Are Quick Release Steering Wheels Legal? [Install It or Not]

You might have seen how drivers of race cars are able to remove their steering wheels and put them back in seconds. Can you do this too on your vehicle?

That type of steering wheel is called a quick-release steering wheel. You can potentially add it to your vehicle as a modification, but is it legal?

Quick-release steering wheels are not legal in the US. As much as they look cool, there is a potential safety issue which is they lack airbags. All the vehicles built after 1990 in the US had to have airbags in the steering wheel. However, if the vehicle can be registered as a race car, it can have the quick-release steering wheel, but you can not drive it on a public street.

Quick-release steering legality is a challenging one because of its wide range of applications. That is why sometimes it can be allowed.

We want to focus more on how it works, its limitations, and additionally its legality of where the quick removable wheel is allowed or banned.

What is a Quick Release Steering Wheel?

Most people would have never thought that a steering wheel would be easily detachable for you to get in and out of the vehicle.

That is what you get with a quick-release steering wheel. It is simply a steering wheel that is attached to a hub using a specialized mechanism. If you want to remove the steering wheel, simply press on the mechanism and it comes right off.

Parts of a Quick-Release Steering Wheel

are removable steering wheels legalA vehicle can start with normal steering, but it can be converted into a quick removable steering wheel easily. You will need three main parts to make the conversion, they include the hub, quick-release steering, and connectors.

The hub is important for holding the quick-release steering. Just make sure it is correctly installed or you might find it easily coming loose as you turn the wheel.

The quick-release steering is available in different styles, shapes, and looks. Take the time to find the look that works for you. Each type can have a different quick removable mechanism. What is important is having a mechanism you can easily use.

You will still need connectors together with the steering wheel. The work of the connectors is to help tighten or loosen the steering wheel depending on preference.

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How Does Quick Release Steering Wheel Work

A quick-release steering wheel has a safety button that is the core of its operation. When you pull the safety button up, it allows you to take the steering out. It also allows you to push the steering in and lock it into position. The good thing is that you can do it with just one hand.

You still get a lock that keeps your steering wheel in place. The last thing someone wants is to have the steering wheel coming off while driving. Most models of such steerings have keys to lock the steering. Make sure not to lose them.

A spacer is also part of the design of a quick-release steering wheel. The spacer is vital to prevent too much movement where it is not needed and you can enjoy your ride better.

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Limitations of a Quick-Release Steering Wheel

The biggest concern people might have about using a quick-release steering wheel would be safety issues. There is no proper guarantee of driver safety in case of a crash considering such a steering wheel lacks an airbag.

Another potential downside of a quick-release steering wheel is that setting it up can take a long time. It might get easier with time, but you have to work on several models first.

Most people installing the system might find it takes more time than other steering wheels they have installed before.

Of course, the biggest limitation of all is the legality question. You would not just simply install such quick-release steering wheels and not expect questions from officers.

If you are unsure, it is best to consider with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your areas first before installing the quickly removable steering wheel.

The Legality of a Quick-Release Steering Wheel in the US

You will notice that the quick-release steering wheel is largely illegal in the US. This is mostly for those vehicles you will have to use on public roads.

However, there can be exceptions for you to change to a quick-release steering wheel and still use it. A good example is when you have the vehicle registered as a racing car. As such, it would mostly be used on a race track.

Quick-release steering wheel largely remains illegal in the US for vehicles manufactured and sold in the US after 1998. The main reason being the steering wheel lacks an airbag which is vital for your safety while driving and unfortunately getting into an accident. 

For this reason, you may find quick-release steering wheels being offered in race cars only. This is because such cars are only used on tracks and the law allows for such specialty cars to be modified to suit their application. However, if you are going to drive on public streets, an airbag is necessary. 

The airbag necessity was made mandatory in the US for vehicles that were manufactured and sold in the US after 1991. However, the law came into effect in 1998. So, if you own a vehicle built from 1998 onwards, it cannot use a quick-release steering wheel legally. 

What if your car is older and was manufactured before 1998? That is where a technicality arises in the sense that you can actually install the quick-release for a vehicle made in 1997 or before and it will be legal with no questions asked. 

The best way to know if you can install a quick-release steering wheel on your car is by consulting with the DMV or DOT of your state. These departments can help you know if you can have it installed or not. The last thing you want is to get into trouble with authorities because of aftermarket parts. 

Many people who switch to quick release steering wheels for street-legal cars do it because it looks cool and also it can help deter thieves from stealing your car. However, driving with no airbag is not better either. The worst part can be when your car was made after 1998 and it needs the steering wheel for legal status.

Online department of motor vehicles, driver’s license, registration, plates, and information by state.

Quick-Release Steering Wheel Safety

One of the reasons you might face legal hurdles to using the quick removable steering wheel is because of safety.

Unlike the OEM steering wheels, quick-release steering wheels will not have airbags. Lacking an airbag is the biggest reason why they are not considered safe. You can imagine what would happen when you get into an accident. You might bang your head on the steering wheel, which is not safe.

Statistics show that people who use such steering wheel types daily and probably got into an accident, but not all of them hit their heads on the steering wheel. This is because the seat belt did its job well.

