Are Steering Wheel Covers Dangerous to Use?

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A person installing a steering wheel cover in his car

As time goes on, people pinpoint more accessories in your car that can lead to unsafe driving. Are steering wheel covers one of these accessories? These covers are meant to make driving more comfortable, but are they dangerous to use?

Steering wheel covers are not dangerous to use. As long as the cover is properly fitted, the correct size, from a trusted manufacturer, and installed correctly, they’re safe for anyone to use. The problem arises when the cover is too large or loose on your steering wheel. This leads to slippage which is highly dangerous.

In an effort to answer this question, I did some research. In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about steering wheel covers and give you some facts about their use. By the end, you’ll know exactly how safe they are.

What’s a Steering Wheel Cover?

If you didn’t know, you can buy an aftermarket cover that goes over your steering wheel. They’re made from a variety of different materials, but their purpose is similar: these covers should make driving more comfortable while adding a level of personality to your car.

Multiple steering wheel covers of various sorts at the store

These covers slip right over your wheel and then tighten (one way or another) around the wheel. Instead of grabbing your steering wheel when you drive, you’re only grabbing this cover that is sitting on top of your wheel.

Why People Use Steering Wheel Covers

Before getting into the potential dangers, I want to talk about why steering wheel covers are used in the first place. People seem to be pretty torn about whether covers are viable or not. At any rate, here are the reasons why people use them:

Accessorize Your Ride

The steering wheel is a centerpiece in your cabin. To stand out and show your personality, you can throw a customized cover over the wheel.

You can find a fur option that adds luxury, a leather cover that makes the ride more professional, or a patterned cover that makes the inside of your car look more fun.

Since there are so many options on the market, people have the ability to accessorize and customize their cars.

Hides a Scratched Wheel

There are some people who have steering wheels that have gone through the wringer. Scratches, wear marks, and bunched material on your wheel can hurt the overall appearance of your car.

Old worn out steering wheel close up

Instead of replacing the steering wheel, you can just get a cover.

This cover will mask all the imperfections on your steering wheel and boost the appearance of your cabin.

Helps with Hand Fatigue

Plastic steering wheels can make your hands cramp up over time. If you put a more comfortable material over your stock steering wheel, you will minimize this effect.

This might seem like a strange effect, but I’ve personally experienced hand fatigue from driving with a bad steering wheel. It can make a road trip borderline unbearable.

A cover can act like Dr. Scholl’s shoe insert. Instead of dealing with the hard steering wheel, you’ll be grabbing a handful of comfortable material.

Can Keep Your Hands Warm

For drivers who live in the Northeast, cold hands can be very distracting during a harsh winter. Even after your car idles for a little bit and warms up, the steering wheel can still be freezing cold. Some vehicles even offer heated steering wheels.

Close up of the heated steering wheel button in a Land Rover Evoque

Driving with gloves or mittens on can be very dangerous since the wheel can slip away from you while you’re driving. Ditch the gloves and opt for an insulated or furry cover.

This won’t eliminate the need to warm up your car, but it will allow you to take off your gloves while you drive.

When Steering Wheel Covers are Dangerous

Even though there are a lot of benefits to using a steering wheel cover, there are some potentially dangerous side effects. These aren’t true for every option on the market, but each scenario is very dangerous.

They’re Improperly Sized

Not all steering wheels are the same. Different manufacturers will opt for varying thicknesses, diameters, and shapes for their steering wheels.

As a result, it’s easy to pick a steering wheel cover that doesn’t quite fit. It might seem “close enough” when you’re installing it, but that can create a very dangerous scenario in the future.

A person comparing the steering wheel cover to the steering wheel of the car

If you have a cover that’s too large, it’s going to slip. As you grip the cover and turn your wheel, the cover can slip around the wheel. As a result, you’re not actually turning your steering wheel, you’re just spinning the cover.

Here’s a likely scenario: You’re driving along, and someone pulls out in front of you. You quickly turn your steering wheel to avoid hitting them. Instead, your improperly-sized cover rotates, your steering wheel doesn’t move, and you collide with their car.

