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Old 19th April 2017, 21:48   #1
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Exclamation How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Ladies & Gents,

I've a bee in my bonnet. Answer this question please.

We all know how to modify pretty much every little thing in our cars, right? Engine? Yup! Brakes? Sure. Suspension? Bingo! Lights? Oui! Electronics such as speakers, head units, ICE? Absolutely! And thanks to some mind boggling modders here, we can even retrofit stuff like cruise control, auto lights, auto wipers, and god knows what else in our cars!!

BUT! There’s one thing we NEVER modify. At least not that I’ve seen anyone do it. And that’s the steering. Not the steering wheel in itself, which we can do obviously. No, what I’m talking about is the steering wheel feel & calibration. As in, some cars have a vague steering feel, some have an in-between feel, and some are absolutely magnificent! You get the drift? Why can’t we modify a Hyundai’s or Maruti’s steering rack or software to make it feel sharper?? Make the turn in more crisp and precise, make it feel more connected to the road and stuff so that it doesn't feel vague and disconnected all the time? And has someone even tried doing this??

I may sound like a noob asking a question like this . But please humor me. Why is it that we don’t touch the steering wheel and modify its feel & feedback? Any ideas? Is it because of complexity? Or any other reason?

Last edited by sourav9385 : 19th April 2017 at 21:49.
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Old 19th April 2017, 22:27   #2
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

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Originally Posted by sourav9385 View Post
Why is it that we donít touch the steering wheel and modify its feel & feedback? Any ideas? Is it because of complexity? Or any other reason?
Well, I canít speak for anybody else, but I have and you can read it here how I changed the steering box on my Alfa Romeo Spider for a different type.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/diy-do...ml#post4166871 (My Car Hobby: A lot of fiddling, and some driving too! Jaguar XJR, Mercedes W123 & Alfa Romeo Spider)

Lots of stuff you can change when it comes to steering feel and feedback. The obvious one is to start with tyres. Can have a huge impact on how the steering feels. Same is true for how the front (and to some extend) rear suspension geometry is set up. Lots of parts are available for most cars to beef/stiffen up steering (replacing every rubber bush for neoprene ones for instance. Stiffening frame/steering support.

On some cars a well known improvement is to fit a larger mounting plate on which the steering box sits. (i.e. stiffening up)

Again, I donít know about the aftermarket in India, but in the USA and Europe there are endless bits and pieces you can buy to modify the steering, suspension geometry set up.

On hydraulic steering there are modification kits about to adjust the level of assistance you are getting (more or less). Itís pretty straight forward just adjusting the output power of the pump. In some cases itís as simple as fitting a new flange and drive belt.

Iím not sure what is available on electrical steering racks in terms of adjusting the feel through the software settings. In theory this should be the easiest way. You only need a laptop, some software and a lot of knowledge of course.

Though I suspect this is tricky to say the very least and not sure if we have seen tuners dig into this part of the cars electronics yet.

Jeroen
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Old 19th April 2017, 23:59   #3
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

I think Jeroen has covered all the methods that can be used to modify the steering feel and feedback. I remember when I changed to a lower profile wider tyres on Honda City, the steering feel was the first thing that improved. The suspension setup plays a significant role in providing feedback through the steering wheel. So, when people modify tyres or suspension, they are essentially doing what you are asking.

The sports mode in many cars achieves the same effect by varying various parameters to give a more connected feel through the steering and throttle response.
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Old 20th April 2017, 00:16   #4
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Its a very interesting idea..

If you can make and sell a product which alters the accelerator pedal feel, why not a product which can vary the assist on the electronic steering wheel according to the user?
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Old 20th April 2017, 08:19   #5
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Thanks @sourav9385 for bringing up the topic.

Always when the reviewers would pan EPS for the lack of feel, or applaud the manufacturers when they get the tuning right, I would wonder. If something important like the ECU can be tuned and modified, why can't the EPS be also tuned with laptops.

Maybe the technical gurus can shed light on this.

