To Turn the Steering Wheel

How to Turn the Steering Wheel: A Quick Guide for Novice Drivers

Driving can be intimidating at first, especially given the fact that you have a lot to learn. Among others, one of the first things that you need to learn is steering. In theory, it might seem easy. But, once you are in the driver’s seat with your hands on the steering wheel, you might be confused about what technique to use.

If you want to know how to turn the steering wheel, there are several ways to proceed. The first step is to know you can do it and have some faith in yourself. Fear needs to be replaced with calm as much as possible, so you don’t overreact. Also, the following three methods will help you learn how to turn the steering wheel.

  • Hand Over Hand
  • Milking the Cow
  • Wiping the Dishes

As you calmly turn the steering wheel, you begin to master the skill of steering. It can seem difficult at first, but if you know the right steps, things can be a lot easier. It won’t take long before you can finally drive like a pro!

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Turn the Steering Wheel

Before we proceed, it is important to note that there are different methods of turning the steering wheel. As a beginner, it is helpful to place your hands in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.

This means if your steering wheel was a clock, your left hand would be holding the wheel at 10 o’clock, and your right hand would be holding the wheel at 2 o’clock. Some steering wheels have bumps in those areas to make turning the wheel easier.

Later, as you get better at driving, you may have a position that is more comfortable, but for now, start in the 10 and 2 positions. If you are comfortable with this position, it is your safest and easiest way to drive once you use to it. 

While gripping the steering wheel, hold it firmly but not tight. You’ll need to be somewhat relaxed as you make turns and release your grip while gripping it again soon.

To have a better understanding of ways to turn the wheel, here is a short video that will help:

Hand Over Hand

The hand-over-hand method will work best if you have to make turns. This will allow the wheel to be turned at a greater distance within a short span of time. For U-turns, turning onto a crossing street, turning slowly, and other sharp turns, hand over hand, is best to use. 

Here are the steps that you should follow when making a hand-over-hand turn:

  • Position your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. This is usually right above the car horn and usually above the cross section that some people use to rest their hands on.
  • If you are making a right turn with the use of this method, your hand should be positioned at about 10 and 2 o’clock.
  • Rotate the steering wheel clockwise until your left-hand reaches about the 2 o’clock position. At this point, release your right hand and bring it to about the 12 o’clock position.
  • Continue rotating the wheel if needed, always keeping your palm grip towards the center of the wheel and never facing out (see video).
  • After the turn, release your grip while holding the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. The steering wheel will turn back, and then you can grip the steering wheel again.

Milking the Cow

This is the second method that is shown in the video above. This method can be useful when making smaller turns. It may not be as useful unless accuracy is needed and may be best during slower speeds. Not normally used in regular driving, this method can come in handy at times as roads slightly curve, so being aware of it and practicing once in a while can be helpful. 

  • Position the left and the right hand at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. Be sure that you are as relaxed as possible and not stiff.
  • While turning the wheel, you bring one hand to the other hand, but the hands never cross. This requires you to alternate gripping the steering wheel between your hands. As you repeat this step, the original position of your hand should return to about 10 and 2 o’clock each time.  

Wiping the Dishes

While most people would say that both of your hands should hold the steering wheel all the time, there are situations where one hand will be needed, like when you are backing up. This is where it becomes useful to learn this method of steering.

  • If you’re backing up, you’ll usually hold the wheel with your left hand in the 11 or 1 o’clock position. This can help you get more control at the beginning of your turn.
  • Putting your right hand on the back of the passenger’s seat can help you control your steering and enable you to accurately view the rearview mirrors and look behind you as you back up. 
  • Turn the steering wheel with your left hand in a slow, steady motion. Just remember to keep your hand palm over the wheel, facing away from you, and not palm facing towards you as you turn. 
  • As you turn, you should be able to apply pressure with your palm on the steering wheel, so you can turn it as much as needed without using your finger much, so you don’t twist your wrist.

Pro Tips

Now that you know how to turn the steering wheel using the methods discussed above, here are some of the important tips that you also need to keep in mind:


  • As much as possible, hold the steering wheel with both hands. One of the few exceptions would be when backing up, as discussed in the washing the dishes method of steering. You will have better control of the wheel when both of your hands are touching the steering wheel.
  • You also need to maintain the 10 and 2 o’clock positions for safe driving. When you are driving long distances, some people have the tendency to just lay their hand flat on the steering wheel without gripping. This gives you less control.
  • When it comes to holding the steering wheel, most of the time, most people use these two positions – the 10 and 2 o’clock position and the 9 and 3 o’clock position. If you have power steering, the latter will be possible. On the other hand, if you are driving an older model, it will be best to choose the former.
  • The position of your thumbs is also critical, depending on the road conditions when you are driving. It is recommended that you hook the thumb around the steering wheel if you are on a paved surface. On the other hand, when you are off-road, you can release the thumbs to help you stabilize the wheel on rough roads.
  • Be aware of the steering wheel airbag. Do not keep your hands crossed when turning. Do not drive with one hand at the top of the wheel. These positions can result in injury if the airbag goes off. It’s safest to keep your hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.
  • Before you steer, especially when making sharp turns, make sure to reduce your speed. This is not only for safety but will also provide you with better control as you turn. 


As a new driver, one of the first things that you need to know is how to turn the steering wheel. I hope that this post is able to provide you with insights on how to do it right. Always remember to position your hand correctly and to turn with caution. Keep an eye on the road, be mindful of your hand position, and have a safe driving experience!

To learn more about driving tips, see these articles: 

Safety Guide for Driving With Your Phone 

List of Auto Parts That You Should Know Before  Driving A Car 

Essential Tips For Beginners On Driving Automatic Cars