Steering Wheel Knob: 6 Most Popular Types

January 27, 2012

A steering wheel knob acts as a lever to amplify rotational force exerted by the driver. These devices are known as brodie knobs or steering wheel spinners. They are also referred to by the politically incorrect terms "suicide knob", "necker knob", and "grannie knob". Before power steering became a standard feature on nearly all vehicles, these knobs were widely used. When using such a knob on a modern automobile, it is easy to oversteer and send the car into a skid. They are now illegal in many jurisdictions. Drivers can be ticketed and fined for using one. However, exceptions apply for individuals with disabilities. Amputees or people suffering from muscular dystrophy are often permitted to install these assistive devices in their vehicle. Individuals recovering from carpal tunnel surgery or tendonitis might also find them useful. Enforcement of steering wheel knob prohibitions by police officers is often sporadic and discretionary. They are rarely a primary reason for a traffic stop. However, if you are involved in an accident while using a steering wheel knob, your insurance carrier may deny your claim. Of course, there are no restrictions against installing steering wheel spinners on lawnmowers or other off-road vehicles. There are several popular types of steering wheel knob.

1. Amputee Ring

The amputee ring is different from other steering wheel knobs in that it is not actually shaped like a knob at all. The amputee ring clamps to the outside of the steering wheel and the functional part is a hollow plastic or metal circle. These knobs are designed to assist individuals who have suffered an amputation below the elbow. The unique design allows the driver to transfer force to the steering wheel without using his or her fingers to grip anything.

2. V-Grip

This is another type of steering wheel spinner that is not shaped like a knob. The v-grip consists of a vertical post and bracket. The post is coated with foam or rubber and rests against the driver's palm, and the metal bracket rests against the driver's knuckles. These devices are suitable for drivers who have not suffered an amputation, but may not necessarily be able to grip strongly with their fingers.

3. Tri-Pin

The tri-pin steering wheel spinner is slightly similar to the v-grip design. It consists of three foam-coated posts, but does not have a bracket.

4. Type R and Type S

Type R and Type S steering wheel knobs are the most generic kind. They were not specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. These spinners consist of a chrome or aluminum knob which clamps onto the rim of the steering wheel. They are available online for approximately $10 plus shipping.

5. Stylized Spinners

Stylized spinners are an extension of the basic design. This category includes specialty chrome knobs shaped like skulls or 8-balls. It also includes regular knobs with decorations like the John Deere logo or a nude feminine silhouette.

6. Interior Spinner

This type of spinner mounts inside the area described by the circular shape of the steering wheel, rather than clamping to its perimeter. It can be found on classic cars but is rare today.

Related Questions and Answers

What are the Benefits of a Removable Steering Wheel?

Probably the biggest benefit of the removable steering wheel is that there's nothing for a car thief to use to steer the vehicle. Imagine the surprise of your basic pro thief when they quickly enter your car, scooch down as not to be seen, so they can do their nasty deeds and then, after they're all ready to go, there's no steering wheel. There's an equally important issue, it's that if you want to swap out your old wheel for something a little more fun and expensive, you just have to make sure any electrical connectors snap in correctly and that the drill holes line up.

Do You Need to Adjust the Steering Wheel Column for Spinner Knobs?

No, the steering wheel column does not need any adjustment if you use a spinner knob. The spinner knob fits where it is most comfortable for you on the rim of the steering wheel and makes it easier to turn the wheel of the vehicle more quickly. If it does not require any mechanical adjustment of the steering gear for a very good reason, it is an add-on device. Unlike an airbag, which may need some major engineering work to fit it into a newly shaped steering wheel. As noted, the spinner is attached at the point where it is most comfortable for you to use and nothing else mechanically has to be changed.

Do Spinner Knobs Get in the Way of an Airbag in a Steering Wheel?

An airbag in the steering wheel is a device that is remarkably free of anything that will get in the way of their proper operation. The simple reason is they blast out of the center hub of the wheel and not out of the steering wheel rim where the spinner is located. A spinner is a device that was often installed years ago, when larger cars and trucks meant you needed a very firm grip and strength to turn. The spinner knob, typically installed at about 10 o'clock, reduced the effort the turn the front wheels. They seem to be making a resurgence today, even though power steering has made their necessity something as needed as a buggy whip.

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