Steering Wheel Buyer's Guide
- The steering wheel is the driver’s main connection to the vehicle. Turning it changes the angle of the wheels, which controls the direction of the vehicle.
- It is mounted on the steering column, which houses your vehicle’s steering mechanism.
- This part is typically made from one or a combination of the following materials: plastic, wood, metal, leather, and suede.
- The steering system allows you to move a heavy vehicle with minimal rotation from the steering wheel.
- The rotational movement from the steering wheel is converted by the steering mechanism into a linear movement that adjusts the direction of the front wheels.
- Stock steering wheels made of plastic are prone to cracks, scratches, and discoloration. While daily wear is expected, failure to protect your interior from heat damage during the summer months can also cause accelerated wear on this part.
You should consider replacing your steering wheel to customize your interior, make driving more enjoyable, and to protect the resale value of your vehicle.
When buying a new steering wheel, you should consider factors such as vehicle fitment, material, and use.
The cost of replacing your steering wheel will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. In general, an OE replacement steering wheel may cost you somewhere in the range of $50 to $100.
The steering wheel is the critical component that links you, the driver, to the machine that is your vehicle. With your hands turning and gripping it at all times, it is undoubtedly one of the most abused parts of your vehicle. It’s also a prominent feature of your interior, which means any damage or wear on this part can easily be noticed by anyone in the vehicle.
Replacing or upgrading the steering wheel is one of the most common projects for auto enthusiasts who wish to customize their cars’ interior. To help you with your search for a new steering wheel, here are a few things that you should know.
What is a steering wheel?
The steering wheel is the driver’s main connection to the vehicle. As its name suggests, it is the component of the system that controls the direction of your vehicle’s movement. Turning the steering wheel changes the angle of the front wheels. It is mounted on the steering column, which houses your vehicle’s steering mechanism.
How does a steering wheel work?
Most modern vehicles are equipped with a rack-and-pinion steering system. In this type of system, the steering wheel is connected to a steering shaft housed inside the steering column. On the other end of this shaft is a rack-and-pinion gearset, which allows you to steer a heavy vehicle with minimal rotation from the steering wheel.
Whenever you turn the steering wheel, the steering shaft spins, and the rack-and-pinion gearset converts this rotational movement into a linear motion that pushes the rack. The two ends of the rack are each connected to a tie rod that links the steering mechanism to each front wheel. It usually takes three to four complete revolutions of the steering wheel to make the wheels point far left to far right.
Why should you replace your steering wheel?
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider replacing or upgrading your car’s steering wheel.
Customize the look of your interior
The steering wheel is one of the most prominent features of your vehicle’s interior. You can create a cohesive look by choosing a steering wheel that complements the existing materials used on your dashboard, car doors, and gear shifter.
Make driving more enjoyable
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time behind the wheel, a steering wheel made from natural materials can make driving your vehicle more enjoyable. Gripping a steering wheel made from supple leather, real wood, or polished metal, can be more pleasing to the touch—especially if you love going on road trips or frequently drive long distances for work.
Protect the resale value of your vehicle
Stock steering wheels made of plastic are prone to cracks, scratches, and discoloration. While daily wear is expected, failure to protect your interior from heat damage during the summer months can also cause accelerated wear on this part.
Things to consider when choosing a car steering wheel
Once you’ve decided to replace your steering wheel, the next step is choosing the right one for your vehicle. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your search for a replacement part.
Before purchasing a steering wheel, you should check its compatibility with your vehicle. Some parts are tagged as ‘universal-fit’, while others are ‘vehicle-specific’. It’s a good idea to get a vehicle-specific steering wheel to ensure that the part you’re getting is compatible with your car’s steering system.
Aftermarket steering wheels come in different materials that not only look good but also feel good in your hands. Leather and suede can give your interior a luxurious or sporty look. A wood-rimmed steering wheel adds a touch of class to your ride. Metal and chrome spokes are also great for either a vintage or hot-rod look.
If you want something that looks and functions the same as your stock steering wheel, you can purchase a part labeled as a direct replacement. If you want to try a different style, there are plenty of aftermarket steering wheels designed for upgrades. If you choose the latter, keep in mind that you may have to lose some of the features of your stock steering wheel such as audio controls or even airbags.
How much is a steering wheel replacement?
The cost of replacing your steering wheel will vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. In general, an OE replacement steering wheel may cost you somewhere in the range of $50 to $100. You may have to spend more if you want to upgrade to an aftermarket steering wheel made from premium materials such as wood, carbon fiber, or leather. These may either be sold individually or as part of an interior kit sold together with matching shift knobs, shift boots, and handbrake boots.
Finding the right fit
Take the guesswork out of purchasing a replacement steering wheel by shopping at CarParts.com. Our website’s built-in vehicle selector makes it easier for you to check vehicle fitment, so you’re guaranteed to get the right parts all the time. Input your correct vehicle information to start your search today.
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!