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

Jun, 2018
How to Turn the Steering Wheel

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 know is steering. This involves the techniques of turning your car in the right direction. 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 on what do.

If you want to know how to turn the steering wheel, we get you covered in the rest of this post. You will know the steps on how to do this right and some of the tips that can help you 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. I am in no position to say which is best for you. At the end of the day, choose one that you are most comfortable with. If you are comfortable with it, you will have a better driving experience. The type of turn or movement to be made is also a major deciding factor.

To have a better understanding of the methods that will be discussed below, here is a short video that will help:

Hand Over Hand

This is a method that will work the best if you have to make tight turns. This will allow the wheel to be turned at a greater distance within a short span of time. For U-turn and other sharp turns or when you are turning at a slow speed, this is what you should do.

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

  • Position your hands on the steering wheel based on what you are most comfortable with. More about these positions will be discussed later on.
  • If you are making a right turn with the use of this method, your hand should be positioned at 9 and 3 o’clock.
  • Rotate the steering wheel clockwise until your left hand reaches the 1 o’clock position. At this point, release your right hand and bring it to 11 or 12 o’clock position.
  • Continue rotating the wheel with the use of your right hand. Release the left hand and assume the neutral position once you have successfully made a turn.

Milking the Cow

This is the second method that is shown in the video above. Not a lot of people are a fan of this. It is hated by many because it takes a lot of practice before you can finally master this method. However, this can be a good choice of a method if in case you are making wide turns and there is no need to do one to two touches.

  • Position the left and the right hand on the top of the steering wheel. Be sure that you are as relaxed as possible and not stiff.
  • Let us say that you are going to turn left. The original position of your hand should be 10 and 2 o’clock. Pull the left hand all the way to the 6 and the right hand will push all the way to 12.

Wiping the Dishes

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

  • Hold the wheel with your left hand in an 11 o’clock position.
  • If you are backing up, put your right hand on the back of the passenger’s seat, which will make it easy for your body to turn and to see the back.
  • Turn the steering wheel with the use of your left hand.

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 have to keep in mind:

Turn the Steering Wheel


  • As much as possible, hold the 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 a firm grip. 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 lesser control.
  • When it comes to holding the steering wheel most of the time, there are two positions that are often recommended – the 10 and 2 o’clock position and the 9 and 3 o’clock position. If you have a power steering, the latter will be the better option. On the other hand, if you are driving an older model, it will be best to choose the former.
  • The position of your thumb will also be 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 thumb.
  • Do not keep your hands crossed when they are relaxed. When you leave them in a crossed position there is a high likelihood that you will suffer from injury when the airbag explodes. The impact can be too powerful and can strain your hand or wrist.
  • 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 an assurance that the wheels will respond to your commands. Do not act as if you are a racer driving a high-powered sports car!


As a new driver, one of the first things that you need to know is how to turn a 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 and be mindful of your turns to have safe driving experience!

Did you learn anything from this guide? Are there other steering tips that you would like to add? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section.