How To: Modding the JCW Wheel for OEM Paddle Shifters
by Richard T. Lin (aka Octaneguy)
So ever since MINI has been selling their JCW steering wheel, they said that it's not compatible with the automatic tranny's. Never having had an auto before, I never paid much attention, but now that I've got one, I don't think it's fair we are left out of the fun! So I set out to find out why MINI says the JCW wheel won't work with the paddle shifters.
First I acquired a used JCW Alcantara wheel. Then I got for cheap a stock wheel with paddle shifters. One of my biggest challenges has been finding torx bits to take things apart. Seems the ones I've got are slightly too small or too big! Gonna have to get a better kit tomorrow.
Tools Needed: T20 and T25 Torx bits. T20 for removing the MFSW pcs and the T25 for removing the 4 bolts around the panel that holds the steering wheel release wires. The MFSW wiring is placed behind this so if you remove this panel, it's much easier to remove and reinstall the wiring.
Comparing the R56 JCW wheel to the OEM wheel wheel with paddle shifters.
How the paddle shifter fits.
Internally is there any difference?
Only very subtle differences.
Here's the paddle shifter.
The stock wheel is cut for the paddle shifter.
This is where I will have to cut on the JCW wheel.
I stacked the wheels to show that the oem wheel in back has an extra hole for the paddle shifter.
Closer view of the hole.
JCW wheel doesn't have a hole.
So after a nights rest, I found some more Torx bits at home from an old computer repair kit and turns out they fit fine. T20 and T25 were all I needed.
So I marked out what I needed to cut.
I started off with a hacksaw for the initial cuts.
This is what I had ...
... and where I wanted to go. I noticed the two nubs here, not sure if I'm going to have to replicate them.
After much cutting with all kinds of tools including my Dremel and an Xacto blade, I test fit the paddle shifter.
Then I needed to figure out how to locate the hole in the front of the steering wheel for the paddle shifter thread! After much measuring, and making templates, I decided to do the old eyeball way. I stuck a sharp object from where I believed the hole should be after comparing with the stock wheel.
Seeing where it came out, I tried to push the screw through it, but couldn't so pulled out my drill and drilled a larger hole.
Ooops but it's not aligned properly.
So I cut some more until it fit properly and tested the operation. It works great! Plenty of clearance and the shifter is solid whether pushing or pulling!
Time to do the other side! Woohoo!!
I decided to try locating the shifter a bit differently this time by starting with the hole/screw that holds the shifter in place. Using an Xacto I located the hole by eyeballing it and proceeded.
I then used a screwdriver like an Awl to punch a hole.
Then I drilled it through.
Then I put the screw inside.
Then I started cutting ...
... and carving ...
... and more carving ...
... and more carving.
I could see the screw protruding now.
I screwed the paddle shifter into place and checked my work. Looks good from here.
Whoa, I'm way off from the back side, but the shifters are located correctly.
Closeup of the first one I installed.
Closeup of the second side.
Oh well, I won't be seeing the backside ever again, lol.
So now I wanted to test out how to remove the airbag. I used a Hex wrench to push the wires to practice.
Ok, now for real. Let's pull the negative ground using a 10mm wrench.
Time to release the airbag...it works!
Now using a 16mm socket, to pull off the steering column bolt. Made sure the wheel was centered before I got to this stage. Nothing like driving with a steering wheel off a bit from center!
Here's the completed setup!
The "impossible" has been done! Woohoo!