Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving

DEFENSIVE > CONTROLS > STEERING

Steering

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Please take note of this vitally important information with regards to proper position and use of the steering wheel of your vehicle.

? Questions:

Defensive Controls Steering

Hand position:

  • NB: For vehicles with an airbag, DO NOT use the 10-2 o'clock positions on the wheel as your arms will get in the way of the airbag being deployed which could lead to the breakage of your arms and/or your hands as projectiles into your face.

  • Use the 9-3 or 8-4 o' clock positions. This will keep your hands and arms out of the way of the airbag and is also where the steering controls on modern cars are located.

Steering Techniques:

  • Overarm:

  •       Only use at lower speeds or when reversing.

  •       Bear in mind that when your arm covers the area of the            airbag, you are in danger if the airbag should be deployed.

  • Sliding:

  •       At higher speeds, do not use the overarm technique. Use          the sliding technique, keeping your hands on the side of          the steering and out of the way of the airbag.

  •       The higher the speed of the vehicle, the finer, or smaller,             and slower the adjustments of the steering need to be.

  •       This technique gives you finer control over the steering              which is better at higher speeds, as per the point above.

Understeer:

This happens when in a turn, the front tires lose grip so that the vehicle starts traveling in a straight line instead of turning. In other words the vehicle doesn't steer enough (or understeers) to be able to take the turn.

  • Causes:

  •       Turning the steering to quickly, or too much for the speed        the vehicle is traveling.

  •       The traction on the front of the vehicle is less than the                back and so the front breaks away or loses grip.

  •       Accelerating too much with a front wheel drive vehicle              while in the turn.

  •       Slippery road surface.

  • Correcting:

  •       Easing off the throttle which will transfer weight of the              vehicle forward pressing the front tires down on the road          and improving grip.

  •       Turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. This is        counterintuitive and a person would instinctively want to          force the car to rotate by turning the steering even more          in the direction away from the slide, however by doing              this, the front tires have even less chance to grip again.

Oversteer:

Oversteer takes place when in a turn, the back tires lose grip and the rear of the vehicles slides toward the outer side of the bend. This causes the car to turn too much (or oversteer) into the corner.

  • Causes:

  •       Accelerating too much while in the corner with a rear-                wheel-drive vehicle.

  •       Lifting off the throttle suddenly while in a turn such that            the weight transfers to the front of the vehicle, decreasing        the downward force of the rear tires onto the road.

  •       Excessive braking so that once again weight is transferred        to the front of the vehicle and thereby reducing the                    downward pressure of the rear wheels onto the road.

  • Correcting:

  •       There is not much you can do with the throttle to correct          the slide and all your attention will be best used to focus            on corrective steering instead.

  •       Once again turn the steering wheel in the direction of the        slide.

  •       The quicker you can respond to the slide the better                    because the larger the angle of the slide becomes the                more the rotation of the steering wheel in the direction of        the slide needs to be.

  •       Beware of overcorrecting, which can be more disastrous            than the initial slide. See point below:

Overcorrecting:

  • Cause:

  •       The danger when correcting a problem with oversteer is            that an inexperienced driver will tend to overcorrect. This          will cause the back of the vehicle to start sliding in the                opposite direction. The driver then overcorrects for that              and the vehicle once again starts sliding in the opposite            direction again. This continues and with each                                overcorrection the slide becomes greater and greater                until the vehicle finally loses control.

  • Preventing:

  •      Much as it will go against your natural instincts, do not               overcorrect which will be more dangerous than the initial         slide.

  •      Try to keep the front wheels facing the direction of the               slide.

  •      As the back of the vehicle starts to gain traction again and       straightens out, lessen the correction on the steering                 wheel and straighten out the steering, making sure you             don't turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction.             This is the key to prevent overcorrecting and that is to                 straighten out the steering as the vehicle itself straightens       out. It is when the driver keeps the steering turned as the         vehicle straightens out that the overcorrecting takes place.

Can steering wheel lock while driving?

In most modern vehicles, the steering wheel is designed with safety mechanisms to prevent it from locking while driving. However, there are situations where the steering wheel can become difficult to turn or seem locked. Here are a few possible reasons:

  • Power Steering Failure: If your vehicle has power steering and there is a failure in the power steering system, the steering wheel may become harder to turn. This can give the sensation of the wheel being locked, although it is not actually locked. In this case, you will need to use more force to turn the wheel and safely bring the vehicle to a stop.

  • Ignition Lock Cylinder Issue: Some vehicles have a mechanism that locks the steering wheel when the ignition is turned off to prevent theft. If you attempt to turn the steering wheel while the ignition lock is engaged, it may feel locked. To unlock it, simply insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the "on" position while gently turning the steering wheel at the same time. This should release the steering wheel lock.

  • Malfunctioning Steering Column: In rare cases, a malfunction or mechanical issue within the steering column can cause the steering wheel to become difficult to turn or feel locked. If you suspect a problem with the steering column, it is recommended to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic.

