I just wanted to share this morning's mod. I just installed an OEM steering wheel audio control module on my 2008 WRX without removing the steering wheel.
I had seen a few online tutorials on how to do this mod, but the instructions involved removing the airbag (scary to me!) and the steering wheel itself (scarier!). If those are not scary thoughts to you, I'd recommend going that route. But if you'd rather not...
1) Remove the screw on the bottom of the steering column surround and pull off the bottom half.
2) Remove the 3 screws that hold on the top half of the column surround. You needn't remove the surround, just leave it loose.
3) Loosen the 2 bolts that hold the airbag assembly (found at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock on the steering wheel's main center section). Don't remove them, just loosen all the way.
4) Gently remove the airbag assembly but don't unplug its wiring harness.
5) Remove the 2 screws at the top edge of the rear steering wheel cover- they're under the rear top edge of the airbag you just removed.
6) Push the rear steering wheel cover forward (toward the gauge cluster, away from the steering wheel). Now, from behind, you can see the single screw holding the blank plate where the audio controls will go. On the other side, you'll see the same type of screw holding the cruise control controls. :roll eyes:
7) OK, here's the hard part- very awkward. You need to flex the rear steering wheel cover enough to remove those 2 screws. I tried a lot of different methods, but this is what worked for me in the end: I held a #2 Phillips screwdriver bit in the jaws of a small pair of slip joint pliers. Yes, awkward. Yes, not using tools as they were intended. But it worked.
*I don't know if this was necessary, but I unhooked the negative terminal of the battery at this point- I didn't know if this next step would set off the airbag, and decided not to chance it. DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
8) Unhook the cruise control's wiring harness, and the "jumper" that is attached to the rear of the airbag. Remove this assembly and the blank cover where the audio controls will go.
9) Put in the new audio control module, which also includes a new cruise control module. Reassemble using disassembly instructions in reverse order.
If you have a stock Subie head unit, my understanding is that you'll be good to go. If not, you'll need a steering control interface, available at your stereo installer. Mine cost $65 and $35 to install. A handy person could do it themselves, but I chose to have them do it because $35 was well worth my not having to do so. I'd probably mess up the programming portion anyway... the instructions looked very confusing! LOL!