In some countries, located in Europe especially, there are workshops and car services that recently developed the skill to change the steering wheel for a car from the right side to the left side because of the high demand. But why?
There are a few countries in the world where cars are driven on the left side with the steering wheel on the right, of course. A great example is the UK where cars that are manufactured with the steering wheel on the right are specifically destined to this location, because of that matter and road legislation, while the opposite fact is true for the rest of the countries.
Also, the main reason why some people want to change the steering wheel side from right to left, although this is a hard operation si the cheap price of the cars.
Car sellers, companies, and some dealerships adopt this method of changing the steering wheel from right to left to make a profit.
Remaining in the UK area, here is a known fact that for older cars the insurance price keeps rising so owners sell their car for a low price and buy a new one.
Many cars sold are in good condition, so car sellers and companies buy them at a very good price, bring them to another country, and change the steering wheel side.
What cars can change the steering wheel from right to left?
Cars that can be transformed from right-hand drive to left-hand drive are those models that were manufactured and sold in both variants. It is not possible to change the steering wheel side for a car that was manufactured only with the steering wheel on the right because you won’t find the necessary pieces for this operation.
However, most car brands, especially popular models were manufactured and sold in both variants.
As I have mentioned above, to change the steering wheel from right to left, you need a donor car. A good place to find this car is a good junkyard.
Finding a good car in a junkyard is not an easy task, so you will have to be careful, and inspect every piece you need to be in good condition. Here you can find a helpful guide for a good car junkyard.
What parts are needed to move the steering wheel from right to left?
Changing the steering wheel from right to left is not an easy task, you will need a lot of parts for this operation that you will mostly find in a junkyard.
The drawback is that your car, already used, will receive a set of second-hand parts from the donor car, some parts may be in better condition than your car’s similar ones, and others in not that good condition.
Another disadvantage is that is a great chance that you will not find all the pieces needed in one car, you will need the find more donor cars to complete the necessary pieces for the conversion.
You will need the same parts from a similar make and model of your car, that has the same engine as yours, the same year of production as yours. You will need to search for the same car as yours that has the steering wheel on the left.
The parts you will need are:
- the dashboard, ie the outer housing, from a car with a steering wheel on the left;
- the metallic skeleton of the dashboard from an identical car to the steering wheel on the left;
- steering box from a car with a steering wheel on the left;
- the pipes from the brake pump and power steering, in some cases even the pump;
- complete pedal assembly from a car with the steering wheel on the left;
- wipe assembly, if the long wiper is on the right;
- headlights from a car with the steering wheel on the left;
- side mirrors, in some cases where they are different (the Volkswagen-Audi group has a small mirror on the passenger side);
- door faces or just the control panel of windows and electric mirrors;
- the front seats from a car with a steering wheel on the left;
- in some cases, the central armrest from a car with a steering wheel on the left;
- the flame retardant panel, the one that separates the engine from the car interior, if it does not come with the holes already made for both steering wheels;
- annexes on the board: block of lights, ornaments, air intakes, etc.
- the stops or just the fog stops.
The process of converting a right-hand-drive car to left-hand-drive
In this difficult process of conversion, the first thing that specialized mechanics do is to remove the engine. With the engine removed there will be precious space to work, and space is not the only reason.
In older car models, with fewer electronics and electric wires is harder to remove the engine, but once removed it’s much easier to work.
The engine is removed to easily mount the steering column, brake pump, and even the steering box/rack, but, most importantly, the entire electrical installation. Removing and installing an engine in its place comes with additional risks and expenses.
The engine is removed to have access to the fireproof panel. This panel separates the car cabin from the engine compartment. Most German cars have the same panel for both right-hand drive and left-hand drive cars, and these are just a few happy cases.
Other car models have separate fireproof panels so you need the part from a left-hand-drive car. This panel requires new adjustments for the steering column, pedal assembly, and electrical installation, which means extra hours of labor and extra costs.
Another thing to notice is that this fireproof panel has to be welded in the place of the original one, and this is the worst part because, after a few years, it will rust, so this is a risk you have to take.
The order in which the engine is removed depends on the workshop that does this change, some will start with the interior, while others, will start with the engine removal.
In the car interior, the dashboard is removed, followed by the dashboard frame, electric installation, and central console, not specifically in that order. After that the installation of the LHD wires, frame, central console, and dashboard.
Changing the steering wheel side requires a new electrical installation. Because this is a difficult task to achieve, most workshops adapt the original electric installation. All cables leading to the steering wheel, including the light block and the wiper lever, must be extended.
Some cables require extensions that are installed, isolated, and fixed very well, and here I’m referring to the wires responsible for the electrical window on the left, mirror wires.
Airbags are the easiest to move from one side to another, and if you don’t mind the front seats, then they will not be moved at all, only if you care much about your comfort as a driver, you could install the seat you like.
How long does it take to change the steering wheel from right to left?
Because it’s a difficult operation, the conversion of the steering wheel side depends on who makes this operation, and the time you will gather all the required pieces for this process.
Regarding car services, you need to pick one that has done this operation several times and provides a warranty for this process. A cable that was incorrectly mounted or cut can cause the entire car to malfunction, or lots of errors.
Of course, it will not be exactly like a car that came out from the manufacturer but it is possible to have a well-done job.
In specialized workshops, the average time needed for changing the steering wheel from right to left is about 6 to 10 days. It could take much longer if you don’t have the necessary parts.
How much does it cost to change the steering wheel from the right to left?
The answer depends on the make and model of the car. For older cars, prices in the junkyard are low, but if your car is in the 10-12 age range then expect to pay, on average, 1000$ – 1800$ for the necessary parts. This price is not exact, it could be chapter or more expensive if the car you’re interested in is in high demand for second-hand parts.
Also, the labor will cost you between 550 $ and 800 $, but this price can reach up to 1400 $ if it is a difficult car to convert. On the market there are offers between 490 $ and 1100 $ on average, some offers are dedicated to certain types of cars.
Is it legal to drive a car that has the steering wheel moved to the left?
Laws in some countries do not prohibit this practice, as long as the operation of removing and assembling the parts has been performed in an authorized service. However, legislation differs in most countries so it’s better to be informed before doing so.
It’s worth changing the steering wheel from right to left?
It’s up to you to decide. As I have mentioned several times in this article, this is not an easy task to do, few workshops are doing this the right way. It is difficult to find these workshops.
The car parts needed for this operation are quite a few. You will need to find the same car model and year of production with the steering wheel on the left. It’s a good chance you won’t find all these parts at a junkyard in the same car so you will need to look for another similar car elsewhere.
It’s worth changing the steering wheel side if you are a seller and want to make extra money. Although is a difficult process, it is achievable.
Video of the conversion of the steering wheel from right to left