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Steering wheel switch upgrade

96firephoenix

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City, State
Indianapolis, IN
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Ford Explorer XLT
Just a friendly FYI:

If you have the Base model Steering wheel switches that only have cruise control (on/off on one side, and Res/+/- on the other), you can upgrade to the higher trim switches that have cruise control on the left, and climate and radio on the right. This is a mostly plug-and-play modification.

The stereo switches work, but the climate switches won't work unless you have the electronic climate control, which I think would mean that you already have the steering wheel switches.

I for one love having the cruise control inputs all on the same side of the steering wheel. I know it's a petty little thing, but since our trucks are wired to need the cruise control turned on every time you start the car, I was getting kinda ticked off having to use both hands every time I turned on and set the cruise control. And I have the radio controls.

Standard warning that modifying your car is done at your own risk, and neither I nor ExplorerForum bear any liability for damage to your vehicle or injury to your person subsequent to following these instructions. Airbags are dangerous, and you should always exercise caution when working with or near airbags.

In order to swap them over, you'll need to swap the switch harness as well.
  1. Disconnect the battery and wait 15 minutes to reduce the risk of airbag deployment.
  2. Remove the two access panels on the back of the steering wheel and remove the two bolts that secure the Airbag.
  3. Disconnect the horn switch from the back of the airbag, and disconnect the airbag harness from the clockspring.
    1. This is a locked connector - use a glasses screwdriver to unlock the connector by pulling the red tab away from the steering column, then release the catch on the connector.
  4. Remove the airbag.
  5. Disconnect the switches from the switch harness, remove the screws that secure the switches, and remove the switches
  6. Disconnect the switch harness from the clockspring, and remove it from the steering wheel.
  7. Do the above in reverse to install the new switches.
 



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96firephoenix

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2002 Ford Explorer XLT
You'd still get all the cruise buttons on the same side. You could just leave one side empty...

Maybe the split switches bothered me more than is reasonable, lol.
 






Milky2k

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Los Angeles CA
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2005 Explorer LImited V8
I think this is a useful tip. Prior to buying my Explorer, I really wanted one with steering wheel controls just to make life that much easier. My search took several months because I could not find one with all the features I wanted. Had I known about this I would have been done sooner. Also, I recently installed an aftermarket Android based stereo and the radio control buttons work just fine so don't dismiss their value straight away.
 






Reklaw

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Glen Rock, PA
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2004 Ford Explorer XLS
I literally just did this swap 4 days ago. I had been watching for the controls on Ebay but too pricey. I finally went wandering around a u-pull-it and found a set and did the swap. I'm not 100% sure that my coast button is working though. I originally wanted to do this to get the steering wheel controls for the radio. I noticed that I had an extra plug with 2 wires in it hooked up to my factory radio and they are not used on the standard adapter plug for an aftermarket unit so I have hypothesized that these wires are for the steering wheel controls. Now when I get an aftermarket head unit that can do steering wheel controls I will get one of the control units and test my theory out.
 






Nicolas Senechal

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January 2, 2020
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City, State
Sainte-Geneviève
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 sport xlt
Just a friendly FYI:

If you have the Base model Steering wheel switches that only have cruise control (on/off on one side, and Res/+/- on the other), you can upgrade to the higher trim switches that have cruise control on the left, and climate and radio on the right. This is a mostly plug-and-play modification.

The stereo switches work, but the climate switches won't work unless you have the electronic climate control, which I think would mean that you already have the steering wheel switches.

I for one love having the cruise control inputs all on the same side of the steering wheel. I know it's a petty little thing, but since our trucks are wired to need the cruise control turned on every time you start the car, I was getting kinda ticked off having to use both hands every time I turned on and set the cruise control. And I have the radio controls.

Standard warning that modifying your car is done at your own risk, and neither I nor ExplorerForum bear any liability for damage to your vehicle or injury to your person subsequent to following these instructions. Airbags are dangerous, and you should always exercise caution when working with or near airbags.

In order to swap them over, you'll need to swap the switch harness as well.
  1. Disconnect the battery and wait 15 minutes to reduce the risk of airbag deployment.
  2. Remove the two access panels on the back of the steering wheel and remove the two bolts that secure the Airbag.
  3. Disconnect the horn switch from the back of the airbag, and disconnect the airbag harness from the clockspring.
    1. This is a locked connector - use a glasses screwdriver to unlock the connector by pulling the red tab away from the steering column, then release the catch on the connector.
  4. Remove the airbag.
  5. Disconnect the switches from the switch harness, remove the screws that secure the switches, and remove the switches
  6. Disconnect the switch harness from the clockspring, and remove it from the steering wheel.
  7. Do the above in reverse to install the new switches.
Do you remember what model ur new ones came out of
 












Mrooney322

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White plains
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2006ford explorer
parrot made a clamp on unit that would interface with a module you plugged into your cars radio.... that was years ago so i dont know if anything current has come out
 






96firephoenix

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Indianapolis, IN
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2002 Ford Explorer XLT
Do you remember what model ur new ones came out of
Honestly i think i got them from an eddie Bauer expedition. The EB And limited trim should have the switches... Anything With the auto climate control.
 






Reklaw

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2004 Ford Explorer XLS
For anybody that is following this thread or just finds this thread looking for help. 2 years ago I posted that I swapped out my cruise buttons for the higher trim style. Well, I finally upgrade the aftermarket stereo that I had been using to one that could have control from the factory steering wheel buttons. I got paranoid that I was going to break something so the first thing I did was to pull the factory stereo out of a box and hook it back up and low and behold the steering wheel controls worked. I then purchased the iDatalink Maestro SW, flashed it using my computer and proceeded to hook it up. I now have control of my aftermarket radio from my steering wheel buttons. I think the most useful thing with this will be the volume and being able to use Siri from those buttons instead of having to reach over to the head unit.
 






sanelson

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City, State
Camp Springs, KY
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Ford Explorer XLS
For anybody that is following this thread or just finds this thread looking for help. 2 years ago I posted that I swapped out my cruise buttons for the higher trim style. Well, I finally upgrade the aftermarket stereo that I had been using to one that could have control from the factory steering wheel buttons. I got paranoid that I was going to break something so the first thing I did was to pull the factory stereo out of a box and hook it back up and low and behold the steering wheel controls worked. I then purchased the iDatalink Maestro SW, flashed it using my computer and proceeded to hook it up. I now have control of my aftermarket radio from my steering wheel buttons. I think the most useful thing with this will be the volume and being able to use Siri from those buttons instead of having to reach over to the head unit.
I upgraded my steering wheel controls on my 2002 Explorer, and I'm able to control my new Pioneer headunit using the Axxess ASWC-1 interface. Since this interface is programmable, and has multiple control inputs, I had a thought, that maybe I could also simultaneously run the climate control switch wire to it so it could utilize those otherwise unused buttons as well for other stereo functions. But I'm not able to find where the wire for the climate control buttons lead to once it leaves the steering column so I can tap into it. Does anyone have any ideas on where it might be located?
 






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