The Basics: How to set up your car steering wheel

The Basics: How to set up your car steering wheel


To have optimal control of your vehicle when you’re on the road, it’s essential to set up your car’s steering wheel to be safe and comfortable for you as the driver.

Each driver will require a different steering wheel position depending on their height, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to adjust the steering wheel to suit you.

Setting up the steering wheel is part of the cockpit drill, so your driving instructor will show you how to do this during one of your first driving lessons. 

Whether you’re hoping to learn to drive or looking to revise what you’ve already learned, this guide will tell you everything you need to know. 

At Bill Plant Driving School, we help thousands of drivers to learn to drive every year. We all start by learning the basics. So in this series, we’re covering everything your driving instructor will teach you in your first few driving lessons

What’s the optimal position for your car’s steering wheel?

To give yourself the safest and most comfortable driving experience, it’s important to adjust the car’s steering wheel to suit you. This won’t be the same for every driver, so make sure to check that your steering wheel is in the best position for you before setting off.

  • Height – The steering wheel height depends on the driver’s height and posture. When adjusting the steering wheel’s height, you should angle the wheel towards your chest rather than your head. In an accident, this will reduce your risk of injury. It should also be positioned to allow you to rest your hands on the steering wheel when you’re sitting fully back in your seat. You also don’t want to have your arms too high, as this can cause tension in your shoulders.
  • Depth – Your arms should be slightly bent when holding the steering wheel. If you find yourself moving forwards to reach the steering wheel, you will need to adjust the depth of the wheel. 

How close should you be to the steering wheel?

In the event of a collision, the airbag deploys at great speed and power. As you adjust the depth of your steering wheel, make sure that your breastbone sits at least 10 inches away from the centre of the wheel. This would allow for maximum protection if you were involved in an accident. 

What position should your hands be on the steering wheel?

There are two positions that you need to be aware of. Which hand position you choose is down to personal choice.

  • 10 and 2 – Place your left hand on the steering wheel at 10 o’clock and your right at 2 o’clock. Although your hands will move when you turn the wheel, this is the position they should rest. 
  • 9 and 3 – With this position, your left hand rests at 9 o’clock, while your right hand rests at 3 o’clock. This position is slightly more relaxed and should keep your arms relatively loose. 

Setting up a car steering wheel: step by step

Adjusting the steering wheel is simple, and all you need to use is one manual control. If you don’t properly adjust your wheel, you’ll find yourself getting uncomfortable, particularly when driving long distances. 

Take the following steps to make sure you’re in a comfortable and safe position when you drive: 

  1. Make sure you set up your car seat in the right position for you. The driver’s seat height should provide you with a clear view of the road ahead and behind, while you should adjust the seat position to allow you to press the pedals without moving in your seat. 
  2. Sit upright with your shoulders resting against the backrest and your head against the head restraint. 
  3. Pull the small lever on the steering column. Once the lever is down, you will be able to make adjustments. 
  4. Push or pull the steering wheel to change the depth. If the wheel is closer than 10 inches to your breastbone, you will need to push it further away. If it’s not close enough, you should pull it closer. 
  5. To adjust the steering wheel’s height, you’ll need to move it up or down. Make sure you angle the wheel towards your chest and that you can still see the control panel, or dashboard, in front of you. If the wheel blocks it, then you’ll need to make adjustments. 
  6. Once the steering wheel is in the right position for you, push the lever back up to rest flat against the steering column. 

You should never adjust your steering wheel while driving

You mustn’t adjust your steering wheel while driving. Doing so could cause you to lose control of the vehicle or even cause an accident. If you need to make adjustments, make sure to pull over to a safe place and only change the steering wheel’s position once the vehicle is stationary. 

Learn the basics with Bill Plant Driving School

Here at Bill Plant Driving School, we help thousands of people learn to drive safely every year. Whether you’re hoping to learn to drive a manual car or an automatic car, our driving instructors are here to help you get on the road. 

Your instructor will teach you everything you need to know, including how to start a car, move off and stop, and how to set up your car mirrors