Driving during the winter can be harsh to your hands. Just grabbing the steering wheel could feel like you’re dipping your hand into an ice bucket. Adding a heated steering wheel would be one way to make sure nothing like that ever happens again!
Heated steering wheels are optional upgrades for many new vehicles and can also be added aftermarket. Attaching a heated steering wheel cover is an additional option that many consider for winter use.
While all of these approaches will solve your issue of freezing cold hands, some of them will cost more than others. So, picking the right option depends on your purchasing budget.
Can You Add a Heated Steering Wheel Aftermarket?
Of course, you can add a heated steering wheel aftermarket. However, if you haven’t got one installed already, it could be costly. Adding a new heated steering wheel also involves quite a bit of labor.
Fully heated steering wheels are integrated with electronics. You can’t simply convert an existing steering wheel into a heated one.
You’d have to yank out the whole steering column. And, then you’d be able to replace it with an aftermarket steering wheel with heating.
You could use something else to accomplish a similar effect, thankfully. A lot of people prefer using a heated cover instead of replacing the whole wheel.
Pro tip: Take a look at my guide here for the best heated steering wheel covers for some excellent options!
Heated covers wrap around the existing steering wheel. They usually plug into the DC port on your cars. That’s where old-school cigarette lighters went. Nowadays, they’re mostly used to power electronics.
A heated cover provides ample warmth during the winter. And, they’re far less expensive than a new steering wheel.
If you’re on a budget, getting the cover might make more sense. Otherwise, you’re totally capable of getting an all-new steering wheel installed.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Heated Steering Wheel?
Just for the parts alone, you’d spend north of $1,000 if you’re getting a new steering wheel. Then, you’d have to factor in the cost of labor.
Some vehicles might have an aftermarket steering wheel for less than $1,000. The more luxurious your vehicle, the more it tends to cost.
Aftermarket parts are notorious for varying in price. Some of them might seem quite affordable. But, their quality might be lacking, though. Spending a little more on a quality part could be a good idea.
Replacing the existing steering wheel is no small task, either. You’ve got to yank out the whole steering column. Then, you’ll need to unhook the control module. At that point, you’d need to put the new one in place. After that, you’d need to hook everything back up again.
A lot of cars won’t let you take out the steering column without removing the whole dashboard. You’re talking about several hours of work at a minimum. Of course, you could do everything yourself. But, not everyone has the experience to feel comfortable doing that.
Paying someone else to do it is always a possibility. But, you might spend more on the labor than you would for the part.
There’s another option if you’d like a heating steering wheel, thankfully. You could just purchase a heated cover. These can cost less than $10. So, you don’t need a ton of money to get one of them.
Finally, if you’re looking into a new car, you could ask for a heated steering wheel. Adding one on a new vehicle is a lot simpler. The manufacturer could just have it added while it’s being built.
You’ll still pay some sort of premium certainly. But, it’s a lot more affordable than buying an aftermarket part and getting it installed.
Adding one to a new vehicle order might only add a couple of hundred bucks. So, it’s certainly worth thinking about, especially living up north.
Driving with a heated steering wheel feels much more comfortable during the winter. And, you won’t have to worry about wearing gloves in the car anymore, either. A lot of drivers feel like it’s a worthwhile investment because of all that.
How Do You Install a Heated Steering Wheel?
Let’s say you’ve decided to go the aftermarket route. That’s certainly a possibility. But, you’ll have a big project on your hands.
By far, the easiest thing to do would be to hire someone else to install it for you. Installing it yourself will depend on the type of vehicle.
First, you’d need to remove the existing steering wheel. Most of the time, you’ve got to remove the whole dashboard to do that. Then, you’d need to unscrew everything so you can remove it.
After removing the existing steering wheel, you’ll need to wire the new one. Since the old one wasn’t heated, it won’t have wiring you can trace. Plug up the new wheel into the fuse box in the engine bay.
Make sure everything is wired properly. You might want to look at your owner’s manual to ensure everything is done properly.
Then, you’ll want to screw the new wheel onto the steering column. After that’s done, you can replace the dashboard.
Installing a heated cover is far simpler. Just take the cover and wrap it around the existing wheel. Then, you’ve just got to plug it into the DC outlet. Most of the time, that’s somewhere on the dashboard. Sometimes, it’s located in the center console, though.
Once you’ve done that, it should work as soon as you start the car.
Do You Need a Heated Steering Wheel?
The benefits of a heated steering wheel are exceedingly obvious. You’ll never have to worry about cold hands while driving again.
Adding one could get expensive, though.
Still, if you’re worried about cold hands, a heated steering wheel would solve the problem.