy light sometimes flashes 6 times others its off and sometimes stays constantly lit. I'm thinking of getting a smaller wheel for some leg room and getting entirely rid of the air bag system sound like a recipe for loosing a few pounds.

Keith SuperDork
5/13/09 11:57 a.m.

Sure, just remove everything involved with the airbag system It actually has a wiring harness that's almost-but-not-quite independent of the rest of the car, and wrapped in bright blue. All the control boxes are also easy to identify. There are four (I think) sensors, one under each fender, one by the hood latch and one under the dash.

Takes a while, but you'll probably lose 15 lbs of weight.

bigbrainonbrad New Reader
5/13/09 12:17 p.m.

Keith other than pulling the battery cables to discharge the sytem and being careful with the airbag unit itself, is there anything else to watch out for? I'm surprised that stuff would weigh 15 lbs, I was thinking more along the lines of 3 or 4. But more is always a good thing when you're stripping it out right!

Duke SuperDork
1/14/11 9:38 a.m.

Thread revival time!

I'd like to replace the OEM wheel in my '96 Miata with something that feels a little better, and maybe a slightly smaller diameter. It doesn't really need to have an airbag.

1) Recommendations? I don't really want a Chinese ebay death trap, but I'd rather not invest $300+ in the project, either. D-shaped would be cool. Needs a horn button, preferably.

2) If I get something without an airbag, am I going to have a continuous CEL from removing it? If so, what do I do about that?

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 HalfDork
1/14/11 9:51 a.m.

I'm a fan of having all the tactile pieces in my car feel good. Three things you can't help but touch when you drive: seat, steering wheel, and shift knob. I'd pay decent money and put a good momo (monte carlo or prototipo are great) steering wheel and shift knob. The difference is startling actually. Seat is a bit more of a pita, and much more expensive, so I'd go with the low hanging fruit in the knob and the wheel. This didn't help you at all, I know.

Duke SuperDork
1/14/11 9:54 a.m.

It's got Momo Starts in it now, but they're kinda beat. I may look at replacing them another year (something wider wouldn't hurt). It's also got an (I think) Voodoo heavy aluminum spherical shift knob, so the wheel is my first target.

ZOO Dork
1/14/11 9:56 a.m.

I've got quite a few non-airbag CDN wheels if anyone is interested.

Keith SuperDork
1/14/11 10:00 a.m.

The steering wheel is your main point of contact with the car, and your most tactile. A good wheel makes a huge difference. The best price I've seen on Momos is at ltdmotorsports.com, by the way. I've got a collection of wheels collected from various places, and I have to say there are some Grants that are both inexpensive and inoffensive. I'm currently using one on the MG. Note that you may need a spacer to pull the wheel back a bit to the correct location, Canadian cars had a different set of stalks. Come to think of it, they may have had a different dish on the wheel as well. Zoo, do you have an airbagged wheel to comare?

As for the airbag, you can either pull the electronics (easier than it sounds) or stick a resistor across a couple of wires to avoid a problem light. It's a different light than the engine one. Blatant plug: Mazda Miata Performance Projects covers installing a steering wheel on a 1990-05 Miata

ZOO Dork
1/14/11 10:07 a.m.
Keith wrote: Zoo, do you have an airbagged wheel to comare?

I don't yet -- but I've started the search for a Miata for my son (he's 14), so I may have something in the near future.

Keith SuperDork
1/14/11 10:12 a.m.

Yeah, better get right on that

ZOO Dork
1/14/11 10:18 a.m.
Keith wrote: Yeah, better get right on that

Looking for a father-grandfather-son-grandson project -- hence the early start.

There needs to be significant ownerhsip -- blood, sweat, and tears from him so that he treats the car with respect. Plus, in the life of a child, two years is nothing.

Duke SuperDork
1/14/11 10:26 a.m.
Keith wrote: ltdmotorsports.com

That redirects me to some life-coach-business-management crap, and I can't find anything relevant by Googling "LTD Motorsports" either. Any further info available? Thanks.

[edit] Or is it LTB Autosports?

Keith SuperDork
1/14/11 11:03 a.m.

My bad, LTBautosports.com. Serves me right for using my memory. Thanks. I've used them a few times.

Slyp_Dawg Reader
1/14/11 11:12 a.m.

if you're interested in aftermarket (ie racing/tasteful looking tuner wheels), a 350mm wheel is the same diameter as stock, and wheels larger than that are a bit rare unless you get into the realm of oval car wheels, which while being stupid light, will require wrapping the rim to get something other than bare metal, and will require some sort of adapting to get it to mount up to a standard Momo/OMP/Sparco hub as the bolt circle is a bit smaller if memory serves. in Church of England, a 13.8" wheel is equivalent to stock, so there are some oval wheels smaller than that (most are 15", some have a 13" option), but you still run into the issues of mounting it and wrapping the rim so you don't freeze your hands to the wheel in the dead of winter.

as far as aftermarket wheels, I've got an OMP Velocita I'm waiting on a hub adaptor for, and once it comes in and I can confirm it will still pass state inspection with that wheel, it's going on there

racer_ace Reader
1/14/11 7:26 p.m.

In reply to Keith:

Which Grant wheel do you have in the MGB?

Keith SuperDork
1/14/11 7:43 p.m.

Umm. A black one?

Looking at the Grant site, I'm guessing it's a Formula GT in 12". It's what I had around that looked right. I may change it in the future. Looking at the Grant site, I also see that they're not necessarily any less expensive than MOMO.

jrw1621 SuperDork
1/14/11 9:07 p.m.

I had this cheap Grant wheel on my MR2 and liked it. Factory was a 14.5" wheel. I tried 13" but found it too small. This 13.5" was just right. The wheel was more of a plastic, certainly not the leather that it appears to be.
I added a Chinese TRD horn button from Ebay that finished it off nicely.

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