In 2022, 412 people created the largest human image of a vehicle steering wheel. The Guinness World Records recognized the record achieved in Madrid, Spain. That aside, we cannot underestimate the role of steering wheels, especially in the automobile industry. For this reason, we take the time to highlight some intriguing steering wheel facts to make your day.

1. Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 Steering Wheel Has an Estimated Cost of $100,000

The steering wheel of an average car costs anywhere from $50 to $100. However, some can be pretty pricey. For instance, Lewis Hamilton’s F1 steering wheel has an estimated cost of $100,000. Although this may seem exorbitant, the accessory is more advanced than the regular steering wheel; it is packed with lots of buttons, dials, and knobs necessary for racing.

2. Steering Wheels Were First Called Whips

The first steering wheel was called a whip. This was popular, especially during the 1920s, before the term “steering wheel” was eventually coined and popularized. Today, especially in the world of Hip Hop, the word “whip” describes a luxurious car.

3. The 9 to 3 Steering Wheel Hand Position is Much Safer than the 10 to 2

person holding vehicle steering wheel

In driving school, instructors train people to hold the steering wheel at the 10 to 2 position. This has been the conventional position for holding the wheel for a long time. However, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration recommends the 9 to 3-hand position. The experts claim that this new position guarantees better car control and minimizes the airbag injury risk.

4. Saab Once Built a Car Without a Steering Wheel

The Prometheus is a car built by Saab designed in 1992. Interestingly, it didn’t have a steering wheel but instead had a joystick for driver operation. Unfortunately, the Prometheus never made it to production.

5. There Was a Land Rover Prototype That Had a Steering Wheel in the Middle of the Car

In 1947, Land Rover built a prototype with a steering wheel in the middle of the car. This was called the Centre Steer. One of the reasons behind this design was to serve the need for both right and left-hand drivers.

6. Pimp My Ride was Fined $16,000 for Installing TVs on a Steering Wheel

The famous body shop West Coast Customs, an affiliate of the show Pimp My Ride, was fined $16,000 in 2004 by federal regulators for installing a TV on a steering wheel. They had the media player in place of the airbag, compromising general driver safety.

7. In Mongolia, 50% of Cars Have a Right-Handed Steering Wheel, Yet the Law Requires for Right-Hand Traffic

Mongolia’s traffic rules and roads have been designed for cars with a left-handed steering wheel. However, more than 50% of cars in this country are right-handed. Most vehicles imported in the region are second-hand, so this is likely to happen.

8. A Steering Wheel is Dirtier than a Public Toilet Seat

Scientists have discovered that steering wheels harbor more dirt than public toilets. They are even dirtier than public elevator buttons. According to the findings, steering wheels are filled with dirt and bacteria. Also, many people emphasize cleaning their car’s exterior more than the interior.

9. Before 1994, Audis Didn’t Have Airbags in Steering Wheels

Audi was the last German automaker to implement airbags in steering wheels. Before that, they would use a mechanism called Procon-ten, where a set of cables would pull the steering wheel down and away from the driver during a collision.

10. Professional Sumo Wrestlers in Japan are Banned from Driving

In Japan, if you want to venture into the career of a professional sumo wrestler, you must be prepared to give up your driving privileges. They are banned from driving cars because they are too big to fit behind steering wheels. In case of an accident, the damage would be severe.

11. Formula 1 Steering Wheels Were Initially Made Out of Wood

During the 1950s, Formula 1 steering wheels were fundamental. They were made out of wood and didn’t have any buttons or knobs. Turning was effortless because they were very wide–most were sourced from regular road cars.

12. BMW Introduced a £10 Monthly Subscription for Heated Steering Wheels

For a while now, BMW has had lots of subscriptions for their cars. In 2022, they introduced a £10 subscription for heated steering wheels and £15 for heated front seats. This subscription is available on a monthly or one-time payment basis.

13. Modern Steering Wheels Automatically Turn to the Center

Unlike in the past, all modern cars have a unique feature that returns them to the center after you turn. This is achieved by setting a caster angle on the front wheels.

14. A Formula 1 Steering Wheel Can Have More Than 30 Buttons

In a typical Formula 1 steering wheel, you can find more than 30 buttons accompanied by numerous lights, levers, and switches.

15. Porsche Places the Ignition on the Left of the Steering Wheel to Make Ignition Effortless

Most left-hand Porsche models have the ignition set at the left side of the steering wheel. This allows the driver to start the engine and shift simultaneously.

16. USPS Mail Trucks Have Right-Handed Steering Wheels

Unlike most cars, USPS mail trucks have right-handed steering wheels. They are designed to help carriers reach mailboxes easily and quickly. Drivers who operate USPS mail trucks must undergo special training to avoid accidents and enhance general safety.

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Last Update: February 2, 2024