Guide Add paddle shifters to Gen 2 (2017 KF) CX-5 with heated steering wheel. "Easy"

TBarney

'17 CX-5 AWD GT Prem. Original owner of 91 Miata.
:
Atlanta metro
This has been discussed here in the past, but I wanted to add a few details on my recent install of paddle shifters in my 2017 CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Premium Package.

Here are relevant threads I referenced when researching this mod:

2017 Paddle Shifters
Possibly a paddle shift swap into Gen 2 CX-5

My goal in posting this new thread is just to confirm a couple of things to those thinking about this upgrade, and issue a warning.

The warning first:
When removing the steering wheel, make sure ALL CONNECTORS ARE DISCONNECTED before tugging the wheel off of the shaft. All of the videos show this. I just wasn't thinking, or maybe I thought I'd pull the connectors once the wheel was loose. But the wire from the wheel to the clock spring is VERY short, so when the steering wheel came loose, it yanked apart my clock spring. This can be an expensive mistake! The replacement clock spring for the GT Premium package is $200+.

I had a very uncomfortable 15-20 minutes trying to figure out how to get the clock spring back together. There's a LOT of ribbon cable wrapped up in there, and it has to be in the correct orientation for the steering angle sensor to work. I finally got things to slide back together, and everything appears to be working normally - drove it last night and got no errors, I can go full lock both directions and the adaptive headlights seem to be aiming. So I think I'm good.

OK, so now some things that I wanted to highlight about doing this project:

1. Can confirm that This kit from JDM Yamato is pretty much plug-n-play for the 2017 GT w/ Prem. Pkg. I'll say, I'm impressed with this vendor. This was shipped from Japan and was at my house in less than a week. With international shipping, this cost me $218 in January 2021.

2. Every video I watched showed having to install pins into an existing connector. None of that is necessary with this kit, on the 2017 GT. This is simply a confirmation of what user Joaks said in the above-referenced thread. Here are the contents of the kit: Steering wheel rear cover, paddle shifters, wiring harness, 4 bolts to secure shifters, steering wheel bolt, zip ties (for securing wires at steering wheel button modules), 2-sided tape (for securing heater module? I did not use.) The Green covered wires are the new part, and they plug into the the wires from the paddles.
paddle shifter kit.jpg


3. Removing the airbag is tricky. I had a hard time finding the tabs I had to press. I had to study these diagrams from the shop manual quite a bit before I could get it loose. The videos make it look easier than it really is for a first timer, IMO. For one thing, there were multiple holes on the back side of my steering wheel. You don't want the round hole, you want the rectangular hole that is closer to the shaft. The manuals calls for a T30 hex tool, but I use a smaller allen wrench. All you need is something to pry with that's somewhat stout. Here is a picture of the back of the air bag, and the inside of the steering wheel. The circled areas are what you are trying to lever loose - you've got to move that heavy wire enough to pop it free. The arrows point to the clips holding the wire and tabs.
air bag tabs.jpg


air bag clips.jpg


4. The heater module has to be moved over to the new rear cover. There are instructions for removing the rear cover, but I didn't find anyone addressing the heater module. Here's what I figured out:

I removed the screws securing the heater module before prying off the rear cover. If you look through the front of the wheel, you can see the screws just above the lower spoke.
heater module screws 2.jpg


You can probably get away with leaving them in place to remove the rear cover, but you have to remove them to swap in the new cover. Here's what it looks like when you're putting it back together:
heater module screws.jpg


I think the 2-sided tape was supposed to be used to re-secure the padding on the heater module to the rear cover, but mine was still sticky, so I didn't use it. Hopefully I won't get any buzzing or rattling.

