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HOW TO

Plastic Steering Wheel Restoration

By Tom Benford

A simulated wood-grain steering wheel made of plastic was standard equipment on 1967 Corvettes, and plastic-rimmed steering wheels were the order of the day from the late 1940s through the mid 1970s for most American-made cars. Over time, these steering wheels are prone to cracking, especially in areas of the country where the temperature changes significantly from summer to winter. You can send your plastic-rimmed steering wheel out to a professional restoration/refurbisher and pay between $100-$200 to have the job done, you can purchase a replacement wheel for $300+ or you can do the job yourself for under $60 total and have plenty of material left over for other projects. And since we like to keep our car restoration project's cost to a minimum, this is what we decided to do. It's not a hard job, but it does take time since there are several steps involved. Here's how to go about it.

The first task is to remove the steering wheel from the car, and this starts with removing the horn button. In the case of the Corvette, it is removed by pulling on it from the edges until it snaps free. On other cars it may be secured with screws or clips that will have to be removed to free it.
The first task is to remove the steering wheel from the car, and this starts with removing the horn button. In the case of the Corvette, it is removed by pulling on it from the edges until it snaps free. On other cars it may be secured with screws or clips that will have to be removed to free it.

The three Philips screws that secure the horn activator ring are removed next.
The three Philips screws that secure the horn activator ring are removed next.

Make sure the alignment of the wheel is straight before removing it from the steering column. Six screws are used to secure the wheel to the Corvette steering column, but you may require a wheel puller for removal on other cars.
Make sure the alignment of the wheel is straight before removing it from the steering column. Six screws are used to secure the wheel to the Corvette steering column, but you may require a wheel puller for removal on other cars.

Here's the Steering Wheel Restoration Kit available from POR-15, Inc. Among other things, the kit contains a 3-sided file, saw, 1/8" drill bit, tack cloth, POR-15 Epoxy Putty, assorted sandpaper, polishing compound, and other materials. Since this is a generic Steering Wheel Restoration Kit, there are a lot of extra things included in the kit that I didn't need for this particular refurbishment, but that you may require for your own project.
Here's the Steering Wheel Restoration Kit available from POR-15, Inc. Among other things, the kit contains a 3-sided file, saw, 1/8" drill bit, tack cloth, POR-15 Epoxy Putty, assorted sandpaper, polishing compound, and other materials. Since this is a generic Steering Wheel Restoration Kit, there are a lot of extra things included in the kit that I didn't need for this particular refurbishment, but that you may require for your own project.

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