How to Steer a Car for Beginners

October 20, 2020

You just got your driving license and are excited to cruise through the suburbs, highways, and everywhere else you wish to explore.

But do you know how to steer your car correctly? While you need to position your hands correctly on the steering wheel, your grip should also be firm but gentle.

Since you’re still gaining your driving experience, you have to ensure you properly adjust your steering so your car responds correctly and you don’t tire yourself.

So how can you steer your car correctly?

Let’s dive in to find out more.

But first, the principles of good steering.

Fundamentals of Proper Steering

First and foremost, while you’re out there driving, do not understeer or oversteer. Here are pointers to help you nail your steering;

  • Keep both hands on the wheel – You’ll have better control over your vehicle if you use both hands to steer. In this way also, you are going to feel how the care is responding. Whenever the need arises, you can quickly control your vehicle using pedals and the steering wheel instead of shifting the gears. Only get your hand off the wheel for a second when changing gears.
  • Hold It Firm – Never hold the steering knuckle tight, just firm enough for you to steer well and understand what is happening underneath your car.
  • Adjust the Settings – Nowadays, vehicles with electrically assisted steering have multiple settings. You should adjust to a setting that is best suited to you and your vehicle.
  • Only Steer When in Motion – Never spin the wheel when the car is stationary because you’ll unnecessarily stress the power steering and cause dry steering (leave tire marks).
  • Focus on the Road Ahead – Your steering will only be precise and accurate when you extend your sight farther on the road ahead of you. This way, you’ll spot hazards, curves, and other things that will need you to change direction. Anticipate your turns and give yourself time to plan and change direction on time. 

Positioning Your Hands on the Steering Wheel

car steering guide

The recommended method of holding the steering wheel is the 9:3 position because it’s more comfortable and natural. There’s also the 10:2 position ideal for taller people using vehicles with limited seating and steering positions. But you can adjust your steering and seating position to suit any of these two steering options.

Car Steering Techniques

Vehicle steering systems keep changing with time. This means your steering technique should also keep pace for safer and comfortable driving. Adapting your steering to the situation and vehicle is the only way you’ll drive properly.

Here are the different steering techniques you can adapt to for safe and comfortable driving:

Steer Left Push-Pull Steering Technique

For this technique, you can use either of the two steering methods. Hold the steering wheel with your left hand while loosening the right hand. Then pull the wheel with the left hand to a 6 o’clock position. Slide your right hand down so that it meets with your left. Now use the right hand to grip and loosen the left before pushing the wheel back up in a 12 o’clock position with the right hand as you slide the left up to meet with the right hand.

While steering, don’t cross your arms to excess but allow the wheel to spin freely while keeping both hands on the wheel.

Steer Right Push-Pull Steering Technique


You can also use either of the two steering positions with this technique. Grip the steering wheel using your right hand as you loosen the left one. Pull the wheel down in a 6 o’clock position with the right hand and slide down the left to meet the right.

Now grip the wheel with the left hand while loosening your right hand. Push the wheel back with your left hand in a 12 o’clock position as you slide up the right hand to meet the left.

For maximum, full lock right, you can start when both hands are positioned on top of the wheel. Then pull down as you right hand grips and the left slides down to the left of the wheel in the opposite side. Your hands will eventually meet at the bottom.

With your right hand gripping and pulling the wheel down and the left sliding down opposite, you will have a full lock.

Once you become confident with these techniques, you’ll gradually start steering effectively.

How to Steer at Different Speeds

When traveling at low speed, you need to steer the wheel more. As you perform a maneuver, like making a turn, you should steer to full right or left lock very quickly.

While driving fast at 70 mph on a dual carriageway, you should steer in small increments to effectively direct the car.

Every time when steering, you should factor in your speed. Always anticipate that changing direction while driving slowly will need more physical effort on the steering wheel. So you should be ready to turn the wheel at a high degree in low-speed areas such as urban neighborhoods, residential streets, and parking lots. But when driving fast, you can turn the wheel slightly, especially when changing direction on high-speed roads such as highways.

Kerbside Parking

As a beginner, parking within 30 cm of the curb can be challenging. To do it right, you need to use small increments of left steering and wheel straightening. Do this repeatedly until you are closer to the curb. Remember, if you steer harshly towards the curb, your front left wheel may end up hitting the curb.

What You Should Never Attempt As a New Driver

  • With the excitement of driving on your own, you may attempt to spin the steering wheel while driving. You must know that leaving the steering wheel to spin while straightening up is a bad habit, one you should strictly avoid. Always feed your wheel back round by implementing the push-pull technique.
  • As said earlier in the article, you should never steer your car when it’s parked or not moving. This will affect your steering components and car tires. Only dry steer when it’s necessary, like when executing a K-turn or parallel-parking.
  • Never let the wheel slide through your hands because it will cause you to have limited car control.
  • Don’t hook your hand under the rim of the steering wheel. Besides having limited control over the vehicle, you’ll also be risking injury if the airbag goes off.

Take Away

The first step to steering correctly is by adjusting your steering column and seat properly. This will help you fix your distance and height so you can sit comfortably behind the wheel. If you place a lot of stress on your body, you’ll be tired, distracted, and less responsive. Your seat position will affect your grip, so make proper adjustments before you set out.