The Steering Wheel

This connects to the front wheels and controls your direction by changing the angle of the front wheels when you turn it. This angle is known as the “lock”, but don’t get that confused with the locking mechanism on the wheel when the ignition key is taken out as part of the car’s security.

The more you turn the wheel, the more sharply the car turns when it’s in motion. When turning the wheel, the exact method doesn't matter as much as it did in the past. But you might find the “push-pull” technique is a little safer, since both hands stay in contact with the wheel. The trick to being able to do this is keep both of your thumbs on the top edge of the wheel so that your thumbnails are facing you. That way, you don’t get them caught in the spokes of the wheel and you don’t have to lift either hand as you turn because this slows the steering down. Remember also that with sharper corners, you’ll find it easier if you begin steering by reaching up and pulling the wheel down from the very top.

Where you might get confused:

  • Does the wheel being straight mean that the car is straight?
  • If the steering wheel looks straight, is that enough?
  • Do the back wheels turn when you reverse?

The reality:

When the wheels are straight, this means that the car will keep going in whichever direction it’s facing. Whereas, when the car is straight, that is to do with how the body of the car relates to its surroundings, so it’s really important to look as far as you can. This gives you a much better point of reference to allow you to keep the car straight – your eyes do the steering!

This also applies when you turn a corner. Once it's safe to turn, look as far as you can into where you want the car to be and you can then feel as well as see if the steering lock you have is enough to do the job. Look at what you want to hit. Sound strange? If there are obstructions around, just think about hitting the empty space.

There’s more to having the wheel straight than just how it looks. In most cars, from full left lock to full right lock, the wheel can go around 3-4 times. So it’s really a combination of the wheel looking straight and how the car moves. That’s part of the reason that you need to avoid “dry steering”. (Turning the wheel without the car moving.)

Even if you are reversing, it’s always the front wheels that control your direction, but you need to steer the way you want the back of the car to go. Because of this, the car will take a little longer to respond to the steering when you reverse, but it will respond, so you just need to be patient and keep the car slow.

More driving advice on driving can also be found here:

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