Edit: Seems like on western forums they are citing complexity and lack of demand for steering tuning, that's why no development on the steering front.
http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=605531
http://blog.caranddriver.com/steer-m...steering-feel/

http://blog.caranddriver.com/steer-c...lectric-world/

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Old 20th April 2017, 09:03   #6
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

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Always when the reviewers would pan EPS for the lack of feel, or applaud the manufacturers when they get the tuning right, I would wonder. If something important like the ECU can be tuned and modified, why can't the EPS be also tuned with laptops.
I'll also elaborate on this, and this surely isn't as easy as it sounds nor it is any easier for the company to do so either - the reports on the latest Fiat Punto replacement, the Tipo indicate that it has lost a lot of steering feel and "authenticity", primarily due to EPS replacing the Punto's HPS.

By authenticity I mean that a steerings motion needs to be as natural as possible, nothing beats fluid in that department (hydraulics) which enables a smooth, consistent and reliable steering in most occasions. EPS is motor assisted, and the results are well, artificial.. I've driven every EPS from that of BMW, Ford, Maruti (including the overrated Swift) to the Hyundais, VW's and Hondas, hated all of them, fortunately there is something called variable steering modes in the BMW, and it being the most expensive of the lot, had the best steering of the lot as well - they simply put more expensive components into the steering assembly not to mention the low-profile hard tyres and huge alloys which does increase feedback, the bushings, the calibration of the motor etc.

I've said it before - tyres are the first and cheapest fix to improve steering feedback (softer, grippier tyres that grip the road and induce the feel) and handling (wider track that has more of the road to grip), next comes the bushes - quality ones are usually polyurethane bushes in the steering rack and lower control arms.. most replace the factory installed rubber bushes that are hard yet mushy for the most part. Then comes the part of using caster/camber to adjust the resistance thus increasing feel, this is not to be done drastically or even experimented with though, as other factors related to safety and tyre life will go for a toss.

Lastly it comes down to the type of EPS (since we can safely assume that EPS has taken over the steering world due to "emissions" optimization) :

C-EPS : Column mounted motor
P-EPS : Pinion mounted motor
R-EPS : Rack mounted motor
D-EPS : Motor embedded into the steering gear

Not sure at this moment which brand uses which type of steering, though its also size specific (PEPS in small cars, REPS in bigger cars etc). I will try to find out more about this and get back here to show how a motor mount can affect feedback and if at all it does. Also tuning the steering is kind of a hit and miss, BMW felt they had failed even in their best efforts to tune a sport steering properly so in the M4 they programmed the motor to cut off as the steering returned to straight from the turn, this they said enabled better feedback on the return and an authentic feel of smooth motion which the driver can enjoy. In terms of a solid, ressuring steering (only steering mind you) I found the cars with NO power steering at all the best to drive, then its HPS and the last and least - the EPS.
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Old 20th April 2017, 12:10   #7
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

One "steering" modification that is apparently possible is reducing the steering ratio - although I don't think it will affect 'steering feel'. In our Tata Vista, when I turn the steering wheel plus or minus 10 degrees from the straight ahead position, um.. nothing happens. Turn the steering a bit more and the wheels start turning slowly. This can be improved with something called 'steering quickener'.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-2-1-Quic...-/322286385739

How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?-circle-track-steering-shaft.jpg

A faster steering significantly enhances driving pleasure, and imparts a feeling of nimbleness. IMO, this is more important than a mod that improves steering feel/feedback.
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Old 20th April 2017, 12:53   #8
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Larger wheels also help. There's more rigid metal turning with the hubs, and less rubber sidewall that distorts and flexes during turns.

In terms of feedback, an increased negative offset also adds more "feedback" to the steering, as it simply puts more leverage on the system.


Personally, I believe that an EPS can be pretty darn good - perhaps even better and more 'direct' than an HPS in some ways, however, most companies aren't putting the required R&D and parts budget into making it so.

Last edited by Rehaan : 20th April 2017 at 12:57.
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Old 20th April 2017, 13:15   #9
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Quite a few responses so far. Thanks you gents!

I don't understand why people don't customize the steering! If I knew how to, I definitely would! I, for one, love a quick steering with decent feedback. Not a fan of the uber communicative type though, or the ones that require me to visit the gym daily in order to turn the wheel. Drove a colleagues Ford Fiesta ST recently, and the steering was quite good! Not overly heavy but not even remotely vague. Sort of...just right.

