In my decade or so evaluating cars for living, I’ve been behind hundreds of steering wheels from virtually every automaker (check out our look at some of the coolest wheels on the market today). I’ve watched in both wonderment and horror as all manner of controls have multiplied on top of them, behind them, jutted out from them. Some have done it well, others, well, that wonderfully overused word FAIL comes to mind… One automaker who I think is doing a really nice job organizing its wheel controls these days is Hyundai, with our long term 2010 Hyundai Tucson’s helm a case in point. This is a really nicely designed set of controls that have proven both simple and effective and rest roughly at the 9 and 3 position, making it easy for thumbs to reach and operate. On your left are the audio/entertainment controls, with a knob that you push and hold up or down for volume, an up/down toggle to cycle through your presets, and a mode/mute button that quickly enables you … [Read more...] about Our Cars: 2010 Hyundai Tucson – Steering Wheel Controls Done Right
Steering wheel hard to turn
Whether you dig the Pro-Touring movement, and its attendant propensity for big g-force turns or not, you will at some point need to turn the corner. Even drag racers need to turn, and if your tires don’t mimic the directional input of the steering wheel, you, my friend, are in serious trouble. Virtually all muscle cars were equipped with recirculating ball and nut steering (sometimes called worm and sector). This type of steering box was almost universal in domestic cars through the 1980s; they’re simple, they work, and their universal nature means they’re compatible in cars of widely varying vintage (read: easy bolt-on). The original steering box in our ’75 Laguna project car is a recirculating ball-type box-no surprise there. It’s also no surprise that after 34 years, it’s a bit tired. A worn steering box can be dangerous-even fatal-if not rebuilt or replaced. Fortunately, worn steering boxes of this design have some pretty specific symptoms that … [Read more...] about 1975 Chevy Laguna – Yearn To Turn!
If you’re building a classic truck with a certain period in mind, it’s hard to argue the styling cues of a stock steering wheel. Back before they contained airbags shod in a giant rubber box, steering wheels had a sort of “je ne sais quoi” about them. If you’re drinking a Molson and swinging a hockey stick as you’re reading this on a frozen lake, chances are you know what that means. If, like me, you skipped French class altogether in high school, that translates loosely to, “I don’t know what” in English. Allow me to use it in a sentence. “That girl over there with the flat feet and overbite sure is cute. She just has a certain je ne sais quoi about her.” But enough with the French lesson. The point is OEM steering wheels are cool. However, oftentimes their styling suits our purpose, but the size does not. Most of the truck wheels were designed back when power steering meant you had forearms like a lumberjack and a … [Read more...] about Reclaiming A Stock Steering Wheel – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Increasingly, NASCAR is about people, not cars. If a brand of car has an advantage or a disadvantage, NASCAR, in its eternal quest to achieve parity of competition, changes the rules. So the time has come, it seems, particularly in NASCAR Winston Cup, that people are the difference-owners, drivers, pit crews, mechanics, engineers, and guys back at the shop. The edge must come from the physical and mental skills of the racers, and that’s never been more important. With that in mind, I was curious about what goes on at Human Performance International (HPI), located in Huntersville, North Carolina. HPI, directed by Dr. Jacques Dallaire, has been testing and evaluating drivers since 1983. “Races are won and lost by tenths or (sometimes) a few thousandths of a second,” says Canadian-born Dallaire, 46, who earned a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Alberta at Edmonton. “People are where you are going to find those differences-if not now, then in … [Read more...] about People Associated With Nascar – Driving Is More Than Grabbing The Steering Wheel
Hot, sunny days are fun, but they can turn the interior of your car into a broiler. Combined with minimal ventilation and decades-old materials this becomes not just uncomfortable, but actually damaging over the long-term. We’ve all seen those junkyard gems with a lot of potential, but they need almost an entire interior refurbishment due to the sun and elements. Those old steering wheels made of coated, formed polymer-materials are now long past their expiration date, and that covering is found chipped, broken, and cracked in most cases. Since Chrysler did many different steering wheel designs over the years, finding a correct, original replacement can get costly, and, if used, it might not have aged much better than what is already owned. Doug Lepak, is known as The Steering Wheel Guy, and has spent the last 20 years perfecting techniques that can bring your steering wheel back to like-new status. His company, based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, restores steering wheels for … [Read more...] about Restoring Factory Steering Wheels
