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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Dec-02-2018, 11:14:15 PM   #1
E46M3ZCPILB
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Default DIY: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Hey yall,

I think the trim on the steering wheels of our Ms tend to peel off - i've seen other cars than mine with this problem. The replacement plastic pieces from BMW are around $ 400 - https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=32_1520. so I wanted to share my experience in restoring my ZCP steering wheel for cheap using 3M vinyl wrap that cost me $10 and is a perfect match with the original color as far as my eyes can tell. I bet this is also a better material than the paint BMW used originally.

For the Alcantara, I will have coby wheel do it. This is about rewrapping the plastic cover in 3M vinyl film.

EDIT: I ended up washing the Alcantara and it turned out great - see on page 2 of this thread for info on how I did.

This was the state my wheel before the restoration process :





I bought 3M 1080 M211 MATTE CHARCOAL METALLIC 5ft x 1ft (5 Sq/ft) Car Wrap Vinyl Film


off Amazon.

This is almost a perfect match with the original color. Take a look at the following comparison (top piece has OEM paint, bottom one is wrapped in 3M).



To remove the steering wheel, I followed this video :
This can also be useful.

0. Disconnect the battery
1. Using a flathead screw driver through the little holes on each side, press the spring while pulling on the airbag to release it. The spring force is somewhat strong so you have to use a bit of strength. At first I was worried I might damage sensitive plastic parts if I missed the spring but once I got it off I noticed theres no risk as it's all shielded with a thick metal piece.
2. Use a 16mm socket to remove the center bolt.
3. Disconnect all the connectors from the clock spring. My car is SMG and the pink 2 wire connector that connects the paddle shifter was very hard to remove. I ended up breaking it so be careful, it's a bit of a pain to find the right connector to repair it now.
4. Pull on steering wheel to remove it.

To remove the covers :
1. Remove the two hex screws behind the wheel at the bottom.
2. There are two screws on each side in the front. My hex bit screwdriver was too large to fit in the access hole to unscrew one of those so I had to remove the logic board on the right hand side of the wheel but if you have a screwdriver that's small enough you should be fine.
3. Pull with care not to brake any tabs.

To remove the I/O button :
You have to unclip the top part (with the I/O icon) from the bottom part. This can be done by carefully pushing onto the top part from the bottom hole with a Q-tip to unclip it. You can also try pulling down on the bottom part until the top part unclips.

Remove the M-logo
I then removed the M-Logo by lifting it with an X-Acto blade from a corner and heating up with a hairdryer from behind. I was worried that if I used too much heat it would melt and become deformed (heatgun from the front is a bad idea IMO). You have to be patient. Do not apply a lot of force. Unglue it little by little. Once you can lift it enough, slide a small flathead screwdriver underneath to keep it lifted and use the X-Acto to cut the remaining glue.

Preparation for the vinyl : removing the old paint
I then went ahead and used 100% pure acetone with q-tips to remove the glue and noticed it is very efficient at removing the remainder of the coating. I used cotton balls and acetone to remove all the coating and black primer. The white plastic is not affected by acetone. No sanding involved.





The top part is made from a different plastic that seemed to react to acetone. I also used acetone as it proved to be very efficient but immediately rinsed with water. Be careful because acetone seems to melt the top plastic. I finished using a 320 grit sand paper to remove the roughness left by using acetone and a 1000 grit to make it smooth for the vinyl to adhere.

Wrapping
After washing the plastic parts with dishwashing soap to remove any oily residue, I cut the pieces I needed from the vinyl wrap and went ahead and laid them on the ground, sticky part up and laid the pieces on top of it. Then, using my thumb, I rubbed the vinyl in a way to avoid getting air bubbles while sticking it. If the vinyl folds onto itself, unstick it using heat (hairdryer), stretch it a bit and stick it back. It's useful to have a 3rd hand (helper) to hold the dryer while using both hands to stretch and apply the vinyl.

