What Is a Quick-Release Steering Wheel?

Carlos Kirby
Dec 14, 2021 · 3 min read
Every gearhead is looking for accessories to make their car look a little bit better. One emerging trend is adding an after-market quick-release steering wheel. While this can make even an old rust bucket look a little more sporty, there is a concern about the safety of quick-release steering wheels. 
Close up photo of a metallic quick-release steering wheel
A quick-release steering wheel is used in professional racing, but is street legal.

What is a quick-release steering wheel?

A quick-release steering wheel is a performance steering wheel that can be detached quickly. Most factory-installed steering wheels are secured by a nut that is hidden behind various trim pieces. A quick-release steering wheel is usually attached by cams, push or pull rings, or pins. 
Quick-release wheels are pretty much universal on professional racing cars. In emergencies, a driver can detach the wheel and exit the vehicle quickly
They are a nice safety feature on the racetrack, as drivers are often in helmets and race suits, which can make exiting the vehicle difficult. 

Pros of installing a quick-release steering wheel

If something is popular with race cars, then it's only bound to also be popular with gearheads. According to MotorBiscuit, quick-release steering wheels are popular with people who like decking out their Honda Civics or WRXs. This makes sense, as WRX drivers love going fast
A quick-release steering wheel will add a nice speedy aesthetic to a car's interior, and can marginally improve the speed of the vehicle. They tend to be lighter than factory-installed steering wheels, they can add just a little more zip to a car. 
These after-market steering wheels also add some security to a vehicle. It's harder for thieves to steal a car if there's no steering wheel. If the quick-release steering wheel is secured by a pin, all a car owner has to do is keep the pin with them and a thief won't be able to attach the steering wheel. 
In most cases, installing a quick-release steering wheel is not street legal. If the factory steering wheel has an airbag, then any aftermarket steering wheel must also have an airbag.  As there aren't any quick-release steering wheels with an airbag, this makes them illegal ipso facto.
This rule offers some leeway for those with older cars. If your car is from the early 90s or older, then there's a good chance that you can install a quick-release steering wheel legally.
If you're looking to make your newer car look more like a race car, you may want to stay away from quick-release steering wheels. 
While they sure do look cool, installing one removes a critical safety feature. Not to mention that you'll probably get ticketed any time a cop sees the steering wheel. 

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