Why is My Steering Wheel Hot?- Causes and Concerns

A heated steering wheel is a coveted feature during chilly winters, isn’t it? After all, it keeps our hands warm and comfy. But what about extremely hot regardless of the season – be it summer or winter? Of course, it would be a concern for underlying issues.

So, why is my steering wheel hot? In short, the reasons can be the impact of climate, engine heat, and the material of the steering wheel itself. Sometimes, heat from the engine compartment, electrical issues, or sunlight exposure for a long time can cause the issue.

The most difficult impact of a hot steering wheel is you cannot touch it or lose control over the vehicle. However, I will discuss everything about this matter in this discussion. You will learn about the reasons, impact, and solutions to them. I hope you have a couple of minutes to go through it.

Normal vs. Excessive Heating: Steering Temperature

The steering wheel’s temperature can rise, which is very usual. But to what extent it should be hot, do you know it?

I have researched this topic, but there is not enough information about a specific temperature range for a normal steering wheel. Thus, most experts suggest that this temperature should be within the normal operating range of the vehicle’s engine.

Till you get some symptoms of other issues, you can stay assured that the wheel’s temperature is in normal range. Also, if the steering wheel emits a burning smell, it indicates excessive heat and potential problems.

Let me give you some examples! If you are facing these issues and getting the steering wheel hot, you must know something is wrong in your vehicle.

Mismatched tires, insufficient lubrication, and incorrect alignment angles can cause steering issues (1,2,3). They may affect the steering wheel temperature. For instance, a misaligned wheel can cause the steering wheel to shake. It will cause limited control over the vehicle (4).

External Factors Causing a Hot Steering Wheel

Things related to the environment and weather can be the reasons for a hot steering wheel.

Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight is a major factor in causing steering wheels to become hot. It increases the heat in the vehicle’s interior (5). When you park your car in direct sunlight for an extended period, the sun’s rays can heat the steering wheel.

Season or External Temperature

Is it summer or autumn? Indeed, the temperature outside the vehicle also plays a role in turning the steering wheel hot. Think about summer! The heat can penetrate the car and heat various components. It will not leave your steering, particularly if you park the vehicle without shade.

What to Do

Sunshades or sun visors can help to cool the steering wheel by blocking direct sunlight (6,7). I have other suggestions besides this. Turn your car 180° when you park it in the sun on a hot day (8). You may also cover the steering wheel with a cardigan or an old T-shirt to avoid temperature increase (9).

Internal Factors for a Hot Steering Wheel

Besides external factors, internal issues within your car are primary reasons for increasing the steering wheel’s temperature.

Electrical Issues

Electrical problems within the power steering system can make the wheel heat up. Issues within the feedback and electromechanical assist portions of the system can cause this issue. Also, data-sharing problems between the EPS, ECM, ABS, and other system modules can be different reasons (10).

A hot steering wheel could also be a symptom of a failing electric power steering system. You may get a notification as an EPS warning light on the dashboard (11).

Sometimes, fluid or coolant leaks due to a cracked or worn-out hose that feeds the power steering pump can raise temperature. Additionally, if the coolant is dirty or has too much buildup, it can stop it from moving through the pump. It may cause an overheating situation (12).

Engine Overheating

Car engines generate heat during combustion. And some of this heat can dissipate throughout other parts of the vehicle. Some possible reasons for engine overheating are:

  • Low coolant level,
  • Broken thermostat
  • Malfunctioning radiator fan
  • Broken water pump
  • Blown head gasket

Some other reasons for engine overheating are the issues with components used for installation or repair of the vehicle. They can be aftermarket parts or poor installation. Due to these, heat may dissipate towards the steering wheel and make it hot.

Defective Steering Wheel Heater

Again, I admit that no source directly addresses common defects in steering wheel heaters. Yet some general steering issues may impact the function of a heated steering wheel. Hence, some common steering problems include wheel play, pulling, wandering, and sticky steering wheel. These may interfere with the heating function (13).

Other Internal Factors

One potential cause of a hot steering wheel is a worn or loose steering belt. It can cause increased friction and heat generation in the steering system. As a result, you will feel your steering wheel’s temperature rise.

Again, the turning motion of the steering wheel can generate frictional heat. It is prevalent in older vehicles or those with worn-out components.

Sometimes, worn-out bearings in the steering column can increase friction. They can generate excessive heat during steering maneuvers.

What to Do

For internal reasons, you must check the components are running well or in good condition. If you find them defective, you may repair or replace them soon. For instance, replacing faulty wiring or failing electrical components may resolve electrical-related overheating. Similarly, you can replace worn-out bearings to eliminate mechanical causes of overheating.

 In this case, a professional car mechanic may suggest a better solution.

Effects of Hot Steering Wheel on Driving Safety

Several research indicates that steering wheel design and interaction can significantly impact driver performance. Transforming steering wheels, for instance, have been found to assist drivers in regaining control in autonomous vehicles (14, 15).

The time it takes for a driver to respond to a takeover request and touch the steering wheel is also a standard measure of driver performance (16). Additionally, steering reversal rates have been used to measure driver performance. However, they do not always correlate with absolute steering performance (17).

Now, think about the hot steering wheel. Didn’t you find the information above valid?

How to Cool Down a Hot Steering Wheel

Let’s discuss the essential things – how you can reduce the chances of increasing the steering wheel’s temperature.

In my (also other car owners’) view, the simplest and most effective way to cool down a hot steering wheel is to park your vehicle in a shaded area. Also, you can use a windscreen sunshade or a pop-up windshield. It is a simple accessory to effectively keep the sun’s rays from heating your car’s interior.

Another simple trick is to turn the steering wheel 180° when parking in the sun (already mentioned). It can help avoid the hot steering wheel. When it’s time to drive, just grab the bottom of the wheel and bring it back to the top. It will ensure a cooler touch.

Steering wheel covers, especially those made from heat-resistant materials, can prevent the steering wheel from absorbing too much heat. You can select covers like the EZ Cool Steering Wheel Cover and reduce the temperature under direct sunlight (18).

However, regular vehicle maintenance is crucial for long-term prevention. It refers to:

  • Inspecting and repairing the cooling system
  • Ensuring proper insulation around the steering column
  • Checking the condition of the steering belt

There are also advanced cooling technologies available to keep your steering wheel cool. For instance, you can use air conditioning vents in the steering wheel. These vents can be connected to the vehicle’s air conditioning system. They allow cool air to be circulated through the steering wheel, keeping it cool.

Another technology is the use of cooling pads. You can place these thin, flexible pads on the steering wheel. Then, turn on the vehicle’s air conditioning system. Cool air will circulate through the pads and keep the steering wheel cool.

Final Words

So, what have you found? Do you still think – why is my steering wheel hot? As I said, increasing its temperature to a certain level is common, especially in summer. But if it becomes unbearable to touch, you should not delay looking out for the reasons.

If you find any technical issues, first check what is going on. Then, repair or replace the damaged or faulty components. As the final help, you can communicate with an expert to solve the problem soon.

That’s it. Thanks for reading this blog.

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