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Where do you put your hands on the steering wheel when towing?

Where do you put your hands on the steering wheel when towing?

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Reader question:

Hello Robert, first off, many thanks for your very informative video’s . ( the best on Youtube, by far) please keep them coming. I tell others to watch them.
After watching your videos ( on sway, in particular) it highlighted to me, my, long held belief that drivers, when towing, ‘generally’ should NOT have their hands at ‘1/4 to 3, or 10 to 2’ etc. ( eg: driving like a racing car driver)
I have towed caravans for decades and have an interest in how people drive/reverse etc.
When towing at highway speed it only takes a minuscule amount of steering wheel travel to move in the lane. so I drive with my hands generally at the bottom of the wheel. which provides additional support ( door armrest etc) which is important when trucks pass etc. also if fatigued (not good) your arms have less distance to travel.
BTW I also reverse using the same hand location, as small moments are often required when reversing a caravan. ( despite what is often taught, eg ‘left hand down’ etc)
I would be interested in your views on this, as I wonder if the sudden movements that ‘can’ occur in a sway is made worse by peoples hand position. ( as they learn to drive a vehicle that way)
thanks for your time, it is much appreciated.

The modern car-based vehicle – as in anything past about 1980 – is designed to be best controlled with a 9-3 (clock code) grip. This is the only grip taught in any racing school, and for good reason. The 9-3 grip has the hands furthest apart for best control and feedback from the steering wheel. It is also a symmetrical grip, so the left hand moves up same distance as the right moves down.

The vehicles where this grip doesn’t apply are light trucks which have their steering wheel at a flatter angle, and have a larger steering wheel. These are best driven with a 10-2 grip, as are very old cars for the same reason. This video fully explains steering technique for 4X4s and fast cars:

However, what I’ve described so far is all about best vehicle control. But if you’re on a long trip, hours and hours, you can’t be in the same position all the time, you need to change things up. My suggestion, which I learned from a pro driver, is to keep one hand either at the 9 or 3 position, and rest the other somewhere else. That way, if needs be, one hand is already in position and that helps because you never know when you might need to flash that resting hand back to the steering wheel.

When at low speeds eg reversing then steering wheel technique makes much less difference, pretty much whatever works for you.

As for sway – that tends to start by factors other than the driver such as a wind gust, rush of air from an oncoming truck, speeding up downhill, or hitting a pothole. Nothing I’ve seen, read or researched indicates steering wheel hold is a problem for sway. Whilst on the subject, don’t try and steer out of sway. The problem with doing so is that by the time you feel your car yawing one way, the caravan is yawing the other way. Imagine trying to reverse your caravan at 100km/h…well, it’s even harder than that! The best thing to do is simply hold the throttle steady and apply the trailer brake only. Watch the video below to see how it works.

Robert Pepper Automotive journalist specialising in 4X4s, sportscars, camping and future tech.

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