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159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Dougie35's Heated Steering Wheel Install

Heated Steering Wheel Install

I originally saw this done on SinisterFrontier06's Heated Steering and Auto Lights How To walkthrough, but (according to the thread) it really never got documented as completed. The goal of this thread is to share how I completed my heated steering wheel install.

ADVICE: I'm going to be upfront with you. This project isn't for the faint of heart. READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE YOU START, then decide if you want to move forward with it! You've been forewarned!

SIDE NOTE: This thread is heavy on pics. I've tried to resize all pictures to be 640x480, but still, there are a lot of pictures. You are hereby warned! :p

DISCLAIMER: This walkthrough was written after the fact. By following this disclaimer, I assume no responsiblity for any damages incurred, nor for any errors and/or omissions, by following this walkthrough. This is how I did the heated steering wheel install for my 2012 Nissan Frontier. Your experience doing this install may be different (although unlikely if you have a 2012 SL model like me) and it is important that you follow the instructions given, particularly where the wiring behind the combination switch is concerned, for continued proper/expected/safe operation of the vechicle.

159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Parts Needed

What I Needed for Installation:
1) Nissan Leather Steering Wheel Controls Xterra Pathfinder Frontier 48430-ZL91C ( Purchased for $140 )

It is VERY IMPORTANT that the steering wheel has the two-wire white plug at the bottom of the steering wheel!

2) 2010-2012 Nissan Pathfinder Steering Column Multifunction Combination Switch OEM ( Purchased for $186 )

Once again, it is important to have the 2-wire white plug on the combination switch, as it is for the heated steering wheel!


which had the factory heated steering wheel button included. I needed the folding mirror switch....

4) Genssi (10 Pack) 30/40 AMP Relay Harness Spdt 12V (40AMP-HRNS) ( Purchased for $10 )

Just need one for this project! It's not particularly important that it be a 5-wire relay. I bought like 20 of them for a different project and used 10.... :p


Why the harness? In case the combo switch needs to be removed, I don't want/need my wires cut because I was too damn shortsighted to plan for this eventuality....

TOTAL COST OF PROJECT: $374 USD (at least as close as I can figure!)

159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Steering Wheel Removal

1) Straighten Your Wheels:
Okay, the very first thing you need to do is to park your truck with the wheels as straight as you can get them. This is going to help at the end of this walkthrough, because (hopefully) once you put the steering wheel back on, the truck will drive straight with the steering wheel straight. This will not be mentioned again until the end!

We don't need the airbag being deployed while we are trying to remove it! The potential/probability for injury is high if you fail to follow this instruction!!! REMINDER: Brand-new airbags cost about $200 to $300 USD! We don't want to replace it as well!

So, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery and either shove it behind the battery so that it doesn't make contact with anything metal.

DON'T FORGET that you need to wait 5 to 10 minutes before proceeding!!! Very important!

3) Remove the airbag from the steering wheel
Insert a flathead screwdriver into the hole underneath the steering wheel, at 90 degrees to the steering wheel's flat surface. This view is from the underside of the steering wheel.

What you are aiming for is this bar (pointed to by the red arrow in the pic below). Note that the bar goes across the steering wheel, and the screwdriver head is perpendicular to the bar. You're going to press up on the bar. I found it necessary to press on the airbag, like you were honking at someone, while pressing up on the bar.

4) Disconnect the AirBag!
Okay, airbag is off the steering wheel, but it is still connected to the combination switch. We need to use a narrow flathead screwdriver to gently pry up the black button things on the two airbag connectors (pointed to by red arrows).

In addition, the blue arrow points to a connector (at least it was for me) that held a green wire. Press in at the base of the green wire connector (from the combo switch) in order to release it.

Once disconnected, lay it down somewhere safe. Having the airbag fall from any height may deploy it, and we desperately want to avoid having to pay for a new airbag during this install! Brand new airbags run something like $260 USD on eBay.... Neither cleaning up the mess or a hospital visit will be fun, either!

5) Remove the Steering Wheel itself!
Okay, the airbag has been completely removed from the truck. Next we need to remove the Steering Wheel!

If you have steering wheel controls installed (the bundle near the red arrow), you will need to disconnect them from the steering wheel before proceeding. (The picture also shows the bottom white wire plug in existance, which didn't exist before the install :p )

Using a socket (I forgot what size), remove the nut pointed to by the red arrow. You will probably have to keep the steering wheel from moving with your knees while attempting to get the nut to move. I also had to use an extension in order to get the nut to move....

159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dash & Combo Switch Removal

6) Dash piece removal:
<<<<<<<<<<(More images required)>>>>>>>>>>>

<<<<<<<<<<(More images required)>>>>>>>>>>>

7) Screw removal:
There are three screws holding the under-the-steering-wheel dash piece together. You'll need a long screwdrive in order to get them out. Two screws are pointed to by red arrows:

The third screen is by the steering wheel height adjustment thingy:

8 ) Removing the steering wheel shaft cover:
Now that the screws are out, you should be able to pull the two pieces apart. First the bottom piece:

Then the top piece should come right out:

9) Removing entire combo switch:
Remove the 2 screws (red arrows pointing to them) holding the combo switch in place:

Press on the tab (red arrow pointing to it) on the top of the combo switch to release it. I broke the tab during initial removal because I didn't realize that there was one...

On the back of the combo switch, there are several plugs. They must be unplugged in order to complete the combo switch removal. The order in which you remove them doesn't matter.

159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The Hard Stuff: The Wiring....