They Weren’t Installed Correctly

Even if you get a cover that’s the right size, there’s an ability to install the cover incorrectly. This might mean that clasps weren’t tightened, buttons weren’t used, or the cover is oriented incorrectly. When this happens, you can get the same slipping that I just described.

It’s important to carefully read the instructions which will come with your cover. Even if it seems like a simple installation, missing a crucial step can put your life in danger.

The Material Is Slippery

If you’re buying the cover online, you need to carefully find out what material is being used. It’s not uncommon for a manufacturer to choose a slippery option for making their cover.

Certain faux leathers will seem fine until you try driving with sweaty palms and they slide around.

Close up of a male hand on the steering wheel

Like the other potential dangers, this is a matter of slipping. The cover needs to offer enough friction so that you can still move the steering wheel.

If your cover is super slippery, you might as well just take your steering wheel out of your car before driving — that’s the same level of maneuverability you’ll have.

Low-Quality Options Can Fail

It might seem strange to consider a steering wheel cover “failing”, but it’s a real possibility. This might refer to the cover falling apart, getting bunched up, or the fasteners failing which allows the cover to slip.

The last thing you want is a cover that tears or falls apart as you’re in the middle of a turn. That’s a quick way to crash your car.

Increases the Thickness of the Wheel

After adding a cover to your steering wheel, the wheel will be thicker. That might not seem like a big deal, but it might make the wheel unmanageable, especially for people with smaller hands.

A close up of a man installing the steering wheel cover

These covers are supposed to help with fatigue, but they can easily cause discomfort and fatigue if they’re too thick.

This is usually the case with fuzzy covers. The added fuzz can dramatically increase the thickness of the part of the wheel you need to grab.

They Cover the Horn Section of the Wheel

Do not install any steering wheel cover that goes into the center portion of your wheel. This is where your airbag is located. If the path of your airbag is impeded, a series of equally-bad things can happen.

You’re risking your life in the case of an accident if you have one of these covers on.

It’s also worth mentioning that the center of your steering wheel should never be accessorized. Added gemstones or plaques will act as shrapnel when your airbag deploys.

Are Steering Wheel Covers for Everyone?

Using a steering wheel cover ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you’re content with your current steering wheel, there’s no reason to add a cover on top of it.

For others, it’s an inexpensive way to add a little flair to their car while making the steering wheel more comfortable to use.

There’s also a lot of versatility within the world of steering wheel covers. You can choose from a pink fuzzy cover, a black leather cover, or one with your favorite football team on it, and every option in-between.

Valleycomfy Steering Wheel Cover Universal 15 in. – Genuine Leather, Breathable, Anti Slip & Odor Free – Black with Blue Lines – 14.5 in. -15.25 in.

Valleycomfy Steering Wheel Covers Universal 15 in. - Genuine Leather, Breathable, Anti Slip & Odor Free - Black with Blue Lines - 14.5 in. -15.25 in.
Valleycomfy Steering Wheel Cover Universal

As far as aftermarket car products go, steering wheel covers are amongst the most popular options.

Personally, I feel like there’s an option for every type of driver. If you want to get a cover, I’m sure that you’ll find an option that matches your preference.

The only stipulation is that it has to fit your steering wheel perfectly. For exotic or rare cars, you might be hard-pressed to find a cover that works.

Are Steering Wheel Covers Dangerous to Use?

As you can see, there are some definite scenarios that make steering wheel covers dangerous. However, if you opt for a high-quality option that was designed specifically for your steering wheel, they’re not dangerous. For certain drivers, a cover can make driving a less dangerous experience.

Steering wheel covers are only dangerous when they’re not installed or selected correctly.

Conclusion

Steering wheel covers aren’t a dangerous addition to your car. I would suggest trying one out if you don’t like your current steering wheel. For more car guides, explore my website. Leave a comment below if you have a steering wheel cover on your car. Also, be sure to see what car care products I highly recommend.

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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