How to Replace Your Classic Mustang’s Steering Wheel

How to Replace Your Classic Mustang’s Steering Wheel

Last Updated December 1, 2021 | Hamilton Schutt

Few parts of a car’s interior take as much abuse as the steering wheel. After 50+ years of being gripped, turned, and exposed to the sun, chemicals, and grime, odds are yours is worn out. Luckily, swapping out your first-gen Mustang’s steering wheel is quick and easy. We’ll walk you through the steps, starting with selecting a replacement.

Decide On a Steering Wheel Replacement

Swapping out your steering wheel gives you the opportunity to keep the classic style, add a modern look, or get a mix of the two. There are hundreds of steering wheel options to choose from, but they mainly come down to two types.

Direct-Fit Steering Wheels

A direct-fit replacement maintains your factory steering wheel’s specs, making for a simple installation. This is the go-to option for a concourse-correct rebuild or anyone who wants an authentic restoration. While the wheel itself is likely a recreation, you still have a chance to personalize it with custom horn buttons, materials, and color choices.

Skip to Direct-Fit Installation

Aftermarket Steering Wheels

If you’re heading in the direction of a restomod or custom restoration, an aftermarket wheel gives you the creative freedom to personalize your dash any way you want. There are modern styles with classic colors, classic styles with modern materials, different types of grips, and much more. Most aftermarket steering wheels have a slightly more complex installation requiring the use of adapter plates.

Skip to Aftermarket Installation

Before You Get Started

Regardless of what type of steering wheel replacement you choose, installation is pretty simple. However, you should still consider the following before you take the first step:

Are you going to use a steering wheel puller? Your steering wheel is probably going to be stuck on the column. Using a steering wheel puller will make the removal process safe and fast. Check out the direct-fit steering wheel install video for a demonstration of how to use a puller.

If you don’t want to use a puller, leave the retention nut on a couple of threads. This will help you avoid a mouthful of steering wheel if it comes loose during a hard pull. The aftermarket steering wheel install video uses this method if you want to see it in action.

Do you want a custom horn button? Deciding to replace the horn button provides a perfect opportunity for customization. It allows you to accent your wheel with a new emblem or badge for a personalized touch.

Do you need to replace any original hardware? If the OEM nuts and bolts holding your wheel in place are rusty or missing, a new set of hardware will restore a secure hold on your wheel. Here are some common parts that you might want to replace while you’re swapping out the steering wheel:

Direct-Fit Steering Wheel Install

These instructions will walk you through the process of removing your 1965-1966 Mustang’s steering wheel with a puller and installing a direct-fit replacement. We used a Volante reproduction wheel in this install, but you can follow the same process with most OE-style wheels.

Required Tools:
  • ½” Ratchet
  • ⅜” Ratchet
  • ½” Socket
  • 15/16” Socket
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Short Extension
  • Steering Wheel Puller

Step 1: Disconnect Battery and Remove Horn Ring

Make sure you disconnect the battery before starting the installation. This will prevent the horn from going off when removing the horn ring.

Firmly press the horn ring in and turn it counter-clockwise until it pops off of the steering wheel. Make sure to keep the spring located at the back of the ring.

Removing 1965 mustang horn button

Step 2: Remove Steering Wheel Retention Nut

Remove the steering wheel retention nut with a 15/16” socket. Hold the wheel while you turn the wrench so you aren’t just turning the wheel when you turn the socket.

Removing 1965 mustang horn button retention nut

Step 3: Remove Steering Wheel

Line up the holes on the steering wheel puller plate with the holes at the center of the wheel. Insert a bolt into each of the two holes and tighten them enough for the threads to get a grip on the wheel.

Insert the third bolt into the middle hole of the puller plate and tighten it until the steering wheel pops off. Set the old steering wheel aside and out of the way.

Pro Tip: Keep the old wheel centered during the removal so the new wheel sits centered when the wheels are straight.

Removing 1965 mustang steering wheel with a puller

Step 4: Attach New Steering Wheel Onto Steering Column

Slide the new wheel onto the steering column and push it down in place to decompress the spring. Once the spring is fully decompressed, reinstall the retention nut.

