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What are the Different Types of Steering Wheel Covers?

Paulla Estes
Updated May 17, 2024
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Steering wheel covers are accessories used to change or improve the comfort, grip, or look of a steering while in a motor vehicle. They can be found in just about every color, design, and material, but they were originally designed with race car drivers in mind. These covers were first created to enhance the grip of the steering wheel in a car built for racing. The factory-made steering wheel on race cars was made with a narrow, plastic rim; when this was replaced with a tough but cushioned leather cover, grip was improved, and with it, the handling of the car. Many drivers claim that comfort is the only appeal of steering wheel covers, but studies have shown that leather is much easier to grip than plastic.

When race car driving took off, steering wheel covers were suddenly in demand by the general car-driving public. Leather was the first, obvious choice, but creativity reigned and suddenly there was an onslaught of designs to please every whim, fancy, or taste. Some were created to protect the driver from a steering wheel that became hot from sitting too long in the sun. Soon, fur covers became popular, with fur in multiple colors, but this style is only for decorative purposes, as fur actually makes the steering wheel harder to grip.

Today, while fur and leather are widely used for steering wheel covers, there are also hard covers, such as wood and chrome. When wood or chrome is used, it is clipped over the wheel as a large ring. Covers can also be found to celebrate sports teams, movie scenes, music preferences, and favorite colors. Designs are numerous, with everything from floral to Gothic, and of course there are covers that depict favorite race car drivers.

Steering wheel covers should never interfere with safety or with the deployment of the airbag behind the steering wheel. Anyone who is considering adding one should check with the car's manufacturer or in the owner's manual to find out about safety requirements.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Paulla Estes
By Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Paulla appreciates the flexibility and consistency that comes with contributing to WiseGeek. She relishes the opportunity to continuously learn new things while crafting informative and engaging articles for readers.
Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Jun 27, 2014

@Scrbblechick -- I *hate* the big, furry covers! They are so tacky! I used to have a lace-up black cover for my first car -- a 1977 Maverick. The steering wheel was hard plastic and no matter what I did, it would get hot in the summertime. If it rained or was really humid, the wheel would get sticky on the surface. A cover took care of all that.

To me, the main reason to have a steering wheel cover is to keep the sun from shining down on it in hot weather, but a sun shade does just as well for that, and also protects the dash.

By Scrbblchick — On Jun 26, 2014

I can almost tell the age and gender of the driver by the steering wheel cover, if there is one. If it's the standard, lace-on leather kind, and it matches the interior, the driver is probably over 35, could be either gender. If it's embellished, or has the car's logo on it, the driver is male, and between 25 and 35.

The furry slip on kind usually denotes a female under 30, and probably under 25. A pink, purple, zebra striped or leopard print cover confirms this.

I don't get the furry cover thing. I would think it would interfere with my handling the car properly. There is a tactile element, and you'd lose that with a furry cover, I'd think.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George...
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