How Steering Wheel Controls Work

By Subodh / February 1, 2015

While a car is meant for transportation needs, not everyone buys vehicles with only transport needs in mind. A car is more of an extension of their personality and taste for them. This explains why some people go to any length to accessorize their sedans and SUVS with both company built and after market spares and equipments. This is applicable both for parts used on the exterior and cabin of the car. They can even accessorize steering wheels and seats based on their wish.

Importance of Steering Wheel Controls

Steering wheel is used for driving the car but nowadays, it also serves other purposes for car owners and drivers! A number of cars, both sedans and hatchbacks come with factory fitted steering controls. These controls are used for controlling media playback on a DVD player or car stereo player. Apart from that, steering mounted controls are also used for activating air conditioner and in-car amenities. You can find cruise control and radio tuner switches mounted on the steering wheel itself.

Steering Wheel

These controls make driving car both convenient and comfortable. The driver need not reach out to the dashboard for controlling song playback or changing AC temperature if the controls are present in the steering wheel. He can keep his eyes on the road and adjust those settings as and when required. Even when you drive in urban traffic or on congested roads, controlling these amenities becomes easier. At times, taking one hand off the steering even for a few seconds can prove to be risky. There will always be situations like kids or pets getting in front of the car. In such events, even a fraction of a second is vital for saving life and vice versa.

There is hardly anyone who does not use mobile phones today. However, talking on the phone using hands while you drive the car can be quite risky. Steering mounted wireless controls let you answer calls via Bluetooth enabled headsets without even picking up the phone. GPS navigation options are also available in steering controls in high end sedans and luxury cars nowadays.

The Way Steering Wheel Mounted Controls Work

The controls fitted on your car’s steering work in 2 ways- wired and wireless. Some controls are connected to the respective section on the dashboard through wires and other settings, including a radio tuner and Bluetooth controls work wirelessly. The controls are placed on the wheel in such a way that you can reach them fast without requiring shifting your eyes on the road. These controls often have backlight illumination to aid night driving. With time, you get used to these controls and operating them even without looking at them become simple.

Factory Fitted And Aftermarket Steering Controls

Leading car makers like Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi offer their models with pre built steering wheel controls. While these may suffice the need for majority of users, there are others who opt for aftermarket spares for steering controls. You can find some companies offering steering-wheel-mounted remote controls for their stereo sets.

Advancements Seen In steering Control Technology

With time, everything related to car technology is changing and people are availing features that were deemed as science fiction even a few decades ago. This is applicable for technology used in steering mounted controls as well. With time, steering mounted controls are becoming smaller and more versatile in nature.

A lot of present generation cars have steering mounted cruise control system. Now, there are sensors on front side bumpers of cars that adjust speed automatically based on its distance from the car in front of it. This feature, known as adaptive cruise control is available in most mid to high end cars. Steering wheel based cruise controls include buttons for manual adjustment of car speed.

Some of the sedans and hybrid cars from the stables of giants like Nissan and Ford come with on board computer controlled system that can interact with steering wheel controls. You can use specific steering wheel controls to see the information related to the car’s speed, fuel, climate and engine state, etc. With companies like Microsoft offering its state of the art voice-activated SYNC for use in cars, you can do a lot more with steering wheels than just driving the car.