Steering Wheel Buyer's Guide
- Purchasing a replacement steering wheel can be due to need or preference. Whatever your motivation may be in buying one, consult this article first to get some technical know-how on steering wheels.
- A steering wheel’s bolt pattern, size, and dish should be considered well before purchasing one of your choosing. Not all can universally fit any car while giving you the right comfort.
- There are two types of parts, OEM parts, and OE replacement parts. Both may be of equal quality, however, they also both have pros and cons.
- If your reason for purchasing one is because it’s vibrating when you're driving or when you’re braking, you might want to double think about your decision. Most of the time, a vibrating steering wheel doesn’t mean that it’s bad or faulty.
When you get into a vehicle for the first time, one of the most prominent features you notice is the car’s steering wheel. Due to this fact, it’s become a common practice to upgrade or customize steering wheels.
However, because it has been a common occurrence to upgrade or customize this part, a lot of different types have surfaced. In fact, there have been so many in recent years, that it’s become hard to decide which one to purchase among the unending sea of choices. This article is here to help you decide what steering wheel to buy depending on your preferences.
Things to consider when buying a steering wheel
The things to be enumerated below are important considerations that you, the purchaser, should incorporate to your choice of steering wheel. This is because while there may be a lot of choices out there, not all of them will fit or match your car. It’s true that things may be nice to look at, but their function and utilities shouldn’t come second.
This might be one of the most important considerations you will have to make when purchasing a steering wheel. This is because if the bolt sockets for your steering wheel isn’t aligned with the replacement steering wheel you just bought, it might be awkward for you to install. However, more recent cars contain indiscriminate bolt patterns able to accommodate almost every steering wheel out there.
Moving on from installation problems, this next consideration aims to answer your personal preference. It’s important to consider the size of the steering wheel in order to know whether or not it would be the right size for you to slide in and out of the cabin without hassle. A steering wheel that is too big might pose a problem in space consumption and comfort.
Meanwhile, a smaller steering wheel will affect your mobility, given that you’ll need less movement in order to turn. In purchasing the right replacement steering wheel, you must consider the fit of the same while you’re on the driver’s seat. It will matter in the long run.
A steering wheel dish would be more known as the depth of your wheel. This measures how far the steering wheel is from the mounting surface of the dedicated area for it. A deeper dish makes the wheel closer to you while making it more awkward to get in. However, it will also make accessing your car’s light and wiper switches more difficult and annoying.
While the design plays a factor in customization, you should also take the variables listed above and consider the various pros and cons your choice might offer.
Types of replacement steering wheels
While searching for a replacement steering wheel for your car, you’ve most likely stumbled across two acronyms that you don’t seem to understand. These two are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts and Original Equipment (OE) replacement parts. While these two share a very similar name, there are various essential differences between one and the other.
OEM parts are those manufactured either by the carmaker themselves or by authorized third-party manufacturers that take it upon themselves to create and fabricate the parts for a carmaker. These are the parts they use if you experience any problems with your car and have it fixed by the automaker you bought it from.
However, due to the number of licenses, third party manufacturers have to get, or the number of certifications and testing their product has to go through from the carmakers themselves, these types of parts can be very costly. Aside from that, if the carmaker is the sole manufacturer of the parts, or if the demand for the parts is high and the suppliers can’t keep up with the same, the amount of time you’ll spend while waiting for the availability of stocks might go through the roof.
OE replacement parts
OE replacement parts, on the other hand, are replacement parts manufactured by third-party manufacturers not authorized by the carmaker. It is due to this reason that many people doubt the reliability of these types of parts. However, what many people overlook is that some OE brands have their parts tested with the same quality control an OEM part is subjected to.
Because of the number of suppliers or unauthorized third-party manufacturers, the prices of these parts are more affordable. It’s also for the same reason that their availability isn’t as hard to come by as OEM parts. For these reasons, a lot of people tend to go for the OE replacement parts, although one thing everyone should remember is that not all brands are trustworthy. It’s a good thing that CarParts.com only carries brands that you can trust.
Is your steering wheel really the problem?
If you’re asking the question, “why my steering wheel shakes while driving,” or, “why my steering wheel shakes while braking,” then it’s highly unlikely that your problem is your steering wheel. Instead, you should look for signs of wear and tear on your wheel, brake discs, or brake calipers.
