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What Is a Removable Steering Wheel?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A removable steering wheel is used to thwart a car thief and aid in the prevention of vehicle loss. Commonly attached to the vehicle's steering column with a custom releasable hub, the removable steering wheel is easily carried with the vehicle owner when the car is parked or can commonly be stored in the trunk of the vehicle. While there are several different manufacturers of the removable steering wheel, most include a custom high-visibility cover to place over the steering column when the wheel is removed. This cover is intended to alert a would-be car thief that the vehicle will be un-drivable should he attempt to proceed with a theft.

One thing for individuals to consider when debating the purchase of a removable steering wheel is that it is illegal in most areas to replace an air-bag equipped steering wheel with a non air bag-equipped wheel. While there are several manufacturers that market an air bag-equipped removable steering wheel, they can be very costly and difficult to install. If choosing to install one of these kits in a vehicle, it is best left to a professional. There are also other laws that directly impact the installation of a removable steering wheel that must be investigated prior to installing a kit on any vehicle.

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For the most part, racing-type quick-release steering wheels are not legal on street-driven vehicles. This type of unit incorporates a hex or splined spindle that welds onto the existing steering shaft once the steering wheel has been removed. The hub attaches to the steering wheel by three bolts and slides over the steering shaft spindle and is released by depressing a pin on the side of the hub. In order for a removable steering wheel to be street-legal in most areas, the hub must require a key to turn the locking mechanism that releases the steering wheel from the steering shaft.

Another consideration prior to purchasing a kit for any vehicle is that most release kits place the steering wheel closer to the driver in any given vehicle. This is not a problem in all cases, however, it can be a problem in vehicles with a cramped driver's compartment. A quality release kit will also incorporate a steering column cover that protects and hides the exposed steering shaft when the removable steering wheel is off of the column. This prevents a determined thief from using another implement such as locking pliers to steer the vehicle.

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Soulfox
Post 2

@Vincenzo -- I sort of agree with you about removable steering wheels. I think that one that is installed correctly is quite easy to attach safely. No concerns there.

What is a concern is that some people buy those aftermarket quick release steering wheel kits and try to install those things themselves. If you mess up the installation of that kit, then you will be in serious trouble and could wreck your car.

That being the case, go ahead and get a detachable steering wheel as a theft protection method is you want, but get a professional to install it.

Vincenzo
Post 1

I just can't buy into the idea of getting a removable steering wheel for safety reasons. Unless that steering wheel is attached just right, you will have no control over your car. That is a real concern for something that can barrel down the Interstate at speeds that will all but guarantee you will die horribly if you get into a wreck.

Honestly, I would simply leave that stock steering wheel along and go for one of those "bar" things that locks the steering wheel down so the car can't be steered at all.

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