Here is the end result :


The only thing I regret and would do differently is putting back the m-logo with thin double-sided tape. I should have used a thicker tape. OEM is flush with the wheel, now mine has a small indent downwards and is no longer flush. So, use thicker tape and try it before sticking it.
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Last edited by E46M3ZCPILB; Fri, Dec-07-2018 at 01:17:58 AM.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 12:22:51 AM   #2
Texaz3
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Looks good. I found paint much easier.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 12:31:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Thanks!

Out of curiosity, what kind of paint did you use ? I considered painting it at first but opted for wrapping.
Wrapping is more forgiving than painting as you can always heat and remove - much like pressing CTRL+Z in photo editing software - whereas when you paint you have to know what you're doing to avoid undesired texture / dripping or paint accumulating in a corner like where the M sticker goes. Plus, I haven't found any paint that was as close to OEM color and texture as the 3M vinyl...

Last edited by E46M3ZCPILB; Mon, Dec-03-2018 at 12:36:13 AM.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 12:51:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

How much are these trims new? I always thought they were cheap enough to replace. Mine still looks brand new after 170k Miles. Worth the $ to just get 100% match with new imo.

Nice work regardless, finish looks very smooth from the pic.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 01:07:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

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Originally Posted by Paulo M View Post
How much are these trims new? I always thought they were cheap enough to replace. Mine still looks brand new after 170k Miles. Worth the $ to just get 100% match with new imo.

Nice work regardless, finish looks very smooth from the pic.
I fully understand where you're coming from and I tought the same until I saw :
https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=32_1520

$ 375.84 and the 3M wrap is $ 10.00 and a very close match. I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my M but this... I'd rather spend this money elsewhere like refreshing my susp or my cooling system...

I edited my introduction to cover this part, thanks for the comment

Last edited by E46M3ZCPILB; Mon, Dec-03-2018 at 01:14:33 AM.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 01:30:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Quote:
Originally Posted by E46M3ZCPILB View Post
I fully understand where you're coming from and I tought the same until I saw :
https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=32_1520

$ 375.84 and the 3M wrap is $ 10.00 and a very close match. I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my M but this... I'd rather spend this money elsewhere like refreshing my susp or my cooling system...

I edited my introduction to cover this part, thanks for the comment
Ouch, thatís more than I thought. I personally would still pay that, since they are pretty durable and will last forever if youíre not careless.

But I could totally understand if you go cheaper route, at $375. As long as itís a good job I guess why not.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 01:41:50 AM   #7
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Nice job, might have to do this. Didn't realize the price.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 02:37:51 AM   #8
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Default Re: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Quote:
Originally Posted by E46M3ZCPILB View Post
Thanks!

Out of curiosity, what kind of paint did you use ? I considered painting it at first but opted for wrapping.
Wrapping is more forgiving than painting as you can always heat and remove - much like pressing CTRL+Z in photo editing software - whereas when you paint you have to know what you're doing to avoid undesired texture / dripping or paint accumulating in a corner like where the M sticker goes. Plus, I haven't found any paint that was as close to OEM color and texture as the 3M vinyl...
I forgot what paint I used, but it was something from Toyota paint range. Its not 100% match, but since I repainted both, it was barely noticeable, and nice flat finish was spot on.

Yeah, these trims are ridiculously expensive for what they are. I like originality, as much as the next guy, but I struggle with paying $400 for something that I can make look 99% as good for $8.
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 02:56:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: DIY: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

SEM makes the best interior paint on the planet (Colorcoat) if you want to go that route.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
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Old Mon, Dec-03-2018, 03:05:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: DIY: How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic

Quote:
Originally Posted by ///M3_Michael View Post
SEM makes the best interior paint on the planet (Colorcoat) if you want to go that route.
Good to know. I have a couple more touch ups I wanted to do to my interior trim (not titanium silver)

Here is another picture showing the 3M vs OEM titanium silver paint
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Discussing How I vinyl wrapped my ZCP steering wheel plastic in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)