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Steering Wheel Returns To Center After Turn – Know The Reason Here!

The steering wheel is the hardware which when turned, gives direction to your vehicle. While you turn the steering to either side, the car moves accordingly. The mysterious part is when miraculously the steering wheel returns to center after turn. Why does that happen? Let’s find out.

Steering Wheel Returns To Center After Turn

There is a lot to know about cars. For an avid driver who is ever curious to know everything about cars, knowing the dynamics of the steering wheel would be interesting. Here is an explanation to why steering wheel turns to origin after rotation.

1. Credits To The Caster Angle

The caster angle is popularly described as the angular displacement of the steering axis from the vertical axis of wheels. This further implies how far is the steering axis to the vertical axis when viewed from a vehicle’s side. When you turn the steering wheel to direct the front wheels, the wheels pivot about an axis that is far away from being vertical.

For a fact, the pivot line would lean backward at the wheel’s top with reference to its bottom. In turn, the car would lift a little, but the steering wheel input would help it stay on the ground. When you let go of the steering wheel, the weight of the car pulls the steering back to its original position. This makes clear why steering wheel returns to center after turn.

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2. The Force Of Aligning Torque

A mechanism called “self-aligning torque” helps to align the wheels to the center. This torque is produced by the tires itself when you make a turn. Such a thing happens due to the difference in angles of the tire’s contact patch and the wheel’s path. The difference is measured in angles, known to be “slip angles.”

There is an additional axis of movement in the tire known as “pneumatic trail,” that too creates forces leading to centering the wheel. One can say that anything that generates torque contributes to aligning the wheels to its center.

3. Explaining The Reason

Technically, now you can tell why steering wheel returns to its center after rotation, but why it is necessary is still unanswered. The reason why a steering wheel returns to its original position is as it provides feedback to the driver. A car could not do without the centering effect as the whole driving experience would feel lifeless. Centering denotes as to how the tire produces a cornering force.

Imagine you are driving on a snow trail with bald tires and there is no centering effect. You could give the steering wheel a whole turn, and realize that you are still moving straight. This would be a result of no feedback that would further be a result of no wheel centering effect. You could also refer to driving tips for the understanding the difference between understeer and oversteer.

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Conclusion

Now you must be clear why steering wheel returns to center after turn. If there were no centering effect, you would not be able to enjoy the driving experience as much as you do. Lastly, steering rotation limitation makes you control your turning capabilities, making your driving experience a safer one.