4. To fully utilize the new harness, you must remove the steering wheel controls from the steering wheel, remove the old wiring harness, and install the new. To remove the steering wheel controls, you must press out these pins. It looked like it was going to be harder than it was. They're mounted in a kind of hard rubber, and it took a decent amount of force, but press slowly and firmly and they'll come lose. They don't "pop," it's more of a slow release. I went back and forth between the two pins until it was fully loose.
steering controls tabs.jpg

To release the wiring harness, you'll have to clip the small zip ties near the connectors, and release the clips holding the wire harness to the steering wheel. Squeeze and push from the back side.
steering control wire clip.jpg


Here's what it looks like once it's out:

steering controls removed.jpg


From this point, you "simply" install the new wiring harness to the steering wheel controls - use the small zip ties to secure the new harness near where they connect to the button modules - and press them back into to place, taking care to route the wires the way the old ones were.

Then, install the paddle shifters into the back of the new cover. It'll be pretty obvious how to route the wires in the channels on the cover, and then clip the big white connector into place near the top. Connect the new connector with the green-covered wires to the paddle shifter harness. (I didn't take a pic of this all assembled. Doh! Was getting exciting to get it back together, I guess!)

Then reinstall the steering wheel and connect the air bag, ensuring your wires are crossing or twisting around themselves.

Hope this helps someone in the future.

Couple of comments about the paddle shifters in general:

My only real complaint about the CX-5 is that it seems slow at times - and that's not that it doesn't have adequate horsepower, it's that the transmission is slow to drop down into the proper gear for quick acceleration. The worst is when you want to accelerate through a turn, and you don't get the downshift until halfway through. But it's also annoying when you just want a quick burst of acceleration and you have to wait for the transmission to catch up. Using the shift lever to manually shift alleviates this, but there are times when I don't necessarily want to be driving in manual mode, but I DO want a quick downshift in anticipation of a curve or burst of speed. Now, I can just bump the paddle shifter to downshift AHEAD of the curve, without the extra mechanics of moving the shift lever to the left, then bumping it forward a couple of times, then moving it back to the right to slip back into Drive mode.

A few have made comments about the shifters being small, and therefore awkward to use in a curve. To which I say this: If you're in curve that's sharp enough that you can't take it without moving your hands from 9 & 3, you shouldn't be trying to shift, anyway. Braking and downshifting should be done while you're relatively straight, or you risk an upsetting weight shift. Folks complaining about that need some lessons on performance driving. Also, if I'm canyon carving - well, for one thing, it won't be in the CX-5, it'll be in the Miata, but if I were - I'm going into Sport mode and using the lever with my right hand, like I would a traditional manual. In my mind, the paddle shifters are best for those quick little bumps for when I'm anticipating and responding faster than the transmission control module.

I like that they don't obscure the stalks:
shifters installed.jpg


I was actually considering trading in the CX-5 for something with better driving characteristics, like, say, a BMW X3, but these paddles will eliminate probably 90% of my objections to everyday driving, so I think it was $200 well spent. YMMV.

-Todd
 
:
2014 & 2019 CX-5 Touring(s)
This has been discussed here in the past, but I wanted to add a few details on my recent install of paddle shifters in my 2017 CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Premium Package.
Excellent writeup! Thanks for this, it's something I'm considering. Do you know if there's any difference/issues with the Touring model?
 

TBarney

'17 CX-5 AWD GT Prem. Original owner of 91 Miata.
:
Atlanta metro
Excellent writeup! Thanks for this, it's something I'm considering. Do you know if there's any difference/issues with the Touring model?
No idea. Something to check would be to find out if it was offered in Japan on that model. I believe that's why these parts exist, because they are in the Japanese market, just not in the North American cars.

If the Touring model is not wired at the clock spring, then you may have to take the other approach where you have to open a connector down in the steering column and insert some pins, like folks have to do with the 2016 cars. That is covered in a couple of videos floating around.

Sorry I'm not more help on that question.
 
I've seen someone selling on ebay a non heated steering wheel kit but their images show the same green harness as in this guide which doesn't make sense to me.

The seller said you just connect the cables which makes me think they are wrong.

