Steering wheel covers - types of covers and how to choose them
Steering wheel covers are the most popular interior accessories. No wonder, because the driver constantly comes into contact with the steering wheel: you want the steering wheel to be comfortable, beautiful, and pleasant to the touch. A case is the easiest way to improve the steering wheel of the car.
Why do you need a steering wheel cover?
Owners of expensive cars with comfortable ergonomic steering wheels covered with leather usually doubt the usefulness of a steering wheel cover. And that is only until the steering wheel begins to fray. In the low-budget segment of cars, everything is initially bad: cheap steering wheels made from plastic and polyurethane are, in most cases, thin, slippery, quite rough and ugly. That is why drivers improve their own steering wheels with covers and braids.
The steering wheel braid has several important functions. We can divide them into decorative and practical functions.
Decorative functions of the steering wheel braid:
- Improves the appearance of a simple polyurethane steering wheel (or already frayed leather) with minimal investment. It is expensive to re-stitch the steering wheel in the studio, while a steering wheel cover is not so expensive, but it also looks beautiful and performs the same functions.
- It is possible to decorate the interior in a single style by assembling a harmonious set of steering wheel covers, seat covers, mats and other interior accessories.
Practical functions of the steering wheel cover:
- More comfortable handlebar grip due to increased rim thickness.
- Less sweaty and slippery hands in the summer thanks to the perforations, relief and special material in the grip areas.
- Comfortable operation: the cloth cover is less hot in the summer and less frosty in the winter than the steering wheel.
- Protects the factory-applied steering wheel from abrasion during use.
On the last point, it is worth to dwell in detail. It is not a secret that the external condition of the steering wheel is one of the main indicators of the mileage of the car. A frayed or overstitched steering wheel means that the car has run many kilometers. And the quality of the finishing materials in modern cars is such that the steering wheel can wear out after a couple of years of active use, which will create problems with the future sale of the car. The steering wheel cover allows you to keep the steering wheel in excellent condition and not lose on the price of the car.
How to choose a steering wheel cover
In addition to subjective factors (design, color, finishing material), the main objective factor in choosing a cover is the size of the steering wheel.
The size of the covers:
Depending on the diameter of the car’s steering wheel, covers are divided into 4 sizes:
S – 35 to 37 cm (13.8 to 14.6 inch);
M – 37 to 39 cm (14.6 to 15.3 inch);
L – 39 to 41 cm (15.3 to 16.1 inch);
XL – 41 to 43 cm (16.1 to 16.9 inch).
To determine the appropriate size for the cover, take a tape measure and measure the diameter of the steering wheel from one edge of the rim to the other. Sometimes they also measure the thickness of the rim, but that only makes sense if you are reupholstering the steering wheel. To choose a regular cover, all you need to know is the diameter. Some stores write the exact size of the cover, so all you need to do is measure your steering wheel and make your purchase.
Steering wheel covers are also sometimes sold by model, but we still recommend that you measure your steering wheel before you buy, to make sure that the product will fit your car.
Materials of steering wheel covers
Steering wheel covers are made of mechanically abrasion-resistant materials: eco-leather, Alcantara and synthetic fabrics. The inner part of the cover is usually glued with a grooved rubberized layer for a secure fixation on the rim.
Soft but durable eco-leather is great for steering wheel covers. With the texture of natural leather (aniline, crocodile leather, etc.), such a cover looks much more expensive than it actually costs. And the high wear resistance allows eco-leather to retain its noble appearance for a long time. Eco-leather is often perforated, which additionally increases the tactile comfort.
Alcantara, also known as faux suede, is a velvety material that is pleasant to the touch at any air temperature. Alcantara is often used for padded inserts, combined with eco-leather backing. The material does not burn out in the sun, consistently retaining its original color.
Other features of the covers
The steering wheel cover may have additional design features:
- Grip Inserts - More wear-resistant material inserts in the grip areas help keep your hands from slipping and reduce wear and tear on the cover.
- Sponge pads - soft, voluminous thickening on the rim conforms to the shape of your hands, increasing driving comfort and reducing fatigue.
- Perforations - thin ventilation holes in the cover material make it breathable, which reduces hand sweating.
- Stitching - additional stitching by thread (usually colored) increases the durability of the cover and is an interesting design element.
- Ribbed ribs - a slight relief on the surface of the cover makes the grip more accurate, which helps with active steering.
- Heating - built-in electric heating allows you to warm up the cover before driving.
How to install the cover on the steering wheel
Putting the cover on the steering wheel, what could be easier? But there are subtleties even in such an operation - without knowing them, the steering wheel cover is often torn before use, right during the installation. The difficulty is that the cover is put on the steering wheel rather tightly so as not to slip on the rim. Therefore, its installation requires a certain physical effort and compliance with a number of rules:
- Never install the steering wheel cover in freezing temperatures. Low temperatures reduce the elasticity of the material, preventing it from stretching - it will immediately tear when you try to put a cold cover on the handlebars.
- Do not use oil or grease when installing the cover - it may damage both the cover and the steering wheel, and cause the cover to slip on the rim. If the size of the cover is adjusted to the bottom and it is very difficult to put it on, use a soapy solution or treat the steering wheel rim with plastic polish.
- If the cover slips on the steering wheel too easily, the size may be wrong - it is better to exchange it for a smaller one. As a last resort, you may glue a few cross strips of thin double-sided tape on the inside to secure the cover to the rim.
- Start by placing the cover at the top of the steering wheel and gradually work your way down, stretching the edges evenly.
- Position the seam of the cover at the lowest point of the steering wheel.
Good luck on the road, drivers.
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