Before you look for replacement steering wheels to address different problems, it’s best to look into the other parts of your car first. When one part shakes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the bad or faulty part.
Choosing the Right Steering Wheel Replacement
Since the steering wheel is what we constantly use in our car, it’s really quite inevitable for it to wear out in time. Maintaining proper upkeep is an option for you to keep the wheel look good as new, but if simple cleaning and repairing can’t help it, then it’s about time that you buy yourself a new one. Of course, there are probably hundreds of brands out there. And with the sea of companies in the industry, you’re left with decisions, decisions, and decisions. To narrow it down, we have come up with a guide to help you out when looking for a brand new steering wheel.
Before going to the store…
- It’s a good idea to know the measurements of your old steering wheel as a basis for your new one. You wouldn’t want to purchase one that’s either too big or too small.
- Your vehicle came in with a steering wheel with measurements that are just perfect for your car. You want to make sure that the new one that you’re going to buy won’t block your view. Remember, you must have a clear sight of the road in front of you to avoid accidents.
- Know which store you’re going to buy your new wheel. There are various auto shops in the market; however, some of them may not have the steering wheel that you are looking for. Another option is visiting online automotive retailers, wherein you can just easily purchase a new wheel with just a click of the mouse.
When at the store…
- Check what style of steering wheel that you want to install in your ride. In fact, there are different designs for you to choose from and it all depends on your preference which one you’d like to buy.
- Know what kind of finish you want your wheel to have. If you want something luxurious-looking, then go for the leather texture. If you want a classic look, then the wood would be a great touch to your vehicle. There are other different styles of steering wheel and you better be sure that the one you’ll end up choosing will perfectly match the interiors of your car.
- Since you already know the measurements of your previous wheel, then you better make sure that you purchase the one with similar measurements. You wouldn’t want one that looks bulky or too tiny; instead, buy one that fits perfectly in your hands and would definitely enable you to steer at your comfort.
Now that you’ve gone through these tips, you have an idea as to what kind of steering wheel you want for your car. The decision is now in your hands. Have a great shopping!
Steer the Gear
The steering wheel is probably one of the easiest parts to replace to be able to make your vehicle look good as new. Since it’s the most used component, we cannot avoid the fact that it will wear out soon. Being the most visible part, you’d want to keep it in top shape at all times. There are a lot of different textures for steering wheels, be it leather, vinyl, or wood, and these have various kinds of maintenance. However, leather wheels give the vehicle a luxurious touch to it yet somehow really easy to restore.
Difficulty level: easy
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Plastic sheet
- Spray bottle
- Rubbing alcohol
- Gel super glue
- 240-grit sandpaper
- Plastic scouring pad
- Adhesion promoter
- Water sealer
- Satin finish clear coat
- Automotive leather spray dye
Step 1: Protect. You wouldn’t want to mess up the other components of your car so it’s best to keep the surrounding area protected. So get your plastic sheet and cover the neighboring areas that may be affected while repairing the leather steering wheel.
Step 2: Mix n’ Rub. Grab the spray bottle and mix 2 ounces each of ammonia, rubbing alcohol, and acetone. Spray it all over the wheel using a plastic scouring pad. Make sure you remove the filth, oil, or stain.
Step 3: Dry and Fill in. You wouldn’t want to use the wheel while it’s wet, so let it dry. After, inspect for any damages or holes that can be filled in. If there are, grab the gel super glue and fill each hole and wait for it to become tacky. Position the loose leather fibers to cover the hole to be able to create a patch over it and, sand down the leather using the 240-grit sandpaper.
Step 4: Cover. Grab the water sealer and apply it all over the leather and let it dry before you add a coat of adhesion promoter. With these materials, you’d be able to get a vibrant leather steering wheel. Cover the wheel with leather spray dye. For better results, apply more than one coat.
Step 5: Spray and you’re done! After the whole process, spray a layer of satin finish clear coat over the dye and let it dry before taking off the plastic. And with that, you can start manning the wheel again!
Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Some people focus too much on the façade and completely forgetting everything at the back. So don’t forget the back part of the steering wheel to complete the whole process.
- Though you may find large leather gaps, don’t try to fill in everything. This will result to an uneven dye job. Good luck!