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      02-03-2018, 09:31 PM   #1
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Drives: 2013 135i
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: DC

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Nelson Racing Wheel Paddle Kit Install

So I finally decided to do something about the stock paddle shifters. One of the other threads mentioned Nelson Racing Wheel (NRW). I took a look at what they offered and had a few correspondences with Steven Nelson. He was very quick to reply to my emails and was very courteous. After getting my questions answered, I took the leap and ordered the paddle kit.

Here is the paddle kit:

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You'll first need to remove the airbag. I found this excellent Youtube video which shows you how to do it:

If there has never been any work done with the airbag or with the steering wheel requiring the airbag to be removed, the hole to push the locking spring arm holding the airbag will be covered. From the video, you can figure out the approximate location of the holes. It'll be obvious where the holes are since you'll notice a slight indentation in the vinyl. What ever tool you use, just push it through the vinyl. I decided to use a punch tool to puncture the vinyl and push the metal spring arm holding the airbag in place.

Once you have the airbag freed from the steering wheel, you'll see this:

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In the above picture, I've already removed the left paddle shifter. The screws highlighted by the red boxes are what you need to loosen. They are #20 Torx. The left will come out easily. The right shifter requries a bit more work as the black wiring harness and the brown wire from the airbag is routed through the bracket for the right shifter. Once you remove these wires, the right shifter assembly will come out.

Here is a pic of the exposed switch after the stock paddle was removed:

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I've highlighted some areas in the picture you want to pay close attention to. The red arrow is pointing to the base bracket which sits on the steering wheel. The switch assembly mates up to this base bracket and then the NRW paddle bracket forms the final piece of the assembly. The piece I've highlighted with the red box is a plastic piece which presses against the contact pads which closes the switch electrically. This piece is only loosely held in place. It will fall out during the installation work. So be careful not to break or lose it. The two tabs with the white arrows pointing to them are important. You need to slide the NRW paddle bracket into these tabs. I highlighted the area on the NRW bracket where the tabs need to up to in the picture below.

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There is a plastic pin you need to push out to disassemble the switch assembly. This pin can be pushed out by hand with a small punch. Make sure you locate the side with the smaller hole and push the pin out from that side. Once you remove the pin the switch assembly will come apart. If you find yourself using a tool to pry the assembly apart, STOP. You do not need any tools to disassemble the switch assembly once the pin is out.

Here is a link to NRW's instructions with additional pictures of the process which will help also.

Here is a picture comparing the look and placement of the NRW paddle with the stock paddle:

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Here is a pic of the stock setup:

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Here is a pic of the finished job:

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Also, I opted to remove the negative battery terminal before working on the airbag removal. Steven Nelson was very adamant about me doing this before doing any work. Yeah, the thought of poking around blindly with a metal/pointed tool with something that has an explosive charge persuaded me to pull the battery. And don't be like me where I didn't have the driver's side door open before pulling the power. I had to go through the window limits reset procedure after reconnecting the battery.

Hopefully this is useful enough for anyone looking to do this upgrade.
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