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How to Steer a Car Correctly

How to Steer a Car Correctly

We all understand that the steering wheel is an important aspect of the car as it allows us to go in the direction that we wish to do so. As far as the UK driving test is concerned, there are certain things that the driving examiner will expect from a candidate.

Hand Positioning on the Steering Wheel

Positioning your hands on the steering wheel correctly is important to maintain safe control of the vehicle. The driving examiner will be looking at the way that you are holding the steering wheel. Ideally, the steering wheel should be held at either the 2:45 position as if it was the face of the clock or the 10 to 2 position. Your elbows should be slightly bent. Furthermore, the driver must be able to see all the dials on the dashboard, and of course the road ahead. In most cars, the steering wheel can be adjusted to come towards the driver and away from the driver. The height of the steering wheel can also be adjusted.

Push and Pull Technique

The push and pull technique is a system of steering which is recommended by the DVSA. This is the driver and vehicle standards agency which is responsible for all driving tests in the UK. Beginning with holding the steering wheel the 2:45 position or the 10 to 2 position. Let us assume you want to turn right. Bring your right hand to the 12 o’clock position and pull the steering wheel down to the 6 o’clock position. During this time, the left hand is very loose on the steering wheel and should come down at the same time as the right hand. Both hands are now at the 6 o’clock position.  Then with your left hand gripping the wheel, bring it towards the 12 o’clock position. The right hand should simply follow. You can try practising this will a kitchen plate at home.


One of the reasons that the push and pull technique of steering is recommended by the DVSA is due to the airbag. If a driver were to have a collision with an oncoming vehicle, let us say at 30 mph, it would trigger the airbag to prevent the driver from getting injured. However, if the driver’s hands were crossed on the steering wheel at the time, the airbag would force the driver to punch themselves at over 60 mph. This would cause a severe injury to the drivers face especially if they were wearing jewellery such as a watch or bracelet. Next time you see an emergency vehicle on a 999 call, stop for a second and watch them steer. They will always use the push and pull technique. They know that they can go faster and safer around the corner using this steering technique.

Dry Steering

Throughout your driving lessons, you will hear the driving instructor use the term drive steering. I steering basically means turning the steering wheel while the car is stationary. In the past when many cars did not have power steering, this would cause a strain on the steering mechanism. However, these days this is not a problem. The reason that driving instructors do not like dry steering is that it causes uneven wear to the tyres. This can even cause small bold patches. According to UK law, the tyre must have a minimum of 1.6 mm of tyre tread depth across three-quarters of the centre of the tyre around the entire circumference. The penalty for this offence is £100 fine and three penalty points on your drivers’ license. According to the new drivers’ act, is someone who has passed the driving test within the last two years were to get six or more points, there would automatically lose their driving licence.

You would not fail a driving test for dry steering but it is not advisable. However, the learner driver needs to weigh everything up. For example, if you are carrying out the reverse parking manoeuvre and everything was complete apart from the steering wheel. It would be better to dry steer the wheel into position rather than take a risk of hitting the curb.

Letting the Steering Wheel Spin Back

Mastering the push and pull technique is one thing. However, we must remember that we need to use the same technique to bring the wheel back into its normal position. It is very easy to let the wheel spin back. The main dangers of allowing the steering wheel to spin back into position are that it may over spin and course the car to go in the other direction. Allowing the steering wheel to spin back into position is not acceptable in the driving test. Generally speaking, the driving examiner will give the candidate a minor fault for it. However, constantly repeated it would be marked as a serious fault. Furthermore, even if the candidate only allowed the wheel to spin back on one occasion but lost control, this would be marked as a serious fault. One serious fault in the driving test will result in an automatic fail.

Driving with One hand on the Steering wheel

Ideally, the driver should keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times unless one hand is required for another driving job. This could be to change gears. It is a legal requirement that a driver must have at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times while the car is moving. As far as the UK driving test is concerned, the driving examiners will expect a learner driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel unless they are carrying out another driving job. Although by law only one hand is required to steer a vehicle, this would not be acceptable in the driving test. The UK driving test is based upon the fundamental of safety. It is far safer to have two hands on the steering wheel rather than one.

Reversing with One Hand on the Steering Wheel

Having said that the driving examiners will expect you to keep both hands on the steering wheel, there is an exception to this rule. That is reversing. Using one hand to steer the car whilst reversing is perfectly acceptable in the UK driving test. There are two reasons for this. The first is that reversing is done usually at crawling speed. Secondly, it is more important that the driver turns his body to enable them to get a better vision. Therefore, using your right hand while your left hand is on the passenger seat is perfectly acceptable when it comes to reversing.

Steering at Different Speeds

The slower the car is travelling, the more you would need to steer. In the same way, the faster the car is travelling, less would need to steer. This can be very confusing for learner drivers when they first go onto a dual carriageway or any fast roads. Generally speaking, if you did change from one lane to another lane on a dual carriageway you would only have to steer between 5 to 10 minutes towards the direction that you wanted to go.

Steering Tips for Beginners

Having spoken above the importance of the push and pull technique, most important advice that I can give to a learner driver to focus on the control of the car and not worry in the beginning so much about the technique. Whether you need to cross your hands or dry steer, most important thing is control of the vehicle and safety of yourself and other road users.

Many learner drivers make the mistake of looking at the steering wheel when they are steering. It is essential that the driver looks far into the road. It is very similar to walking. If you were to look at your shoes whilst walking you will probably end up hitting your head on the lamppost. When you walk, you look straight ahead and your eyes simply tend to guide your feet. The same with the steering wheel. If you look far ahead into the road, you guys will guide your hands on the steering wheel.  In most cars, the steering wheel can be adjusted to come towards the driver and away from the driver. The height of the steering wheel can also be adjusted. Why not visit our the DTC Driving Test Services Youtube Channel for great tips.