If you experience a sudden and complete loss of steering control while driving, it is an emergency situation. In such cases, it is important to stay calm, activate your hazard lights, and safely bring the vehicle to a stop on the side of the road. Seek professional assistance to diagnose and rectify the issue before driving the vehicle again.

Why steering wheel feels stiff?

A stiff or difficult-to-turn steering wheel can be caused by various factors. Here are some possible reasons:

  • Low Power Steering Fluid: Insufficient power steering fluid can result in a stiff steering wheel. Check the power steering fluid level and add more if needed, following the instructions in your vehicle's manual. Be sure to use the recommended type of power steering fluid.

  • Power Steering System Issues: Problems with the power steering system, such as a malfunctioning pump, belt, or hydraulic lines, can cause a stiff steering wheel. If you suspect an issue with the power steering system, it is advisable to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic.

  • Tire Issues: Improperly inflated tires or uneven tire pressure can affect steering performance. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated to the recommended levels specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Also, check for any tire damage or uneven wear that could impact the steering.

  • Alignment Problems: Improper wheel alignment can cause the steering to feel stiff or unresponsive. If you notice persistent stiffness in the steering wheel, it may be worth having the wheel alignment checked and adjusted by a professional.

  • Mechanical Issues: There could be mechanical issues within the steering system, such as a worn steering gearbox or linkage components, that lead to a stiff steering wheel. In such cases, it is best to have a qualified mechanic inspect and repair the specific problem.

It's important to address a stiff steering wheel promptly as it can affect your ability to control the vehicle safely. If you experience sudden and significant difficulty in steering, it is recommended to pull over and have your vehicle inspected by a professional.

Why steering wheel feels stiff?

A stiff or difficult-to-turn steering wheel can be caused by various factors. Here are some possible reasons:

  • Low Power Steering Fluid: Insufficient power steering fluid can result in a stiff steering wheel. Check the power steering fluid level and add more if needed, following the instructions in your vehicle's manual. Be sure to use the recommended type of power steering fluid.

  • Power Steering System Issues: Problems with the power steering system, such as a malfunctioning pump, belt, or hydraulic lines, can cause a stiff steering wheel. If you suspect an issue with the power steering system, it is advisable to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic.

  • Tire Issues: Improperly inflated tires or uneven tire pressure can affect steering performance. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated to the recommended levels specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Also, check for any tire damage or uneven wear that could impact the steering.

  • Alignment Problems: Improper wheel alignment can cause the steering to feel stiff or unresponsive. If you notice persistent stiffness in the steering wheel, it may be worth having the wheel alignment checked and adjusted by a professional.

  • Mechanical Issues: There could be mechanical issues within the steering system, such as a worn steering gearbox or linkage components, that lead to a stiff steering wheel. In such cases, it is best to have a qualified mechanic inspect and repair the specific problem.

It's important to address a stiff steering wheel promptly as it can affect your ability to control the vehicle safely. If you experience sudden and significant difficulty in steering, it is recommended to pull over and have your vehicle inspected by a professional.

Are steering wheel covers safe?

Steering wheel covers can be safe if they are properly installed and used correctly. Here are a few considerations:

  • Proper Fit: Ensure that the steering wheel cover is the correct size for your specific vehicle's steering wheel. A properly fitted cover should be snug and not slip or move around during use. A loose or ill-fitting cover can interfere with your grip on the wheel and potentially impede your ability to steer properly.

  • Material and Texture: Choose a steering wheel cover made of a material that provides a comfortable and secure grip. Many covers are made of materials like leather, synthetic leather, or rubber with textures designed to enhance grip. Avoid covers that are excessively slippery, as they may reduce your control over the steering wheel.

  • Installation: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the steering wheel cover properly. Make sure it is securely in place and does not obstruct any essential controls or buttons on the steering wheel, such as airbag deployment mechanisms or horn buttons.

  • Maintenance and Cleaning: Regularly clean and maintain the steering wheel cover to prevent the accumulation of dirt, oils, or other substances that may make it slippery or affect your grip. Use appropriate cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Personal Preference: It's important to consider personal preference and comfort when selecting a steering wheel cover. Some individuals may find that a cover improves their grip and overall driving experience, while others may prefer the feel of the steering wheel without a cover.

Always remember that maintaining proper control and grip on the steering wheel is crucial for safe driving. If you find that a steering wheel cover affects your ability to grip or maneuver the wheel comfortably, it is advisable to remove it or consider an alternative option.

Are steering wheel knobs illegal?

The legality of steering wheel knobs, also known as spinner knobs or steering aids, can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In many places, the use of steering wheel knobs is permitted as long as they do not obstruct the driver's view or interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle.

However, it's important to note that some jurisdictions may have specific regulations or restrictions on the use of steering wheel knobs. For example, commercial vehicles or vehicles used for certain purposes may have specific guidelines regarding the use of additional steering aids.

To ensure compliance with the local laws and regulations, it is recommended to consult the specific traffic laws and regulations of your jurisdiction or seek guidance from local authorities or transportation agencies. They will be able to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the legality of steering wheel knobs in your area.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving