Placing buttons on the steering wheel is a simple matter. The problem is to connect the wires in the rotating steering wheel to the stationary electrical circuits in the column. Simple constructions, where only the “bibikalka” is brought to the helm, are dispensed with a slider that travels along the slip rings. A button on the steering wheel closes the contacts, current flows through the plate to the horn. The second wire is not needed, minus "sits" on the steering shaft.

The design of the "adapter" was changed to connect new devices. One of them is the airbag, to which the supply and control electric circuits go. The slider was replaced by a flat loop wound on a reel. When you turn the steering wheel, it is pulled to the desired length, and then again screwed onto the bobbin. By the way, many unfortunate repairmen, removing the steering wheel, then forget to put the "adapter" in the middle position. And since the length of the loop is limited (it is usually designed for four turns of the steering wheel), then after the first turn of the “helm” you have to order a new part all the way.

In the steering wheels of modern cars with multiplex wiring, a control unit is often built in, which collects signals from all the buttons on the steering wheel, converts them into a digital code and transfers them to the recipients. This device allows you to not drag a wide train from the helm to the steering column, making the design more compact.


The number and the presence of buttons on the steering wheel do not always depend on the price of the car. Of course, they are almost never found on cheap cars. But sometimes expensive models cost ascetic, according to current concepts, a set.

For example, the Lexus-GS300 steering wheel has only shift buttons. On the front side of the rim - “Down” for sequential switching down, on the back - “Up”, respectively, up. By the way, the Japanese chose not only the original location, but also the designations of the buttons (for most models, the keys on the box have plus and minus signs). True, sometimes the radio volume control buttons or cruise control controls are also marked like this. Then other symbols are used for the gearbox, and the keys are placed away from the rest.

On some cars with hydromechanical gearboxes or CVTs, other designations on the steering wheel are found. For example, the Honda CR-V has two keys on the steering wheel that control the “automatic” - the “D” index corresponds to the normal mode, and “S” - sports.


Yes, there gearboxes - on most modern models, the steering wheels are literally dotted with buttons: a button - for a couple of piano octaves. They are responsible for the audio system, telephone, cruise control and other options.

At the helm of the BMW 7 Series under the right hand is the button “S / M” - sports or manual mode of the box. A little lower - the keys of the audio system. With their help, they are looking for the desired radio station or favorite song on the CD. The lowest button can be programmed by assigning any of the listed functions to it.

The plus and minus keys located under the left hand control the sound volume of the audio system and speakerphone. Below them is the telephone control, and above, the launch of the voice command system.

So far, even the designers of one company have not reached the unification of the arrangement of the keys. When designing the "seven", Bavarian engineers took the control of the cruise control to the steering column switch, and in the "three rubles" they preferred to arrange the keys on the steering wheel. “Plus” and “minus” set the desired constant speed, and remember it by pressing the adjacent button.

The designers of the modern "Gelendavagen" did not spray on the little things - they put on-board computer control on the steering wheel. By pressing the buttons, you can "walk" through the menu, giving commands to various devices and systems. By the way, such a control scheme is implemented not only on an all-terrain vehicle, but also on the Mercedes-Benz CL coupe.


It seems that in the near future a decent replacement for the usual steering wheel will not appear. Unless the helms will become even smaller - like in concepts, many of which will turn into serial models in a few years.

But another trend is emerging - the “helms” of the future will be even more densely dotted with buttons. In the Volvo SCC prototype, you can control your on-board computer, navigation, cruise control, and audio system without taking your hands off the steering wheel. Nearby are buttons for climate control and the operation of rear view cameras. Buttons on the steering wheel of the Suzuki Concept S replaced the steering column switches.

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Of course, it is unlikely that the wheels of production cars will be so overloaded with buttons and toggle switches, as the “helms” of Formula 1 cars. The spacious interior, unlike the tight cockpit, does not clamp designers into strict frames. In addition, the average driver is not long to get confused in a tricky keyboard.

But some racing "little things", for example information displays in the middle of the steering wheel, are likely to appear on expensive cars in a few years. If necessary, they will display a wide variety of information about the condition of the car and the upcoming route.

I wonder if it will be possible, having parked, to watch a movie on the steering wheel or to play a game of chess with a smart on-board computer?


The design of the "adapter" of the steering wheel: 1 - a movable ring; 2 - wires to the steering wheel; 3 - case; 4 - wires to the steering column; 5 - a connecting loop.

With his right hand, the BMW 7 Series driver controls the gearbox and audio system, with the left hand, the phone and voice command system. Two buttons on the rim can manually shift gears.

Volvo SCC concept. Along with the already familiar set of keys on the “helm”, there is a button that controls three rear-view cameras and another additional one that monitors children in the back seat.

On the steering wheel "Suzuki-Concept S" brought control of light devices and wipers.