Understanding automobile steering wheels

A steering wheel, often known as a driving wheel or hand wheel, is a type of vehicle steering control. Most modern land vehicles, including all mass-produced automobiles, buses, light, and heavy trucks, and tractors, have steering wheels. The steering wheel is the part of the steering system that the driver controls; the remainder of the steering system reacts to the driver’s actions.

car steering wheel

This can be accomplished through direct mechanical contact, as in recirculating ball or rack and pinion steering gears, without or with the help of hydraulic power steering, HPS, or with the help of computer-controlled motors, as in some recent production cars. In this article, you’ll learn the functions, working, material, system keys, and importance of a car steering wheel.

Read more: 5 Symptoms of A Bad Differential & Replacement Cost

What are the functions of car steering wheels?

A steering wheel, and the mechanism to which it is connected, obviously control the direction of a vehicle. It turns the driver’s rotating commands into swiveling movements of the front wheels of the vehicle. The steering system transfers the driver’s movement through a variety of joints and hydraulic lines before reaching the rubber as it hits the road.

Auxiliary features, like cruise control, music system selection, and volume, are frequently included in modern steering wheels. Some steering wheels are also heated by electricity.

Read more: Understanding wheel balancing and wheel alignment

How does my car steering wheel works?

The driver’s direction is sent to the steering shaft, which moves the wheels left and right. The car’s wheels do not rotate in the same way; instead, they rotate in one direction at a time. The steering mechanism, which controls the vehicle’s movement, causes this periodic motion.

The steering column, thrust bearing, and other components of the steering system convey movement to the steering wheel during rotation.

There are several types of steering wheels, but the most prevalent is rack and pinion steering systems and recirculating-ball steering systems. Any vehicle’s steering system, on the other hand, is responsible for providing you with a smooth ride throughout the journey.

Rack-and-pinion steering entails installing gears on a metal bar and engaging the gears with the steering wheel. As the rack rotates, the pinion gear moves it from side to side. As a result, the steering wheel rotates at a wide-angle, which results in small-angle wheel turns. The size of the pinion gear and the rack determines the steering wheel’s turning angle. The steering wheel usually takes a few spins to fully turn the wheels.

Depending on the model and type of your car, you may need to adjust the steering wheel size, how much input you need from you (the driver), and how difficult it is to spin the wheel. Regardless of how many buttons are on your wheel, your hands should always be in the same position.

When driving, both hands should be outside the steering wheel on separate sides, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Your grasp should be firm yet soft, and you should never use your palms to grab the steering wheel from the inside.

Read more: Understanding powertrain and drivetrain

What are the steering wheel adjustment systems?

Various methods for adjusting the location and angle of steering wheels have been employed over the years. Even though all steering wheels perform the same basic function, they differ in terms of comfort, adjustability, and design. The followings are the common steering wheel adjustment system:

  • Tiltable steering wheels
  • Adjustable steering column
  • Telescoping steering wheels
  • Swing away steering wheels
  • Quick-release hub steering wheel

Tiltable steering wheels

Tiltable steering wheels were first developed by General Motors in 1963 and enabled a wide range of angle configurations. This feature is enabled through an adjustable joint right below the steering wheel, which does not impact the steering column’s position.

Although this sort of wheel was once primarily found in luxury vehicles, it is now used in a wide range of models. Many modern automobiles have tilting steering wheels.

Adjustable steering column

An adjustable steering column, on the other hand, allows the steering wheel height to be modified with only a small, beneficial tilt-shift.

Instead of ratchet mechanisms, most of these systems employ compression locks or electric motors; the latter may be capable of moving to a memorized position when a specific driver uses the automobile, or of moving up and forward for entry or exit.

Telescoping steering wheels

In terms of adaptability, telescoping steering wheels are identical to tiltable wheels, with the exception that telescoping systems come in a variety of heights. Telescopes, in contrast to a tiltable wheel’s wide, multi-position arc, can be adjusted to an endless number of locations within a three-inch range.

Although this may not appear to be much, most drivers do not require any more. Telescoping steering wheels aren’t found in every modern car, but they’re not uncommon either.

Swing away steering wheels

The swing-away steering wheel was first introduced by Ford in 1961 in their famous Thunderbird, and it provided greater driving comfort in unique packaging. When the vehicle was in park, it permitted the steering wheel to be relocated nine inches to the right, making it easier for drivers to access and exit the vehicle.

Join our Newsletter

The swing-away has become a kind of legendary feature, highly prized by collectors, even though it isn’t seen in new cars.

Quick-release hub steering wheel

Some steering wheels have a detachable hub, also known as a quick-release hub. By pressing a button, the steering wheel can be removed without the use of any tools. The system is much used in narrow-spaced racing cars, to facilitate the driver getting in and out, and in other cars as well, as an anti-theft device.

Some quick-release connectors are interchangeable, while others are brand-specific. The most common mounting pattern is 670 mm, which refers to a bolt circle pattern with six bolts spaced 70 mm apart.

31.75″ (44.45 mm), 52.75″ (69.85 mm), 674 mm, and 62.75″ are examples of typical bolt designs (69.85 mm). The quick-release mechanism is frequently proprietary.

Read more: Understanding Suspension System

How do I use a steering wheel?

The steering wheel should be used in spinning motions with strategic hand and wrist movements. To protect the safety of the fingertips, exercise caution and care. The repetitive motions must be done with caution.

When utilizing hand tools, it is critical to maintaining proper hand-arm posture. To minimize overexertion of tissues such as tendons and tendon sheaths, as well as compression of nerves and blood vessels, the wrist should generally not be bent. Dry steering refers to turning the steering wheel while the vehicle is motionless. Dry steering is often discouraged since it strains the steering mechanism and causes excessive tire wear.