I doubt I can use this harness on my touring with premium package with no heated steering wheel

Might have to go with the kit that uses the pin cables to insert into the oem harness like in this video

 

TBarney

'17 CX-5 AWD GT Prem. Original owner of 91 Miata.
:
Atlanta metro
I've seen someone selling on ebay a non heated steering wheel kit but their images show the same green harness as in this guide which doesn't make sense to me.

The seller said you just connect the cables which makes me think they are wrong.

I doubt I can use this harness on my touring with premium package with no heated steering wheel

Might have to go with the kit that uses the pin cables to insert into the oem harness like in this video

Actually, I think there's a good chance your eBay seller is correct. The heated steering wheel device has a connector that is separate from the steering wheel controls harness. It's the right-most white connector in the third pic from my original post. The only difference between heated and non-heated is that the back cover for the steering wheel in which the paddles mount is a different shape. Non-heated has an open bottom spoke, With the heated, it's enclosed to house the heater module.

The green wrapped section of the new harness simply has the "new" pins already installed into the steering wheel harness, and you have to replace the entire steering wheel harness. In the video you linked, you have to do those yourself, because he's not removing the old harness.

The difference is, to use the newer, "complete" harness, you have to remove the steering wheel button modules from the two side spokes so that you can disconnect the old harness and install the new. See the steering wheel controls in my last pic, above? That harness will be replaced by the new harness, and it'll have the new green wrapped wires that plug into the paddles' harness. In the video, they're skipping that step and just inserting the new pins into the existing harness.

Lemme know if that doesn't make sense.
 
Actually, I think there's a good chance your eBay seller is correct. The heated steering wheel device has a connector that is separate from the steering wheel controls harness. It's the right-most white connector in the third pic from my original post. The only difference between heated and non-heated is that the back cover for the steering wheel in which the paddles mount is a different shape. Non-heated has an open bottom spoke, With the heated, it's enclosed to house the heater module.

The green wrapped section of the new harness simply has the "new" pins already installed into the steering wheel harness, and you have to replace the entire steering wheel harness. In the video you linked, you have to do those yourself, because he's not removing the old harness.

The difference is, to use the newer, "complete" harness, you have to remove the steering wheel button modules from the two side spokes so that you can disconnect the old harness and install the new. See the steering wheel controls in my last pic, above? That harness will be replaced by the new harness, and it'll have the new green wrapped wires that plug into the paddles' harness. In the video, they're skipping that step and just inserting the new pins into the existing harness.

Lemme know if that doesn't make sense.

That actually makes sense now.

I asked the seller if they have a guide on where to connect the cables and they just said it is oem and you just plug it in.

No mention of having to remove the buttons panel and replacing it with the oem green harness.

Thank you for clearing this up.

Seems it maybe easier to just insert 3 pins and call it a day for me especially with the pin model being $100 dollars cheaper.
 

TBarney

'17 CX-5 AWD GT Prem. Original owner of 91 Miata.
:
Atlanta metro
That actually makes sense now.

I asked the seller if they have a guide on where to connect the cables and they just said it is oem and you just plug it in.

No mention of having to remove the buttons panel and replacing it with the oem green harness.

Thank you for clearing this up.

Seems it maybe easier to just insert 3 pins and call it a day for me especially with the pin model being $100 dollars cheaper.
It's not that difficult to take the extra step to pop out the button panels, tho it is fiddly, with the little zip ties, but yeah, if it saves you $100... It's not like you're having to crimp your own pins. Just be careful opening up that connector, and be sure you know which slots they go in - but there seem to be several vids or writeups to help with that.
 

CX_MCHNE

Thread Necromancer
:
CA
:
2019 GTR
This has been discussed here in the past, but I wanted to add a few details on my recent install of paddle shifters in my 2017 CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Premium Package.
Thank you for posting this!! I was stoked to learn these kits exist, and not sure I would've figured out installation w/out your guide.
 
