What Is a Quick-Release Steering Wheel? And is it Safe?

A quick-release steering wheel can be convenient, but is it safe? We explore the pros and cons and give you our take on whether or not you should consider one.

Quick Release Steering Wheel

If you haven’t heard of the quick-release steering wheel, you are missing out on a fun accessory. This performance aftermarket part has many purposes and it looks good.

In this guide, we look at what the quick-release steering wheel. We also examine the pros and cons of it while discussing whether it is safe or not. 

What is a Quick-Release Steering Wheel?

The quick-release steering wheel is a performance aftermarket part that detaches quickly from the steering column. Instead of being attached with a hidden nut, the quick-release wheel is attached with pins, push or pull rings and cams. Many of these steering wheels are universal on race cars.

In the race car, the quick-release wheel is used for emergency purposes. It can be detached quickly in an emergency, so the driver can escape the vehicle. Considering many drivers have to contend with race suits and helmets, anything that makes the escape easier is a plus. 

However, the quick-release wheel has also grown in popularity among everyday drivers. There are many reasons drivers consider upgrading to this aftermarket part. 

Quick-Release Steering Wheel Pros

1. Race Car Feel

While these wheels are popular among race car drivers, you don’t have to be one to enjoy the benefits. Many performance-focused cars would benefit from having the quick-release option.

As a gearhead, you might like to make your car look like a racing machine, so every accessory matters. Just imagine how much more performance-minded your WRX or Honda Civic could be. 

2. Increased Aesthetic Appeal

Even if you don’t drive a performance automobile, the steering wheel upgrade can still add some curb appeal. With various designs to choose from, it’s easy to add this to the list of aftermarket equipment you use for a new look.

When combined with other accessories, such as a new gear shifter, you may even be able to increase the value of the vehicle. Plus, the lighter weight means slightly more acceleration, although probably nothing too noticeable. 

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3. Quick Escape

No one wants to think about what happens when an accident occurs, but you must. If you were to get into an accident, you wouldn’t want something as simple as the steering wheel keeping you trapped in the car.

With the detachable steering wheel, you could free yourself from these situations. If you pay a little extra, you may even be able to push a button for quick detaching. 

4. Added Security

Every car needs a steering wheel to drive. Therefore, if there’s no steering wheel, it would be nearly impossible to steal the vehicle.

For starters, anyone looking in the car to determine if it’s a good candidate is going to move on to the next vehicle. They aren’t going to want to invest the time in figuring out what’s going on. Just remember to put the pin in a safe place when you take the wheel off, or you will have trouble reattaching it. 

Quick-Release Steering Wheel Cons

1. Loosen Over Time

Because the steering wheel is made differently, it may not be as reliable over time. After many disconnections and reconnections, the parts could loosen.

What you might notice is a ride that’s not as precise. If that bothers you, the only remedy would be to replace it when this happens, thereby costing you more money. 

2. More Components

There are more parts involved with the quick-release steering wheel. For example, there’s a hub with this steering wheel that is located beneath it. It’s heavy and is prone to becoming loose over time. There’s also the quick-release apparatus to contend with. You can find different styles, all of which have their own set of pros and cons to consider.

You also have to give consideration to the connectors that are being used. Depending on what type you choose, the parts could be looser sooner than you hope for. 

For these reasons, you have higher repair bills if something should go wrong or if you need to replace it. Someone must have the experience to work on these steering wheels. Therefore, if you can’t do it yourself, you will pay a premium price for the labor. It can also take more time to remedy any situations that arise, which will further be added to the bill.

3. Legal Parameters

Quick-release wheels might be growing in popularity, but that doesn’t make them legal everywhere you drive. In fact, if you live in California or New York, you could face some problems by upgrading to a quick-release variant. 

It’s best to check your local laws and talk to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles before making any aftermarket modifications such as this one. Otherwise, all your hard work and money could be thrown out the window and you could be faced with a hefty fine for the violation. 

Are Quick-Release Steering Wheels Safe?

When you install a quick-release steering wheel, you are removing the air bag that is in your OEM wheel. For this reason, it’s considered unsafe to use the aftermarket wheel. If you were to get into an accident, it’s possible that you could bang your head off of the steering wheel, which is what the air bag is supposed to prevent.

However, many people driving daily with a removable wheel say that they have been in accidents and never touched the steering wheel. In those cases, the driver was sitting far enough from the wheel and the seatbelt did its job. 

The other safety aspect to consider is the possibility of the wheel coming off while you are driving. Defective parts could make this a reality, leaving you to hold the wheel while you are heading down the road. While this might be humorous in cartoons, it’s nothing to joke about on a busy highway. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to buy a reliable quick-release wheel and have a professional install it.

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Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.