Read more: Understanding the working of anti-lock braking system (ABS)

What materials are car steering wheels made of?

For the car to drive perfectly, the driver must grip the steering wheel firmly, safely, and comfortably in any situation. The material used to cover the steering wheel should be both attractive and functional.

Steering wheels are made of a variety of materials, ranging from plastic to synthetic leather. The followings are the materials a steering wheel can be made of:

  • Leather Steering Wheels
  • Synthetic Resins Steering Wheels
  • Polyurethane/Faux-leather Steering wheels
  • Plastic Steering Wheels
  • Wooden Steering Wheels

Leather Steering Wheels

Leather is frequently used on the steering wheels of higher-priced vehicles. To avoid skin discomfort and sweating, leather goods are virtually entirely constructed of colored leather. Durable microfibre leather is resistant to every weather condition thanks to its anti-slip qualities. Because of the breathability of the cloth, your hands will sweat less while driving.

Synthetic Resins Steering Wheels

For the protection of car mechanics, this sort of steering wheel is carefully sprayed with a shiny coating. Always avoid polishing these types of steering wheels because they make them slippery.

Polyurethane/Faux-leather Steering wheels

The Polyurethane Steering Wheel is constructed of soft, high-quality leather that is anti-slip. The stylish and stunning designs complement the look of your vehicle. It also feels good in the hand and is appropriate for all seasons.

Plastic Steering Wheels

The plastic steering wheel is easy to clean, but it might be hot in the summer. Drivers may also have difficulty controlling the steering wheel. Wrapping a little towel around your plastic steering wheel would be beneficial.

Wooden Steering Wheels

This style of the steering wheel should not be used since it is prone to cracking. Horn buttons and installation bolts are included with wooden steering wheels.


Read more: How to change a power steering fluid?

How important is a car steering wheel?

A driver spends a significant amount of time behind the wheel of a vehicle. As a result, the steering wheel is crucial when driving an automobile. This component is required for vehicle steering. Furthermore, the diverse shapes and patterns of steering wheels enhance the interior appearance of a car, which is why the components come in a variety of styles.

A safety airbag is located in the hub of the steering wheel in some automobiles. In the case of a collision, the airbag deploys from the steering wheel to protect the driver. Modern steering wheels incorporate music and cruise control capabilities in addition to the capacity to manage other car circuits and accessories.

With so many luxury steering wheels available, it is your responsibility to keep them clean for an attractive appearance and long life. There are a variety of steering wheel cleaners available, or simply soap, water, and a towel would suffice.

Read more: How will I know my car needs a wheel alignment?


What does the steering wheel do?

A steering wheel, and the mechanism to which it is connected, obviously regulate the direction of a vehicle. It turns the driver’s rotating commands into swiveling movements of the front wheels of the vehicle.

How much does a steering wheel cost?

A steering wheel replacement might cost anything from $70 to $75. The cost of labor varies based on the brand and model of your car. You can save money by replacing the steering wheel yourself if you have appropriate DIY auto repair skills.

What are the types of steering wheels?

The different types of steering wheels available in the market include:

  • Telescope Steering Wheel.
  • Tilt Steering Wheel.
  • Adjustable Steering Wheel.
  • Swing-away Steering Wheel.
  • Steering Wheel with Recirculating Balls.
  • Rack-and-Pinion Steering Wheels.


How do you drive a steering wheel?

Watch the video below to learn how to drive a steering wheel: 

What are the functions of a steering system?

The function of a wheel effect includes:

  • It has left and right swinging wheels
  • It allows the driver to turn the car in any direction he wants.
  • It ensures that you stay in the right direction.
  • It aids in reducing tire wear.
  • It aids in the auto effect.

 Are steering wheels that expensive?

A low-quality gear-driven wheel can cost as little as $100, but they normally cost between $200 to $300.

Can a steering wheel be replaced?

The steering wheel is one of the most typical aftermarket modifications you may make to your car. Because aftermarket steering wheels are frequently better fitting and smaller in diameter, they can improve your driving experience by allowing for faster steering and accurate driving.

Read more: How Much Does an Alternator Replacement Cost?

What materials are used to produce a steering wheel?

Plastic, polyurethane, faux leather, synthetic resins, genuine wood, and leather are some of the materials used in steering wheels.

How many times do you turn a steering wheel?


How much is an F1 car steering wheel?

Unfortunately, F1 teams do not disclose the precise cost of their racing cars’ steering wheels; however, Formula 1 steering wheels are thought to cost between $40,000 to $100,000. These devices are extremely complicated and serve a variety of functions in the vehicle.

How long does it take to change a steering wheel?

Of course, it won’t look exactly like a car straight from the factory, but it is possible to do a good job. In specialized workshops, shifting the steering wheel from right to left takes roughly 6 to 10 days on average. If you don’t have the appropriate parts, it could take much longer.

Should you get an aftermarket steering wheel?

In summary, most people utilize them for both security and aesthetic reasons (as you can’t steal a car without a steering wheel). They can also improve the driving experience by making the steering wheel seem sportier as if it were a race car.

What is the best material for a steering wheel cover?

Microfiber is a fabric made of synthetic polyester and nylon that is ultra-soft and absorbent. The fabric provides a firmer grip on the steering wheel, allowing the driver to keep greater control on the road while still preserving a premium feel.

Read more: How can I replace a bad thermostat in my car?

What is an old steering wheel made of?

Steering wheels were originally comprised of a metal substrate coated in wood. Wood was gradually replaced by polymers such as Bakelite, not only due to cost considerations but also because wood might break and cause injury in the event of an accident.