After driving that, I remembered the vague and ultra light steering feel in our i20. I don't hate it tbh, but I don't love it either. Which is why I wanted to know why we don't alter the steering feel. If we could, the i20 would be so much better to drive! And considering most steering systems are electronic, isn't there any way we can tweak the software to make it more responsive? Changing parts in India won't be that easy. And Hyundai service centers most certainly won't be able to do anything about it.
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Old 20th April 2017, 13:18   #10
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

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Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
I'll also elaborate on this, and this surely isn't as easy as it sounds nor it is any easier for the company to do so either - the reports on the latest Fiat Punto replacement, the Tipo indicate that it has lost a lot of steering feel and "authenticity", primarily due to EPS replacing the Punto's HPS.
AFAIK Fiat Grande Punto in Europe always had a EPS, India got a different steering. Not sure what was offered in Brazil.
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Old 20th April 2017, 13:33   #11
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Complex is the word that first comes to mind when you say this.

Especially since most modern steerings are EPS units. Remember, weight and feedback are two different things altogether.

You might be able to change the way in which the EPS ways up, feedback ?
Nope. I don't think so. Only to a certain extent. The feedback of the EPS depends on the way the manufacturer has engineered it.

Regards,
Vishy
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Old 20th April 2017, 20:34   #12
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Default re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

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In our Tata Vista, when I turn the steering wheel plus or minus 10 degrees from the straight ahead position, um.. nothing happens.
I'm aware of the steering quickener, and as expected the Ebay listing mentions nothing of the dangers of installing it. They are as follows :

- In an unassisted steering (non-power steering) rack it'll increase weight tremendously, one cannot use the steering after that.

- In a collapsible steering, it can cause malfunction of collapse, hampering safety totally.

- In an assisted steering setup it'll put strain on the motor/pump.. I read reports of motor failing and pump leaking after install.

- One person put a 2:1 quickener in a Bronco and took it on highways only to land on the grass way off the road when he intended to take a turn, its not meant for any car, specially not SUV's or commuter hatchbacks with a chassis and suspension that simply cannot keep up.

- Precision is ok and all but speed with precision is only capable by a few cars, even a 1.5:1 quickener would mean plenty of corrections unnecessarily in day-to-day traffic.

Given all that, these add-ons are best avoided.

Back to topic, yes I agree that weight and feedback are different, but they are connected. For feedback to happen, there must be enough disturbances that can be transferred from the tyres, to the suspension, onto the rack and into the wheel. Its pure physics that weight increases the feel - that is the reason that many people in colder countries put steel wheels (heavier than alloys) combined with winter tyres during winter, the weight gives a planted feel and the traction improves with it. Feedback is tricky, make the suspension stiff and tyres low profile with hard springs and you'll get feedback even thru the seats that'll feel like a spine jackhammer, make the suspension/springs soft and tyres and bushes cushiony with a very generous pliability and people will call it a boat with a video-game steering, I'd hate to be working on such aspects. The best tuned are the ones following the middle-ground, and everything else depends on personal choice.
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Old 21st April 2017, 21:12   #13
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Default Re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Lets say, I just disconnect the "power assistance" for the steering (hps). No assistance at all.
Is it that simple?

What could be the risk of this? Yes, the steering at standstill will be very heavy? But what else?


Would it be as simple to disconnect, in case of an ES?
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Old 21st April 2017, 21:15   #14
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Default Re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Are there tuners in Bombay who could modify steering feel & feedback? It could completely transform my '06 Honda City.
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Old 21st April 2017, 21:58   #15
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Default Re: How come no one modifies the Steering Wheel's feel & feedback?

Every time I drive my Ertiga after driving my Nano XTA, this very same question comes to my mind. Nano has a very light steering and Ertiga (Maruti in general I think) has a comparatively heavy steering at low speeds. I've asked my Maruti service team if something can be done to make Ertiga steering lighter, but nothing in positive.

It was the same behavior with my earlier Ritz. After driving any 2 lane roads with winding/climbing sections, my shoulders will complain.
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