how to install it and where to buy it?

During the presentation of the new Tesla Model S and Model X at the end of 2020, Tesla caused a lot of ink to flow, in particular because of its new Yoke steering wheel in a controversial format. This Yoke, as the manufacturer calls it, is available as a third-party accessory for the Tesla Model 3. In this file, we present this steering wheel to you, and detail the installation procedure.

A “Yoke” steering wheel in a Tesla Model 3 // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

Tesla’s controversial Yoke won’t arrive in Europe until spring 2022 at the earliest, with the new Tesla Model S. However, for the current Tesla Model 3s in circulation, OEMs have started making steering wheels with a approaching what Tesla announced for its new vehicles. We have taken the plunge to try the driving experience with this uniquely shaped steering wheel.

Important Note

First of all, if you feel like installing a so-called “Yoke” steering wheel, or at least an imitation, absolutely contact your insurance company to find out their position vis-à-vis this new equipment.

The steering wheel installed in our Model 3 does not bring any change from a functional point of view: it is purely aesthetic. In this case, the guarantees promised by the insurance are still valid.

We advise you in all cases to check with your organization. Also note that Tesla has no responsibility, since the vehicle was modified after delivery and the steering wheel installed was not certified by the American manufacturer.

Homologation and legality of the Yoke steering wheel

We were telling you about it at the start of 2021, because the question is recurring: is such a steering wheel legal? This is a legitimate question, given that almost all of the current car fleet has a round steering wheel, sometimes with a flattened part on the upper or lower part. When Tesla revealed the interior of its new vehicles in January, it was then legitimate to wonder whether the production version would be equipped with the famous Yoke.

The fact is that in the regulatory texts, there is no mention of the shape of the steering wheel. However, with the aim of clarifying this particular point, the question was put to the Minister Delegate for Transport at the start of 2021, and the answer has still not been officially given.

What we do know, however, is that the Dutch public agency in charge of vehicle approval has officially communicated, recalling that “ the shape of the steering wheel is nowhere prescribed in EU or EEC legislation“.

Finally, when ordering a Tesla Model S or Model X, it is clearly specified that the vehicle will be equipped with the Yoke steering wheel, even in France. There can therefore be no doubt as to the release of these vehicles in France with such a steering wheel.

Tesla Model S Yoke
The interior of the Tesla Model S // Source: Tesla

If you want to prepare for the future of Yoke steering wheels at Tesla, it is possible today to try the experience on the Model 3 or Model Y, by buying a custom steering wheel, in the shape of a Yoke. This is what we did on our 2019 Tesla Model 3, in order to see what it really was like in use.

Where to get a Yoke steering wheel for Tesla Model 3 or Model Y?

We found the steering wheel we wanted on Aliexpress, from a retailer who customizes Tesla steering wheels by offering many different shapes and materials. In terms of budget, it is necessary to count between 370 and 500 euros depending on the shapes and options you choose, which remains a substantial sum for a modification that does not bring, a priorino benefit other than visual.

Unlike the original steering wheel for Tesla Model 3, we have chosen perforated leather, but it is possible to opt for alcantara or classic leather approaching what is original. After a few days, the seller sent us a set of photos of the manufactured steering wheel so that we could validate the quality of the product.

So far, the experience is pretty good. The shipment was made by FeDex, and customs fees of around 45 euros were to be paid. Once the Yoke steering wheel has been received, it’s time to install it.

How to install the Yoke steering wheel on your Tesla?

The complete steering wheel change procedure is fully documented by Tesla: with the right tools, it can be done in about 30 minutes. It is important to carefully observe the precautions indicated in the procedure, in particular with regard to the Airbag. Before you start, make sure you have everything you need.

The right material

Once you have verified that the necessary tools are in your possession, the first thing to do is toswitch off the car’s 12 volt power supply. To do this, a specific procedure must be followed.

The installation steps to follow

  • Disconnect the charging cable if the car is plugged in;
  • On the car screen, turn off the air conditioning;
  • Fully lower the windows and open the doors and the front boot;
  • On the screen, select the Security tab, then turn off the vehicle;
  • Remove the plastic cover at the top of the front boot, then disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the 12 Volt battery using the 10 mm open-end wrench;
  • Under the rear seat, on the right side of the car, disconnect the cable connecting the high voltage battery (you will hear a noise following the disconnection of this cable, confirming that the power supply is cut).

The vehicle is then completely switched off, and you can continue the procedure in complete safety. The second step is to remove the airbag from the original steering wheel. Two small holes are located on the back of the steering wheel, where you have to insert a fairly thin flat screwdriver to release the airbag.

It is possible to do this with two screwdrivers, one on each side, or one side after the other. The Airbag is then removed from its housing, and all you have to do is disconnect its connector, then set it aside for the rest of the procedure.

Tesla Model 3 airbag
The procedure for removing the Airbag on a Tesla Model 3 // Source: Tesla

The original steering wheel is then bare, without Airbag. You can go to the last step, which is to remove the steering wheel. A connector located on the left is to be disconnected: all you have to do is unscrew the steering wheel using the HEX 10 end piece and a socket wrench.

Take care during the operation to have a long enough lever arm, because the screw is rather very tight. Once the screw is removed, you can put it aside, it will no longer be used, as it is for single use.

Tesla Model 3 steering wheel
Dismantling the steering wheel of the Tesla Model 3 // Source: Tesla

Your steering wheel is then detached from the car: all you have to do is recover the original buttons and cables. To do this, take a T20 screwdriver and unscrew the four screws that hold the harness. Once this step has been completed, you can unclip the entire plastic part of the steering wheel, and thus detach both the plastic trim and the harness.

Tesla Model 3 steering wheel disassembled
A Tesla Model 3 without steering wheel // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

It is then time to grab your new Yoke and install the original plastic casing, with the buttons and the harness, by doing the opposite of what you have just done, then tighten the four T20 screws. To replace the steering wheel, you can’t go wrong: an indentation is machined in its center, so that there is only one possible position. Then take your single-use screw and the HEX 10 socket to screw the flywheel back on, finishing with the torque wrench set to 80 Nm.

Finally, connect the connector for the steering wheel buttons on the left, take the airbag left aside, connect it and push it in until you hear a “click”. The operation is then complete. To allow the car to restart, reconnect the high voltage battery under the right rear seat, then screw the negative terminal of the 12 Volt battery back under the front boot. In a few minutes at the most, you will see the central screen turn on again and return to its nominal state.

Driving with the Yoke steering wheel

You are now ready to drive with what will undoubtedly be the shape of steering wheels for future Tesla models. On our side, the steering wheel has been installed for a few days and we are getting used to it. But to have our complete report on driving with a Yoke, we invite you to wait a few weeks for our future feedback to come.

Until then, if you are interested, the procedure should help you get started with this installation.

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