The steering wheel is an essential part of the user interface in a car. The primary control mechanism allows the driver to steer the vehicle and control its direction of movement.
Steering wheels come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Common steering wheel shapes include classic circular designs and sportier designs such as D-shaped, flat-bottomed, or contoured ones.
Both Tesla and Lexus have launched EVs with Yoke wheels. However, this design has gotten mixed reviews.
The size of a steering wheel can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, with smaller steering wheels often used in sportier cars for more precise control.
The manufacturers typically construct the steering wheels with a metal or plastic core covered with a soft, grippy material such as leather, synthetic leather, or rubber for better grip and comfort.
Steering wheel buttons and controls
Many modern steering wheels also incorporate additional features such as buttons or switches for controlling various vehicle functions, such as audio controls, cruise control, phone calls, and more. The manufacturer typically locates these buttons or switches on the steering wheel rim or spokes for easy driving access.
Buttons on steering wheels can vary in functionality depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
Audio controls: These buttons allow the driver to adjust the volume, change radio stations, switch audio sources, and control other audio-related functions without reaching for the audio unit or head unit.
Phone controls: These buttons enable the driver to make and receive phone calls, control call volume, access the phonebook, and perform other phone-related functions while keeping their hands on the steering wheel.
Cruise control: These buttons allow the driver to set, adjust, and deactivate the cruise control function, which enables the vehicle to maintain a set speed without the need for continuous throttle input.
Voice commands: Many vehicles have voice recognition systems that allow the driver to control various functions using voice commands. The driver may use a steering wheel button to activate or deactivate voice commands.
Vehicle information displays: Some vehicles have displays or screens that provide information about the vehicle’s status, such as fuel level, tire pressure, trip information, and more. The driver can use the steering wheel buttons to navigate and control these displays.
Regen settings: Many EVs have paddles to adjust the regen level or mode.
Modern vehicles offer various steering wheel adjustments to allow drivers to find the most comfortable driving position, which can help reduce fatigue and improve the overall driving experience. Most EVs have manual adjustment, but some have electric.
Tilt Adjustment: Many vehicles have a steering wheel that the driver can tilt up or down to adjust the angle of the steering wheel. This adjustment allows drivers to set the steering wheel at a comfortable height based on preference and body size.
Telescopic Adjustment: Telescopic steering wheel adjustments allow drivers to adjust the steering wheel towards or away from themselves, which can help achieve an optimal driving position. This adjustment is especially beneficial for drivers with longer or shorter arms, as it allows them to adjust the steering wheel’s position to avoid reaching too far or sitting too close to the steering wheel.
Memory Settings: Some luxury vehicles may also have memory settings for steering wheel adjustments, allowing drivers to save their preferred steering wheel position and other seat and mirror settings. This memory is helpful for multiple drivers who share a vehicle or drivers who prefer different driving positions for different situations.
It’s important to note that proper steering wheel adjustment is crucial for safe driving. Drivers should adjust their steering wheel to allow a relaxed and comfortable grip, with their arms slightly bent and shoulders relaxed. In addition, the steering wheel should not obstruct the driver’s view of the instrument panel or the road, and the airbag should be positioned correctly in an emergency.