Reinstalling 1965 mustang steering wheel retention nut

Step 5: Attach New Horn Ring

Place the original spring on the back of the new horn ring. Line up the three tabs on the ring’s retainer with the slots at the center of the wheel. Decompress the horn ring’s tabs into the slots and turn the ring clockwise to the center and release. The horn ring should now be locked in place.

Pro Tip: Make sure you push the button down all the way before you lock it in place.

Reinstalling 1965 mustang horn button installation

Step 6: Reconnect Battery and Test Horn

Reconnect the battery and test the horn to make sure everything is working properly.

Testing 1965 mustang horn

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Aftermarket Steering Wheel Install

This installation is performed on our 1965 Mustang codenamed Project Betty, but the process is the same for all first-gen Mustangs. We chose the CJ Classics 14” Black Forest steering wheel for its simple, classic style and modern blackout color scheme.

Required Tools:
  • ⅛” Allen Key
  • ½” Ratchet
  • 15/16” Socket
  • Steering Wheel Puller (If necessary)

Step 1: Disconnect Battery and Remove Horn Ring

Disconnect the battery to avoid the horn blaring in your ear. Disconnect the negative cable first, then the positive cable to avoid disaster.

Remove the screws holding the horn ring in place. Push the horn ring in and turn it counterclockwise until it pops out.

Removing 1965 Mustang horn button

Step 2: Remove Steering Wheel Retention Nut

Unscrew the now-visible nut with a 15/16” socket and set it aside.

Removing 1965 Mustang steering wheel retention nut

Step 3: Remove Steering Wheel

If you want to try removing the steering wheel without a puller, screw the nut back on a few threads. Give the wheel a couple of hard tugs or knock it loose. Once it’s free, all you need to do is remove the nut and pull the wheel off.

If you’re using a steering wheel puller, follow the instructions included with your specific puller tool, or take a look at Step 3 in our Direct-Fit Install above.

Pro Tip: If the steering wheel is fused or rusted to the shaft, you may need to take extra measures. Making relief cuts with a grinder and using a puller could help.

Knocking 1965 Mustang steering wheel loose

Step 4: Install Steering Wheel Adapter

Position the adapter onto the column with the back touching the column contacts. Push the adapter into place and tighten the retention nut back on.

Installing 1965 Mustang steering wheel adapter

Step 5: Adjust Adapter Trim

Adjust the small ring of trim on the adapter to cover the now-existing gap between the column and wheel. Tighten the set screws until the trim is locked in place.

Pro Tip: Since the trim turns with the wheel, leave a tiny gap when you adjust it to avoid rubbing.

Tighten 1965 Mustang steering wheel adapter set screw

Step 6: Set New Steering Wheel in Place

Thread the adapter’s wires through the hole in the center of the new wheel. Line up the holes on the adapter and the wheel, and hold it in place with your knees.

Position 1965 Mustang steering wheel for installation

Step 7: Connect Horn Button

Connect the wires from the adapter to the tabs on the back of the horn button.

Connecting 1965 Mustang horn button wires

Step 8: Secure New Steering Wheel Assembly

Line up the horn-button holes, adapter holes, and wheel holes. Add threadlocker to all six bolts and tighten them to secure the steering wheel assembly.

Bolt 1965 Mustang steering wheel to adapter

Step 9: Reconnect Battery and Test Horn

Reconnect the battery and give your wheel a few lock-to-lock turns followed by a couple of honks on the horn to make sure everything is working.

Completed 1965 Mustang steering wheel installation

Match your New Wheel with Interior Mods and Updates

Now that your new steering wheel is in, it’s time to customize the rest of your Mustang’s interior to match. Check out some aftermarket gauge clusters, seats, and carpeting to get ideas for the next step of your restoration project.

Don’t forget to share a picture of your install with us on social media. Just mention us in your post!


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About the Author

Hamilton is a product expert and fan of all things automotive. He uses his in-depth knowledge and endless curiosity to create informative and thoughtful articles for enthusiasts of all skill levels. Read full bio →

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.

How to Replace Your Classic Mustang’s Steering Wheel

We’ll teach you how to remove the steering wheel in your classic Mustang and replace it with an aftermarket or direct-fit update. Use our videos and images to avoid confusion or an incorrect installation.