SIDE NOTE: On my first attempt at installing the new steering wheel/combo switch, I failed to do this entire section. Turning on my truck after the first install attempt resulted in a traction control light coming on.

10) Swapping the wiper controls:
Well, well, well.... The Frontier doesn't have the rear windshield wiper that the Pathfinder has, so naturally, we gotta get rid of it! (At least I did!)

Swapping that piece with the Frontier's is easy. Just pull the white tabs on either side to pop it out, and the other one should just slide into place. Easy peasy!

11) Moving the angle sensor:
On the back of the combination switch, there are three screws that need to be removed. The diagram below points to their location:

Once it is off the old combination switch, the angle sensor should look like this:

The back of the old combination switch should look like this:

and the back of the new combo switch should look like this:

12) Securing the angle sensor:
Now we are ready to install the angle sensor onto the new combination switch. Note that the raised tabs must line up when inserting the angle sensor into the new combination switch. The red arrows point to one of the tabs that I'm talking about. Once they are lined up, tighten the screws so that angle sensor doesn't move!

SIDE NOTE: On my first attempt to fix this, I transferred the angle sensor to the new combo switch, but failed to do step # 11 properly. I rejoiced at the fact the dash light went out, but when I started driving my truck that day, I heard a weird grinding on the right side of my truck several times. Then that same light came on... AGAIN! I used my OBD2 dongle to get the error codes from the truck, and to no suprise, both error codes referred to the angle sensor. I have since removed the steering wheel a third time and lined up the notches correctly. As of this writing, the light on my dash is still on... :(

13) Repinning the Connectors:
In some Frontier's, the wiring behind the old combination switch is different from what the new combination switch expects. If you fall into this category, you MUST repin the connectors in order to continue having proper/expected/safe operation of the vechicle.

Since SinisterFrontier06's Heated Steering and Auto Lights How To walkthrough did such a magnificent job of this, I'm going to insist that you visit his post and go over the wiring of the connectors behind the combination switch. You may need to repin the connectors if the wiring colors don't match.... Sorry, I'm not going to help you with that one....

On my 2012 Nissan Frontier SL, the colors of the wires matched what was in SinisterFrontier06's thread, so I skipped that whole thing about repinning. I urge you to double-check the wire coloring, just in case.... I discovered a bonus farther along in my walkthrough, which I will tell you about later.... :p

159 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The Heating Element....

14) Power to the Heating Element:
Since the wires responsible for delivering power to the heating element aren't in existance on the Frontier, I had to make my own. This is where that 2-wire quick disconnect harness comes in!

I cut the quick disconnect harness in two (it was a circle of wires) and crimped some metal pins using for the wires for a computer power supplies onto the wires, covered them in heat-shrink (strongly recommended to keep electrical grimilans away!), then pushed the newly clipped wires onto the individual terminals. Some patience is required. I placed the newly created harness onto the back of the combo switch and rubber cemented the thing into place. If you do what I did, I strongly suggest putting it into the garage or an open space to let it air out. About 1 to 2 hours later, it's ready to be installed!

After connecting the other end of the quick disconnect harness with a longer two-wire cable using heat-shrink butt-connectors, I connected the two pieces of the quick disconnect harness with the steering wheel:

15) The Heating Steering Wheel switch:
If you didn't get a steering wheel switch harness with your heated steering wheel, then you will have to build this connector, too, using similar methods to the last step.... I got lucky and got a factory harness connection with mine!

Here is an image of the factory service manual page with the layout of the wiring (sorry for the size of the pic!):

Here is an image of the factory wiring harness:

Here is an image of the heated steering wheel switch from behind:

When facing the back of the steering wheel, the harness wires are laid out like this:
| 1 (Green)  |                         | 2 (Black) |
| 4 (Brown?) | 3 (Orange) | 5 (Red/Bl) | 6 (Red)   |
1 = 12V Power coming from the ignition switch on or start
2 = Ground, Out to Relay Negative Switch
3 = Illumination (Positive?)
4 = Illumination (Negative?)
5 = To light indicating power to heated steering wheel
6 = Ground

I wired it up like so:
	Wire 1 => Heated Seat 12V circuit
	Wire 2 => Relay terminal 86
	Wire 3 => Heated Seat illumination
	Wire 4 => Heated Seat illumination
	Wire 5 => Relay terminal 87 and heated steering wheel
	Wire 6 => Ground and heated steering wheel
On relay, I wired it up like so:
	85 + 30 => Power from battery
	86 => Pin 2 on Heated Steering Wheel switch
	87 => Pin 5 on Heated Steering Wheel switch AND heated steering wheel
	87a (if present) => No wire connected
I used a 5-wire relay for this project; so on a 4-wire relay, the 87a wire won't exist (obviously)!

At the back of the passenger heated seat switch, I tapped these wires:
(More detail needed)

When I initially made these connections, I actually cut the wiring harness and used heat-shrink butt connectors to connect the two original wires plus my additional wire back together so that they would work. A few years later, I actually got around to completing the project and BROKE those wires. Getting these wires put back together involved using additional wiring and solider, and it was a complete pain to do, especially considering I didn't want to disassemble the entire dash to get at the wires with the solder gun.....

So what I would suggest is to push the wires into the backside of factory harness, making sure that the wires will make a good connection with the factory wires; then either tape the new wire to the old wire, or zip-tie them together. Just don't cut the wires unless you ABSOLUTELY have to, please....

204 Posts
Bookmarked! This is the exact project I am in the middle-of right now, so I'll be re-reading this a few times.
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