touchscreen steering wheel. The wheel itself is a sheet of acrylic rimmed with infrared LEDs. A single infrared camera picks up reflections on the acrylic when touched, allowing a range of gestures to operate everything from the stereo to climate control. The notion is that the tech will allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road and off the various distractions in the cabin, but we're having a hard time swallowing that premise.Adding yet another screen to a vehicle and forcing drivers to learn a set of gestures for something as simple as turning up the volume or adjusting the air temperature is bound to only add confusion to the mix. Drivers haven't had any trouble manipulating the controls of their vehicles for decades now, so why bother reinventing the wheel? The good news is that the costs to develop and maintain a device like the touchscreen steering wheel are prohibitive enough to keep manufacturers from considering implementation. Check out the full report over at … [Read more...] about German researchers investigating touchscreen steering wheel
NASCAR always toes the line between entertainment and motorsport. Creating an end-of-season playoff, tweaking that formula, throwing "competition" yellow flags to bunch up the field - all variations on the same ruse of juicing television ratings with little regard to actual racing. And if there's any race where entertainment trumps competition, it's Talladega. The semi-annual race at NASCAR's biggest superspeedway, and one of its most storied tracks, has devolved into a high-speed demolition derby. Let's start with the finish at this year's Geico 500. Even the broadcast commentators are tired of the crashing at this point in the race. Thirty five of the 40 cars that took the green flag on Sunday were involved in some kind of incident. But hey, that's why you're watching, right? Talladega is always about the big one - a wreck that takes out most of the field.I'm not sure what's worse: the fact that every driver in the field has to suit up for this race knowing they will probably get … [Read more...] about Talladega race is crash-tastic, Dale Jr. loses steering wheel
Autonomous cars are seemingly right around the corner, and they’re bringing loads of new technology along with them. Depending on the level of autonomy, self-driving cars won’t need steering wheels or pedals, crazy right? Ford doesn’t think it’s that farfetched of an idea, as the automaker, according to Motor1, recently came out with a new patent for a driverless car with a removable steering wheel and pedals.As Motor1 reports, the automaker believes the patented system allows it to have a “steering wheel for development purposes, and enables the easy provision of a steering wheel as a customer-requested option.”The system is expected to work in a similar fashion to the way racing steering wheels work. The vehicle’s cabin has recesses with locking points for the steering wheel and pedals, which will be replaced with trim pieces when the items are not needed, hiding the connecting points.While one would assume that driver safety would be of … [Read more...] about Ford Files Patent For Removable Pedals, Steering Wheel For Driverless Cars
When BMW announced its latest M3 sedan and newly christened M4 coupe were making the switch from hydraulically assisted steering to electric boost, we almost jumped off our (single-story) building. But after being assured the move wouldn’t be the end of M car steering for good and being given a ride in the new M3 and M4, we avoided the plunge—but remained near the edge. Now, BMW has revealed more details and photos of its EPS improvements, so we’re revisiting this potential electric power-steering breakthrough.The 2015 M3 and M4’s steering systems follow the familiar EPS formula of placing an electrically driven ball-screw drive on the steering rack separate from the tooth-and-pinion connection to the steering column. Similar to BMW’s standard EPS, which beat its hydraulic counterpart in a steering-feel showdown test, the driver sets the steering angle; a torque sensor just behind the pinion determines how much electric boost is needed … [Read more...] about BMW Details How It Brought Feedback Into the Electric Power Steering Equation
On September 14th of last year, a participant in the “Rusty Wallace Racing Experience” at Kentucky Speedway crashed into first the inside track wall, then the SAFER barrier on the outside of the track. One week later, he died from the multiple and severe injuries he sustained in that crash.On Wednesday, the text of the lawsuit filed by his estate against multiple parties was released. The allegations contained in the lawsuit should horrify anyone who has ever considered participating in, or instructing for, one of these rent-a-stock-car “experiences”.The full text is available here but I will summarize the most disturbing allegations below:The quick-release steering wheel on the car provided to Mr. Cox wasn’t just carelessly installed after Cox got in the car – it was on backwards. This is possible with some of the cheaper circle-track equipment and indeed when I went circle-tracking back in 2009 or so I once had my crew do it to me.The position of … [Read more...] about “The Steering Wheel Came Off In His Hands”