How To Master Steering

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

A fundamental part of driving but one which you may initially not consider a challenge before you get behind the wheel for the first time is steering.

Mastering the correct and safe way of steering a car is something you’ll need to do pretty early on in your driver training.

If it’s not something you get right, your driving instructor will hold you back until you begin doing it right.

Thankfully, once you know how to do it right, it’s an easy skill to master and one which can make a huge difference to the smoothness of your cornering, both for you and your future passengers.

Our guide will take you through exactly how to master steering when you’re learning to drive.

Whether you’re trying to steer around a tight bend, take a long curve on the motorway or reverse in to a parking space, the skill and method behind it remains the same.

Unlike many other skills and techniques, steering is largely unchanged even when it comes to driving in different weather and driving conditions.

It essentially rests on three vital aspects:

Hand Placement:

We will cover the exact hand placement you should aim for in our step-by-step guide but if you get your placement correct, the rest should follow.

Incorrect hand placement, however, can be both dangerous and uncomfortable.

Smoothness Of Action:

Once your hand placement is correct, the smoothness of your steering action should fall in to place nicely.

These two points really do feed in to each other.

Looking At Where You Want To Go:

In very basic terms, you should aim your focus where you want to steer to.

Whether you’re driving in a straight line or turning around a corner, by looking where you want to aim for you will generally steer that way – don’t look at your steering wheel.

What You Will Learn

Our guide is designed to make mastering the art of steering as easy as possible.

We won’t fill you with jargon and instead will go through the simple steps which will ensure your steering technique is both safe and comfortable.

Once you have read and learned the content of this guide, you will be able to answer all of the questions below, plus much more.

  • What is power steering?
  • What is dry steering and should I be doing it?
  • Where should I place my hands when steering?
  • Where should I be looking?
  • Is steering one-handed or with the palm of my hand recommended, like in the movies?
  • Am I okay to let the wheel spin itself back in to position after turning a corner or leaving a parking bay?
  • What is meant by ‘full lock’?

To make sure that our guide is as understandable and digestible as possible, we have broken it up in to the following sections:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

Here is our simple step-by-step guide to master steering when you’re learning to drive.

Remember, this simple guide is just that – a guide.

Make sure you ask your driving instructor should you have any questions or if you remain uncomfortable with the technique of steering.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the process of steering through a corner, however, the technique of steering remains the same whatever manoeuvre you’re performing.

  • The first step is to get your hand placement correct. You should place your hands on the steering wheel at ‘ten-to-two’. This means your hands should take the approximate position of clock hands when the time is ten-to-two. If the shape of your steering wheel perhaps doesn’t allow this or makes it uncomfortable, you can also use the quarter-to-three position.
  • As you enter the corner, you will need to begin the motion of turning the wheel. You may have heard of the expression ‘feeding the wheel’. It’s also known as the push-pull method. This is where this comes in. To do this, you’ll need to do the following:
  • For a left turn: With your left hand, pull down on the wheel so that it begins to turn. The wheel should ‘feed’ through your right hand.
  • For a right turn: With your right hand, pull down on the wheel so that it begins to turn. The wheel should ‘feed’ through your left hand.
  • Depending on the angle of the turn, you may need to repeat this process, pushing and pulling the wheel with one hand always gripping it.
  • Once you have driven through the corner and need to straighten up, simply reverse the process. So in the example of turning left, to straight the car back up you would be pulling with the right hand and pushing with the left until the steering wheel returns to it’s natural position.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Steering is one area of driving which a huge number of people begin to neglect from a technique point of view once they are confident drivers.

You need to avoid this – learn the correct technique early on and it stands you in a great position to be a safe driver.

Here are a few hints and tips to make sure your technique is on point:

Don’t Cross Your Hands:

When you’re steering your car, don’t be tempted to abandon your hand position and cross hands to help steering.

If you’re doing this, you’re doing it wrong.

If you feel you need to do this, you’re probably going too quick through the bend and may be out of control

Don’t Let The Steering Wheel Spin:

It can be tempting to allow the steering wheel to spin back to its starting position when you have driven through a corner. Don’t do this, ever.

You will fail your test but it’s also dangerous as you’re not in control of the car

Wait Until A Goof Time To Remove A Hand From The Steering Wheel:

This one is quite self-explanatory, but if you need to remove a hand from the steering wheel for any reason, wait until you are on a straight stretch of road.

Useful Information

As with every part of driving, there is some terminology which may come up from time-to-time which can confuse you if you don’t know what it means.

Well, if you’re going to master driving, you need to know any terms that apply to each area, so we’ve popped some simple definitions below with three of the most common ones.

Dry Steering:

This is when you try turning the steering wheel when the car is stationery.

As a rule, you should avoid doing this as it can place great strain on the steering column and potentially the tyres.

Full Lock:

This is the term given to when you have the steering wheel turned all of the way in either direction.

This is the maximum angle at which the car wheels can turn and is known as ‘full lock’.

Power Steering:

Most modern-day cars now come with PAS, or ‘power steering’ to use its common name.

It makes steering easier and feel much ‘lighter’ than in older cars which do not have it.

It’s especially useful when you’re manoeuvring in a tight space or perhaps performing a three-point turn for example.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, steering a car comes down to one thing – control.

While there are varying techniques, you’re driving instructor will be looking to assess whether or not you’re in control of the car when steering around a corner.

If you’re not, then you’ll probably fail.

The correct techniques, such as ones concerning hand placement, ensure you are in control of the car at all times when steering.

This is why mastering the correct techniques as early as you can is vitally important.

Further Resources