Can You Replace Your Steering Wheel? Is it Safe?

The steering wheel of a car is one of its most essential parts because it defines the vehicle’s direction.

If some questions in your mind include: Can I replace my steering wheel? Or whether replacing a steering wheel is safe or not, this article delves into the details to easily answer these popping questions.

I perform a lot of my car’s fixing work myself and can thus tell you everything that you need to know about replacing a vehicle’s steering vehicle if you are interested in replacing one.

Can You Replace Your Car’s Steering Wheel?

Yes, you can replace your car’s steering wheel because it involves a simple process. However, you must have a taste for DIY projects to complete the task, as the method may necessitate fine-tuning the overall result.

Individuals replacing a steering wheel for the first time are frequently unable to align it perfectly in the first go, prompting the need to adjust the overall setup in succeeding attempts.

Furthermore, you must have the necessary tools to replace the steering wheel; otherwise, the process can be daunting.

Also read: 10 Cars Under $20K that Look Like They’re for $50K+

Is It Dangerous To Replace Your Car’s Steering Wheel?

Yes, replacing your car’s steering wheel can be dangerous if the work is done incorrectly. This is predominantly because a steering wheel determines the direction in which the car will travel. A faulty steering wheel is often all that is required to head straight into a disaster.

Almost all modern automobiles have airbags located inside the steering wheels. These airbags are highly sensitive and deploy within milliseconds in the event of a collision to save the passengers from a fatal injury.

However, if the steering wheel is not professionally installed during the steering wheel replacement process, the airbag may not deploy in times of need, resulting in serious injuries.

Can You Replace Your Car’s Steering Wheel On Your Own?

Yes, you can replace your car’s steering wheel on your own. However, before embarking on this mission, you must be well-equipped and conversant with the different steps of the procedure.

Setting out on this venture after only watching a YouTube DIY project video and having little to no hands-on experience may not be a good idea, as fully understanding what you’re doing can mean the difference between life and death for the driver, in the worst-case scenario.

To replace your car’s steering on your own, you must first acquire the necessary skill set by working with a professional, who will provide you with a detailed knowledge of the matter.

This will not only provide you with hands-on experience but will also highlight all the potential issues that may arise during the process.

By following a predefined set of instructions, you can easily set out on this journey and change your car’s steering wheel on your own.

Also read: Are Small Cars Dangerous? Why SUVs aren’t Safe?

Cost of Getting The Steering Wheel Installed Professionally

Depending on the vehicle and the location where you want the work done, replacing a steering wheel can cost anywhere between $100 and $300 in labor charges.

In the end, it all comes down to the number of labor hours put into the process. For a common vehicle with an easy assembly of the steering wheel, the number of hours and the consequent labor charges will be lower than those required for a sports car with more complicated parts, necessitating extreme care and proficiency.

How Much Does a New Steering Wheel Cost?

The cost of a new steering wheel varies depending on the vehicle. You might be able to find a used steering wheel for an average car for $50 to $75. A new part for such a vehicle, on the other hand, could cost between $100 and $300, depending upon the quality and brand of the aftermarket steering wheel.

In the case of sports cars, the cost of new steering wheels can be exorbitantly high. For example, the OMP 3-Spoke Hybrid S Series Steering Wheel costs $2299.

Most countries have no laws prohibiting drivers from using a different steering wheel. There might be a particular set of requirements for any specific country, but in most countries, drivers are not forced to stick to only one kind of steering wheel.

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This is why people around the world replace the OEM steering wheels and fit upgraded parts for ease of driving.

However, because the steering wheel is a functional part of the vehicle, most countries require that aftermarket steering wheels do not intrude with the operation of an airbag in the event of an accident.

Also read: 15 Cars that NEVER Rust (100% Galvanised)

Can You Put any Steering Wheel?

Yes, in most cases you can put any steering wheel. Several universal steering wheels are available in the market that can be used as per the driver’s discretion. However, for using such steering wheels, adapters of different types like wheel hub adapters or boss kits are a must.

Steering wheels varying in size from 280 mm to 380 mm diameter are commonly available in the market. This means that you can put the one that perfectly fits the size and character of your vehicle and addresses the corresponding needs aptly.

Is it Ok to Put an Aftermarket Steering Wheel?

It’s usually not a good idea to install an aftermarket steering wheel if you’re not having any issues with the OEM part. The reason for this is that when designing a vehicle’s steering wheel, automakers consider the vehicle’s dynamics and other factors before deciding which ones are best suited to that particular vehicle.

Furthermore, the handling of a vehicle with an aftermarket steering wheel is often compromised, particularly when it has been fixed by an amateur.

Any vehicle that runs on the road needs to be properly controlled to avoid accidents and in doing so, steering wheels play the most pivotal role. Therefore, it is not recommended to disturb the working of this vital part of the vehicle.

Even though most aftermarket steering wheels are not as safe as those installed by OEMs, they are in high demand around the world.

How to Replace Your Steering Wheel?

Replacing the steering wheel involves a series of steps that must be performed in the right order. Here are the steps following which you can replace your car’s steering wheel:

  1. Disconnect the battery
  2. Remove the airbag. While performing this step, ensure not to sit directly in front of the airbag to avoid any unfavorable situation;
  3. Remove the connectors of horn and airbag
  4. Make sure that the steering wheel is perfectly centered.
    A pro-tip here is to mark the top dead center with a marker or paint to know the exact direction. This will come in handy in the upcoming steps. Some vehicles already have an indentation for ease of identification, simplifying the process;
  5. Now remove the main nut that’s holding the steering wheel. Once done, the entire component will come off as a single piece. If you are performing the steps on an old vehicle, you might need to shake the steering wheel a bit to remove it easily;
  6. While replacing the steering wheel, it is recommended to reinstall the airbag into the steering wheel. However, you can get rid of the airbag if you install a multipoint seatbelt harness, which will also require you to install a roll bar or a roll cage;
  7. If you decide to skip the airbag, you’ll have to put a resistor in series otherwise the car will continuously show it as an issue
  8. After soldering and heat shrinking the joints, the next step is to place the hub on which the new steering wheel will rest. The hub connects the steering wheel to the shaft;

Finding the right hub is vital because in case it doesn’t function properly, even though the steering wheel will be connected to the shaft, it won’t grip it and thus the car won’t turn. Thus, you need to ensure that the spline teeth are properly connected to the steering wheel;

While choosing the hub, you also need to consider the bolt pattern of your steering wheel and ensure that the two match each other. In case they don’t, you won’t be able to fit the steering wheel on it;

The height of the hub determines the distance of the steering wheel from the driver. Most hub manufacturers offer short as well as tall hub options that allow drivers to choose the part that fits them best. However, even with the taller hub, if you feel that the steering wheel depth is not enough, you can always make use of a quick disconnect;

9. Keep track of the top dead center when putting the new steering wheel, if not done properly, this can adversely affect the alignment of your vehicle. You need to match the upper dead center of the hub with that of the steering shaft ;

10. Now, it’s time to place the nuts off the hub and tighten them, after which the steering wheel can be placed up top. Tighten the steering wheel with the screws. Ensure to put as much care into this step as possible, as it plays a key role in the overall process;

After installing the steering wheel, try the setup on a road with thin traffic at low speeds and if you feel anything isn’t acting as it should, stop the vehicle immediately and check the fixing.

To get a visual illustration of how you can easily replace the steering wheel of your vehicle, this video is of great assistance. Make sure to follow even the minutest detail to ensure everything goes as planned.