Why do you need a steering wheel puller to remove, yet just press it back to reinstall?

Why do you need a steering wheel puller to remove, yet just press it back to reinstall ?
Is it just the friction on the way out? Why isn’t it just as hard to push it back on as it is to pull it off?

You need a puller to break the taper

Perhaps someone else can explain it better than I just did . . .

The steering wheel is mounted on a splined interference fit. Which means it requires a puller to overcome this interference fit to remove the steering wheel. The steering wheel also needs to be pressed back onto this interference fit. But this can usually be done by tightening the nut that secures the steering wheel to the steering shaft.


What DB said. When you tighten the nut, it presses it back onto the taper.
If you do ever pull a steering wheel, leave the nut on such that it allows movement of the wheel so it can be pulled, like at the end of the threads: if you don’t, stuff can go flying when it decides to let go. The nut will keep it from doing that.

Yep, you use a nut (on the puller) to remove, and a nut (on the steering shaft) to install. Same both ways.

Yup and sometimes the steering wheel is removed and installed by a nut.

Yep, you have a nut on the spindle, no? When you put it back on the nut pushes it back in place like a steering wheel pusher. Can’t remember the exact configuration anymore but seems like there is a spring on there somewhere too so that you can’t get the snap ring back on without using the puller again to push the spring down. I’ve got all home-made stuff in the tool box but don’t expect to ever use it again.

I figure that they made it that way because of corrosion. With a tapered shaft you should still be able to remove the steering wheel no matter how bad it’s rusted on there.

This seems like a appropriate place to toss out a couple of unsolicited tips.

A steering wheel puller for a shade tree mechanic (like me) is a helper with a hammer. You loosen the nut until it is flush with the end of the shaft. Then grab the wheel with both hands and pull up hard while your helper smacks the nut/shaft with the hammer. Should pop loose.

When replacing the wheel, there may be a snap ring just above the bearing. You have to pull up on the shaft while pressing down on the snap ring to get it to seat in its notch. A piece of PVC pipe cut to appropriate length (1"-2") and pressed down by tightening the nut will simultaneously pull up on the shaft and press down on the snap ring until it clicks into place. The pipe diameter should be such that it fits tight on the shaft just above the ring groove. PVC will stretch a little if it has to.

@manolito Now you tell me. I remember struggling with that snap ring a number of times.

Also, shadetree mechanics need to be careful about pulling steering wheels that have airbags in them. If you accidentally set it off, it can hurt you very badly.

During installation…the steering wheel nut tightens the steering wheel on the shaft with a great deal of force. When the nut is removed there is no force other than that required to remove the nut.