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There is no shortage of reasons for wanting to replace the steering wheel that was on your car, truck, or SUV when it left the factory. Age and use can lead to cracked plastic, leather, and rubber, the wheel could be physically bent, or maybe it just doesn’t feel right in your hands anymore. That’s before considering other changes like making your vehicle into a racer or looking for an option for your built from scratch off-road rock crawler. Whatever your reason, there are steering wheels available that can deliver upgraded styling, improved feel, extra function, and a mood that better fits your daily driver or your classic.
With so many options to choose from, it might be difficult to narrow down your choices. From wood grain to factory upgrades and steering wheels designed for race cars, below you’ll find our top picks of the best steering wheels for the average driver.
For more information on the best steering wheels, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
1. Editor's Pick: Nardi Steering Wheel - Classic
If you’re thinking about a replacement steering wheel, you’re probably thinking about one that looks a lot like this. The classic replacement wheel that’s been available since first used in 1952, yet still looks as fresh now as it did then on more modern sports cars like the Mazda Miata.
The Nardi Classic steering wheel is barely even a design, such is its simplicity. A wooden rim and three split spokes, yet somehow it’s so much more. This one is the classic mahogany wood outer rim, but is available with a number of options including spokes painted instead of polished. Even the outer diameter is available in a range of different sizes in order to suit your car’s steering ratio, amount of effort, and even cabin size. Equally at home in a vintage Ferrari, a 70s Mercedes-Benz, or a 1990s Mazda, this is the go-to choice for cars needing a replacement steering wheel.
2. NPBoosted Quick Release and Steering Wheel
One of the big reasons for adding an aftermarket steering wheel to your vehicle is so that you can pop it off quickly. That might be for race car aesthetics or it might be for an actual race car, mud buggy, or drag racer function, but either way you need a quality part. This is your steering wheel, after all.
This wheel from NPBoosted comes with a 350 mm diameter steering wheel with a thick 35 mm hand grip. The rim is wrapped with suede for feel and durability, and has been hand-stitched. There is even a bright yellow center marker for when things get tricky. It comes with a quick-release hub kit (of course for off-road use only) that pops the steering wheel off with a clasp of the rear ring. The wheel then pops back on using the same retaining ring. Horn wiring goes through the quick release hub and all installation hardware is included. The deep-dish wheel helps move it closer to the driver, a handy feature for most racing drivers where you’re fixed firmly in place with proper seats and harness.
3. Grant Replacement Steering Wheel
It might not be a completely new steering wheel design that you’re looking for. Sometimes there’s just a problem with your existing wheel. Maybe the leather has worn or cracked, maybe it wasn’t leather in the first place? What you need is a new or slightly upgraded version of what came from the factory. On an airbag-equipped car or truck, that’s the best way to go safely.
Fortunately you can buy a new factory-style wheel, or even an upgrade, like this black wheel that’s designed to match certain late-model GM trucks and SUVs. While this one is hand-stitched premium leather, it also has all of the factory steering wheel controls. All you need to do is put your old airbag in this new wheel, plug in some wires, and attach it to your ride. That’ll have your old dash looking like new in no time. If this isn’t your truck, don’t despair they’re available for nearly any modern vehicle.
4. MOMO Steering Wheel (R1960/32SHB)
Here’s a steering wheel sporting a classic racing design, but one not quite so old fashioned. It comes from well-known brand MOMO and will look right at home in any 1990s car that’s got a tuner or racer vibe (or is an actual tuner or race car). The MOMO R1960 offers a flat bottom for extra clearance for your legs, it has a yellow top stripe to let you know when the wheel is centered, and it has massively chunky hand grips to make sure you can hold on no matter what’s happening at the tires.
There are also two big red buttons that you can tell everyone are for the nitrous oxide system, even if they’re really for the horn. Hey, it’s your dream, we aren’t here to tell you how to live it. Because this is a MOMO wheel, you know it’s a high-quality part that isn’t likely to bend or break under racing conditions, or no matter how hard you pound it in anger.
5. Grant Chain Steering Wheel
Any list of aftermarket steering wheels would be incomplete if it didn’t have one of these: the chain-link steering wheel. Never has something that makes you look so cool also been so practical. Made from welded steel that’s been chrome plated, this chain isn’t going to break while you’re behind the wheel of that vintage muscle car or van.
The chain grip is actually pretty easy to hold onto as well, and the three chrome spokes in the center are just the right accent. It’s a 10-inch wheel so you’d better have power steering or great forearms and it has a 5.5-inch dish to make it look even cooler. With the right adaptor, it’ll fit on nearly any car, though there are certainly some where it will look more at home than others. If your 1950s or 1960s cruiser or pickup is just missing one thing to make it perfect for drives down Main Street, this might be exactly what it’s missing.
How to Pick a New Steering Wheel
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While picking a new steering wheel might seem like just a matter of finding the coolest one, there’s more to it than that. Start with considering the diameter, because your steering effort is based around that circle. There’s a reason 50s cars and modern big trucks have a steering wheel larger than a trash can, and that’s because they have a very high steering effort. Replace that wheel with one that’s just eight or 10 inches and you might not be able to apply enough force on the wheel. Get a bigger wheel than stock and you might not have enough room to turn it in a cramped cabin. You might even find yourself unable to fit between seat cushion and wheel! If that’s the case you might need a quick disconnect, but you’re probably better off picking a different wheel.
You can also pick steering wheels that offer different depths, moving the wheel closer to you or further away depending on how the wheel compares to the original. This is a great way to improve your car’s ergonomics if, say, your arms and legs don’t have quite the same ratios as the factory engineers’.
How to Install a Steering Wheel
Unless you’re replacing your wheel with a factory equivalent part, you’re going to need some extra bits. Usually, that means a hub adapter that connects to the end of your steering column on one side and your new wheel on the other.
Start by disconnecting the battery and removing the old wheel. On a car with airbags that includes disconnecting the airbag, usually secured behind the wheel where you can’t see the fasteners. When it comes time to remove the large center bolt, don’t use the steering column lock to keep the wheel in place. This is a tight bolt and pulling on it will probably break the steering column lock before breaking loose the fastener. Hold the wheel in place yourself or with a helper. Install the new hub and wheel, making sure to reconnect your horn.
For a custom wheel, this may require you to do some electrical wiring work to bridge both sides. When you replace the main steering wheel bolt, make sure it’s torqued to factory specification and you might even want to use a thread locking compound. Because the last thing you ever want to feel while driving is that the steering wheel has come loose from the car.
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