:
Ottawa, Ontario
:
17 Mazda 6 GT
I know this is going to look like I'm raining on the paddle shifter parade, but they came as part of the premium package in my car, and truthfully, once the novelty wore off (which happened very quickly), I realized there's really not much point to them.
I can honestly say I never use them. Don't really see the usefullness to be honest.
Maybe we can do an informal poll from people that have them, and asking if they actually use them and why.
 

CarpeDiem

Under Pressure
:
Superstitions
:
2021 CE Turbo
Probably why Mazda doesn’t offer paddles on many trims (or models)...few folks know how/want to use them. I’ve had paddles on five of my last six vehicles and I miss them on the CX. Not enough to install them in a lease, and I can use the shift lever pretty easily. After all, manual vehicles require you to take a hand off the wheel to shift - and millions of drivers have been doing that for over a century. I use the manual function for 80% of my driving so shifting is important to me and paddles are a nice feature. Others may not see the attraction.
 
:
Northern VA
:
2014 CX-5 AWD
Where is the button to activate the heat function for the steering wheel? Is it on the wheel itself? I wonder if a second gen wheel with heat and paddles can be swapped to 1st gen?
 
:
2019 CX-5 White Pearl Sig
Not on the steering wheel, it’s located on the dash just to the right of the engine start/stop button.

Edit: orientation is for left-hand drive cars.
 
Last edited:
:
2019 CX-5 GTR
The originals are way too small. Where can we buy these in the US?

I don't think there is any US based sellers for Kenstyle.. use this reseller (good results by other forum members for the headrests in the past)
 
:
2019 CX-5 GTR

With Aliexpress? Yes. Been an Aliexpress customer for 7+ years. Takes time to get your item.
With the specific item? No - but for the price I'd say it is worth the gamble.
 

CX_MCHNE

Thread Necromancer
:
CA
:
2019 GTR
I know this is going to look like I'm raining on the paddle shifter parade, but they came as part of the premium package in my car, and truthfully, once the novelty wore off (which happened very quickly), I realized there's really not much point to them.
I can honestly say I never use them. Don't really see the usefullness to be honest.
Maybe we can do an informal poll from people that have them, and asking if they actually use them and why.

Probably why Mazda doesn’t offer paddles on many trims (or models)...few folks know how/want to use them. I’ve had paddles on five of my last six vehicles and I miss them on the CX. Not enough to install them in a lease, and I can use the shift lever pretty easily. After all, manual vehicles require you to take a hand off the wheel to shift - and millions of drivers have been doing that for over a century. I use the manual function for 80% of my driving so shifting is important to me and paddles are a nice feature. Others may not see the attraction.
Totally get where you guys are coming from. I drove exclusively sticks for 20 years, but the last time I needed to get a new vehicle I couldn't find any attractive manual options in my price range. When I decided on the CX-5, I didn't fault it for not having paddle shifters because I always use my right hand for shifting anyway, right?

Well after a couple years driving my CX-5, for me: no, not right. I never swing the gear selector over to manual mode. I'm James Bond when my left foot and right hand are working me though a manual gearbox. I'm Austin Powers when I'm using the auto gear selector manual mode. I think I've given it an honest shot, but I just feel silly clicking that knob up and down to get around town. Most of the time there's no point. So I don't use the manual mode regularly, so it hasn't become second nature, so kicking down a gear with it is not a fast process for me.

But now, with the paddle shifters installed, I have a lower gear literally at my fingertips. I don't need to be in manual mode, managing every shift all the time. But when I'm rolling along in a slow lane of traffic and I see a gap coming in a faster lane next to me, it's almost instantaneous to ask for a lower gear to prep for a burst of acceleration. I can leave it to the auto to manage the mundane parts, and any time I know something my transmission does not, it's fast and easy to give it a hint.

To do the same thing without the paddle shifters, you have to reach down to the selector, slide it over to manual mode, click down a gear, do whatever you needed the lower gear for, then reach back down and slide it back to auto mode. Not the end of the world, but it's hard to argue it's not significantly better to just click once with your hand on the wheel, where it already is.