5 Things to Consider When Buying a Steering Wheel

The steering wheel you choose for your car impacts everything from you your driving comfort and effectiveness to your safety, so you’ll want to choose wisely. To break it down, there are four major things to consider when buying a steering wheel:

  • Size (diameter)
  • Shape
  • Dish
  • Grip thickness
  • Bolt pattern

There are many specifications to sort through, which can be a time-consuming process. On torqued.io, we offer über-specific filters to help you sort and drill down to what you’re looking for, fast.

1. Size

Steering wheel size, which is measured by diameter in mm, is a critical choice and there’s a very large range. Of the wheels we sell at Torqued, there are at least 10 different steering wheel diameters.

To make the best choice for you, consider what type of driving you’ll be doing and your preferences for visibility and accessibility.

  • Is this primarily a road car or do you plan to mostly track it? The decision will be a tradeoff. Smaller wheels may be more comfortable and take up less space, but the smaller the wheel, the more steering effort required (more so on a car with no power steering). This is less important for a race car, where the most you may need to turn the wheel is somewhere short of 180 degrees.
  • Do you prefer to look through the wheel or above it? You’ll want to ensure you don’t impair your visibility with too large of a wheel.
  • What will be the impact of your wheel and seat type combination? For example, a large wheel and a deep seat may make it difficult to get out of the car without a quick release feature.

As an example, in the picture at the top of the page you can see the MOMO MOD. 11 Steering Wheel 260mm Diameter  ADD TO CART , MOMO MOD. 78 Steering Wheel 320mm Diameter Leather  ADD TO CART & MOMO MOD. 69 Steering Wheel  ADD TO CART (350mm) steering wheels.

2. Shape

Separate yet related from size is the shape consideration. Perhaps you prefer a larger wheel diameter but are concerned about visibility. In this case, you may consider a cut or open top wheel. Or, you may be concerned about easy exit from the car, in which case a flat bottom steering wheel may be your best choice, and could remove the need for a quick release.

The quintessential formula car racing wheel shape is open top with a flat bottom. The open top frees up guage visibility without impact to driving capability (unlike road driving, you never shuffle steer on the track). The flat bottom ensures easier exit from the car.

Here’s an example of each, the MOMO MOD. 12/C Steering Wheel  ADD TO CART and MOMO MOD. 88 Steering Wheel  SELECT OPTIONS :

MOMO MOD 12/C & MOD 88 steering wheels

3. Dish

So, what is dish exactly? Dish is the distance (measured in mm) from the mounting surface to the center line of the steering wheel grip. Dish matters in two ways: the distance from wheel to driver and the distance of your hands from signal stalks, if there are any.

Again, you should consider how you plan to primarily use the car. In a road legal car, having your fingers too far away from the blinker can be annoying. In a race car, an especially deep dish will bring the wheel closer to you, but may make getting in and out the car more difficult.

Accessories like spacers and features like quick release can help mitigate some of these dish tradeoffs.

Dish measurement on MOMO MOD. 08 steering wheel

As an example, the MOMO MOD. 08 Steering Wheel  SELECT OPTIONS pictured above is a particularly deep dish steering wheel.

4. Grip Thickness

Steering wheels can also vary in the thickness of the grip. There is a ton of personal preference in this. Sometimes when wheels are primarily used with racing gloves, drivers want thinner wheels. Conversely, a street car often feels more comfortable with a thicker wheel to drivers.

5. Bolt Pattern

Most high performance wheels including MOMO, Sparco and OMP are drilled as 6x 70mm, if they are drilled at all. This enables interchangeability with hubs, spacers and quick releases. We sell only this pattern or undrilled wheels and accessories.

Generally speaking, only specialty wheels intended for formula or sim racing are undrilled.

Pictured above are the MOMO MOD. 31 Steering Wheel  SELECT OPTIONS and MOMO MOD. 69 Steering Wheel  ADD TO CART wheels.

Other Considerations

While these four factors are the most important steering wheel specs to consider, you may encounter other options. One example is fabric, typically leather, suede or alcantara. The choice here is about comfort, texture preference and durability.

Given the broad range of wheel options, sometimes you just need to experiment with a few different configurations. With our No BS Return Policy, you can order several wheels and we’ll give you 30 days to return the unused wheels for a full refund as long as they are in new condition. And we’ll never charge a restocking fee.

Tim Trampedach

Managing Director, Blacktop Ventures

View all posts by Tim Trampedach →

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