Another potential safety issue is that if the quick-release steering wheel is not installed correctly, you might end up with one that comes off easily. This can be a disaster while driving and potentially lead to crashes.

5 Best Quick-Release Steering Wheel Brands:  Must-Read Comparison

There are a number of quick-release steering wheel brands in the market. However, if you are not careful, you might end up with low-quality steering wheels. It is why you might want to consider these brands for your next quick removable steering wheel.  

1. NRG quick-release steering wheel

NRG is a top brand in terms of having many options for quick-release steering wheels. The brand has been around for a while, so it has the experience vital for making the best quick-release steering wheels.

You will also get other aftermarket products including short hubs, quick releases, shift knobs, exterior products, and so much more.

2. MOMO quick-release steering wheel

MOMO is a big brand in making all sorts of quick-release steering wheels. Its steering wheels have been featured in companies such as Ferrari. This means that the brand knows its craft and will have the best quality too. You will largely come across different types and shapes for those who might want variety in terms of a quick-release steering wheel.

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3. Sparco quick-release steering wheel

Sparco is readily available in different countries ensuring its quality products can reach all enthusiasts. Its prices might be a bit higher than the other brands mentioned here, but the quality is still good. It is hard to come across Spacrco having recalls on different products they sell.

As for steering wheels, you can opt for street and competition options. The idea is to get you variety so that you have the best quick-release steering wheels.

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4. JDM quick-release steering wheel

You could definitely use some bargain steering wheels too. That is where this brand comes in. take the time to go through its catalog to see what works great for your vehicle and style.

Even though it is an affordable brand, it does not mean it has compromised on quality. You will still get quality steering wheels and the support needed for correct installation.

5. Grant quick-release steering wheel

This brand takes pride in making high-quality quick-release steering wheels from billet aluminum. This is aircraft-grade material that assures the uses of durability. So, if you have the budget for it, this brand will not disappoint.

The products also feel solid in the hand. At least you would be assured of quality and safety. The last thing someone wants is for the steering wheel to bend in case of a crash.

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There can be more brands, but those mentioned above should get you the best quick-release steering wheels.

Quick Release Steering Wheel Installation Guide

Are you looking for a DIY or professional quick-release steering wheel installation? These are some of the things you would ask yourself when you need to get a new quick-release steering wheel.

The good thing about quick-release steering wheels is that you can install them on any car. This includes the Nissan 350Z and Honda Civic too.

Below is a quick summary of how you can install the quick-summary steering wheel on different cars.

1. Gather the required tools

We will focus more on installing the NRG quick release steering wheel. Of course, you have to buy it from the company website and also get the NRG short hub.

Still, you need tools such as screwdrivers, Allen wrench, wire stripper, lighter, small hook pick, and more. It depends on the type of quick release steering wheel you pick. It will have details on all the tools you need.

2. Remove the horn

As part of safety, you are supposed to disconnect the horn first. Look for the cables connecting the horn on the steering wheel so that it does not make any horn sounds as you remove the steering wheel.

3. Remove the wheel assembly

It is easier when you had already changed your steering wheel to one with the same geometry as a quick release steering. However, if you have the OEM steering, it might involve a lot more parts. Start by removing the airbag and then disconnect the horn.

Using your wrench, remove the central nut holding the steering wheel in position. Removing this nut should allow you to wiggle and remove the OEM steering wheel.

4. Install the short hub

The steering wheel comes with a short hub that needs to be mounted first on the steering column before you can slide on the steering wheel.

You would start by installing it over the steering column, add a space and washer then finish it off with the nut to hold it in position. The good thing is that the NRG package should come with everything you need to install the quick release steering wheel.

5. Install the quick release mechanism and wheel

Install the remaining part of the adapter to the steering wheel. You will need the Allen wrench to do the installation. Once you are done, simply slid it over the hub and rotate it until it clicks into position. Just like that, you are done with the installation.

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Do not forget to reinstall the horn as it is vital for your safety and other road users.

Below are videos explaining in detail how to do the installation.

  • Quick-release steering wheel install on Nissan 350Z with NRG Steering Wheels
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  • Quick release steering wheel install on Honda civic
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Will a quick-release steering wheel pass an MOT?

MOT does not allow for a quick-release steering wheel. It is only allowed when the car has been prepared exclusively for activities such as rallying. So, it is the same as in the US, you cannot have the quick-release wheel on street-legal vehicles.

Can You install a quick-release steering wheel on Porsche or BMW?

Yes. It is possible to install a quick-release steering wheel on any vehicle. The first thing you have to do is equip the vehicle with a short hub adapter. With the adapter in place, then it should not be hard to add the quick-release steering wheel. Make sure it is installed by a professional.

Is there a universal quick-release steering wheel?

You would find that the quick-release steering wheels are easily universal for big brands. This means so long as it can fit into the adapter, it is possible to use the steering wheel. However, it is best to have everything for setting up the quick-release steering wheel from the same brand for the highest quality custom, and performance consistency.

Where to buy quick-release steering wheels?

There are many companies available right now selling quick-release wheels. This includes MOMO, Sparco, NRG, and others. Do proper research to understand what makes a brand good at making such steering wheels before buying them.

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