How do I choose a steering wheel?

Your choice of a steering wheel for your car impacts everything from driving comfort and effectiveness to passenger safety. Thus, it is important to make a well-informed decision while choosing a steering wheel for your car.


There are four main factors to consider while purchasing a steering wheel:

  1. Size (diameter)

The size of the steering wheel, measured in mm by diameter, is the most important factor in choosing a steering wheel, and there is a large range of options available. The best choice for a steering wheel is dependent on the type of driving and your preference for accessibility and visibility.

  • Is the car intended for road usage or track racing? This decision is mostly a trade-off as smaller wheels take less space and are more comfortable but require more steering effort. In a race car, this is less important as the maximum turn required for the steering wheel remains short of 180 degrees.
  • Some drivers prefer to look above the wheel while some prefer to look through the wheel. Too large a wheel can impair your visibility.
  • The wheel diameter and seat type combination will impact the driving experience considerably. For example, a deep seat and large wheel can make getting out of the car a relatively difficult experience without a quick release.
  1. Shape

Shape consideration is separate yet related to the size of a steering wheel. Large wheel diameter can hamper visibility, in which case you can consider an open or cut top wheel. For an easy exit from a car, the best choice would be to go for a flat bottom steering wheel, as it also removes the need for a quick release.
A quintessential car racing wheel is shaped with an open top and flat bottom. The open-top keeps driving capability at its maximum whilst freeing up gauge visibility. The flat bottom of the steering wheel facilitates easy and fast exit from the car in event of an emergency.
  1. Dish

Dish is the separation (in mm) between the mounting surface and the centerline of the grip of the steering wheel. Dish impacts the driving experience in two ways:

  • Distance between driver and the wheel
  • Distance between the hands of the driver and the signal stalks (if any)

The type of dish to be used will be based on the primary use of the car. In a race car, a deep dish brings the wheel closer to the driver, but it can make getting in and out of the car a tedious and time taking job, thus compromising the safety of the driver in the event of an accident. In a road legal car, it can become annoying to have a large distance between the blinkers and your fingers.

  1. Grip thickness

The thickness of the grip varies across steering wheels and there are many personal preferences while deciding on the thickness. While driving a street car is more comfortable with a thicker steering wheel, racing drivers want to drive with thinner steering wheels while using racing gloves.
While the above four factors are the most important specifications to consider while choosing a steering wheel, there are other options such as fabric. Fabric can impact the comfort, texture, and durability of the steering wheel.
With the broad range of options available, you will need to experiment with a few different configurations to determine the best steering wheel for your car.

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