The farmer, the mom and the magic piece of metal

There are always moments when we’re feeling the desire to upgrade our Saabs with new toys. Either for improvement of something or just for fun. Timing is a factor here. My 9-3 convertible reached 100.000 km without any serious failures, so he deserved an upgrade. My choice was a Maptun steering wheel and the front strut brace and here is the experience with them.

Do you know how to properly hold the steering wheel ? Is it 10 and 2 or 9 and 3 o’clock ? There are discussions about this topic all the time. Teachers in driving schools and these advanced “sliding schools” are teaching it. But many drivers ignore it.

The result is this :

What about you ? The farmer or the mom ? Or honestly, all of you are race car drivers ?

Nearly all the recent advises are showing that there is a shift from 10 and 2 to 9 and 3. Besides the rule of not crossing your arms, there is another reason : airbags. At 10 and 2 your arms are in danger in the moment of airbag activation, when the plastic airbag cover on the steering wheel can cause serious injuries . And we all want to keep all our fingers for the longest time possible.

Maptun had this aspects in mind for sure while designing it’s steering wheel. At 9 and 3 positions are a places for a perfect fit for the thumbs. Thumbs up for this. The steering wheel reminds a bit on the Griffin wheel but it feels a bit softer and is thicker. This makes it to a more dominant part of the dashboard than the standard one. My fear, that the more structured surface will be a hurdle in smooth steering in the city was not confirmed at all.

The second upgrade looks for the first moment as a formed piece of metal with a logo on it. In fact the look itself doesn’t raise confidence that it does the job it’s intended to do. But I’ve risked it, because of advises on several forums and trust that a tuner such as Maptun would not produce things without function.

My convertible has 275 HP / 400 Nm (V6 + Hirsch). The Aero chassis seemed to be at the limit and sometimes situations with torque steering appeared. That wasn’t a good feeling at all. Also while not having a fixed metal roof, sometimes there was that feeling of “spinning” the chassis. A common place for improvement here.

This is now all gone. The car is much more stable, feels more robust and drives more smoothly. As it would be from one piece instead of many parts. Because of one piece of formed metal with a logo on it.

I liked also the very friendly approach of Maptun. Sure, it’s business, but also a lot of fan heart to feel on the background. After 5000 km, half of it on (sometimes very) fast german autobahns, I am satisfied. My Saab is definitely better now. More stable, more enjoyable. I should have done it sooner.

Alex []

23 thoughts on “The farmer, the mom and the magic piece of metal”

  1. Don’t you mean 10 and 2, that is what I was taught on my advanced drivers course, 8 and 2 would seem a little “cock-eyed” to me, good point about the risk of injury from the air-bag though!

  2. That would be no good for me. That slippery bit of plastic at the bottom would be hard to grip with my knees. A cup in a cupholder’s all very well, but you need to use your hands to drink from it. I only use my hands on serious bends, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to text, drink coffee, and shave on the way to work!

    (hang on a minute…. I don’t work any more….)

  3. I never understand why people would steer with only one hand on top, it doesn’t even feel comfortable to me. Either way, the ‘thumbs getting blown off by the airbag’-story was actually busted by the mythbusters:
    Makes sense too, as the airbag shoots forward and never sideways. Still I prefer the 9 to 3 grip. Although while cruising it’s usually left hand race driver and right hand mum…

    • > I never understand why people would steer with only one hand on top, it doesn’t even feel comfortable to me.

      Because it “looks cool” o_O

  4. Saw some drivers adopting 11-1 position and they hold the steering wheel tight as if the steering wheel may jump ship and run away. Noticed these are new drivers on Toyotas.

    • if you under “graphic” mean the photo, than thank you. If you mean the steering wheel itself, than Maptun for sure loves your post as well .)

  5. In a defensive driving course I was taught to use the mom grip (5-7) by a racing instructor no less. Best place to have your hands if the air bags go off was his reason. He had seen or heard of too many people having the airbags throw the driver’s arms in the driver’s face causing some serious injuries when your arms are higher.

    I usually don’t drive with my hands that low but I don’t like getting them higher than 9-3 if I can help it.

  6. During the Summer I bought 2 wheel covers, one for my Viggen, with red accents to match the car. The other was a gray accented one to match my 9-5. Both had three inserts but I deliberately installed the padding upside-down (the opposite to the photo). This is for one serious reason; if the airbag deploys it would force the arms into your face causing damage.

    This is why I now drive at 20 to 4. It is less strain on my arms and the wheel cover desensitize my nerves in my palms. The 3 million miles of driving have caused carpal tunnel and the wheel covers really make a difference and save me driving with gloves.

    • re normal driving : yes. you get that “the car is more a one piece instead of completed from several parts” feeling. A kind of a robustness.It reminded me on that feeling when I’ve changed the wheels to a bigger size (non Saab, years in the past).

      Also if you are on an uneven road, where one lane is deeper and has “waves” (because of trucks etc), when you change the lanes, you come much faster into stability. Or when you go over a side-walk into a garage (my case), the convertible suffers less.

  7. The 9 and 3 position has been the recommendation for more than a decade instead of the 10 and 2 position. The aibag deploying isn’t really a “thumbs” issue as much as it is the arms being pushed into the face when the hands are above the 9 and 3 position. Likewise, hands positioned below 9 and 3, for example, at 7:30 and 4:30, is also an effective position, especially with the design of the 9-3 steering wheel, when you use the shuffle steering method.

    With shuffle steering, you never have to cross your arms completely across the center of the wheel (and airbag) as with the hand-over-hand steering method. Shuffle steering keeps each hand/arm on each side of the wheel, respectively. And the lower position is more comfortable since you are not expending the energy to raise your arms to achieve the 9 and 3 position. With shuffle steering, there are a range of positions (at or below 9 and 3) to hold the wheel when essentially driving straight.

  8. I hold the wheel at either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4. Keep the airbag in mind – if you hold it at 10 and 2 or at the douchebag position and you get into a wreck, you will lose control of the car AND likely end up with broken wrists when the airbag goes off. If you hold it at 8 and 4 at least you will be able to maintain control if you’re sideswiped or rear ended hard enough to set off the airbag (or if debris falls off a truck in front if you and you’re forced to drive over it) and will not break your wrists.

    A related question, somewhat related: when you turn your car, do you go hand-over-hand, or do you just shift the wheel position under your hands, sort of “shuffling” the wheel? I do hand-over-hand only in tight areas, or when driving a truck, otherwise I shift positions, “shuffling” the wheel, keeping my left hand between 8 and 10, and my right hand between 2 and 4.

    • You may or may not have directed the realted question to me but since I brought up shuffle steering, I’ll give it a try….

      I shifted over to shuffle steering over 5 years ago. In the earlier years, when fast action was needed, habit would take me to hand-over-hand but that fades with time. The shuffling style can vary depending on the need. You can shuffle using a small range of each side of the wheel as you described or the whole range. The latter is used when you want faster wheel turning (e.g., parking) but that’s not needed under most driving conditions.

      • No it wasn’t directed at you, your post wasn’t there when I started typing. Great minds think alike I guess! 🙂

        I switched to shuffle steering many years ago. Hand-over-hand is convenient in parking lots and when backing a trailer, but a bad driving habit otherwise. Hand-over-hand is a hard habit to break!

  9. At the Saab Aero Academy, they were absolutely adamant about 9 and 3 for safety, control and airbags. I’m happy to accept Saab as the ultimate authority on driving!

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