How To Replace A Boat Steering Wheel

When it’s time to upgrade your boat, replacing the steering wheel can be a rewarding and practical enhancement. It gives your boat a better overall appearance and guarantees easier control and maneuverability. But how should one go about doing it? Fear not just follow the process:

To begin, you’ll need a tapered shaft to the six-bolt adapter, a wrench or socket set, a puller tool, and a new steering wheel that matches your boat’s specifications. Now, carefully remove the old steering wheel, making sure to disconnect any electrical connections or trim switches if present.

Next, prepare the new steering wheel by attaching the tapered shaft to the six-bolt adapter, ensuring a secure fit. Then, align the wheel properly and fasten it tightly using the appropriate wrench or socket.

But the process does not finish there. This guide examines additional procedures to ensure a smooth transition and includes crucial testing and troubleshooting advice. So let’s get started!

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How to Measure for a New Steering Wheel

One of the essential procedures in replacing the steering wheel on your yacht is taking measurements for the new one. By taking precise measurements, you may choose a replacement steering wheel that fits flawlessly and performs as intended.

Determine the Wheel Diameter

To begin, you’ll need to measure the diameter of your old steering wheel. The diameter refers to the distance across the wheel’s widest point. This measurement is typically expressed in inches.

You can use a measuring tape or a ruler to get an accurate measurement. Ensure that the tape or ruler is positioned horizontally across the center of the wheel, and note the measurement.

Consider the Wheel Style and Grip

In addition to the diameter, it’s essential to consider the style and grip of the steering wheel. The style refers to the design and appearance of the wheel, such as a classic wooden wheel or a modern stainless steel one.

The grip refers to the texture and feel of the wheel, which can vary from smooth to textured or even ergonomic designs.

Evaluate the Mounting Type

There are generally two types: a center cap mount or a spoke mount. A center cap mount features a cap in the center of the wheel that covers the retaining nut, while a spoke mount has exposed retaining nuts located on the wheel’s spokes. Take note of the mounting type of your current steering wheel for a suitable replacement.

Check Compatibility with the Steering Shaft

It’s crucial to ensure that the replacement steering wheel is compatible with your boat’s steering shaft. Most steering shafts have a standard taper, usually ¾-inch tapered shafts.

Check the specifications of the replacement steering wheel to verify compatibility. If you’re unsure about your boat’s steering shaft size, consult your boat’s manual or contact a marine mechanic for assistance.

Consider Additional Features or Accessories

While measuring for a new steering wheel, you may also want to consider additional features or accessories.

For example, some steering wheels have integrated controls for electronic systems or a hub adapter to fit different shaft sizes.

Assess your needs and preferences to choose a steering wheel with the desired features and functionality.

Remember, accurate measurements are crucial to ensure the new steering wheel’s proper fit and functionality. Prior to making a replacement purchase, take your time measuring and confirming your measurements.

Choosing the Right Steering Wheel for Your Boat

Several essential factors must be considered when selecting a new steering wheel for your boat. We will discuss these factors, including the materials and designs suitable for marine environments. We will also highlight popular brands and models you may want to consider.

Factors to Consider

A new steering wheel should consider durability, aesthetics, and practicality. Keep the following in mind:

  • Durability: Since a boat’s steering wheel is exposed to various weather conditions and saltwater, it’s crucial to choose a steering wheel made from durable materials that can withstand corrosion and UV rays.
  • Aesthetics: The steering wheel is not only a functional component but also a visual focal point of your boat’s helm. Consider the design and style of the steering wheel that complements the overall aesthetics of your boat.
  • Grip and Comfort: Look for a steering wheel that provides a comfortable grip, especially during long hours of boating. Some steering wheels offer ergonomic designs or rubberized grips for enhanced comfort.
  • Functionality: Depending on your specific needs, you may want to consider steering wheels with additional features, such as integrated controls for electronics or compatibility with autopilot systems.

Materials and Designs

Materials that can withstand the harsh sea environment are typically chosen to build boat steering wheels. Common construction materials include wood, polyurethane, aluminum, and stainless steel.

  • Stainless steel steering wheels are highly durable, resistant to corrosion, and provide a sleek and modern look. Both powerboats and sailboats frequently choose them.
  • Aluminum steering wheels offer excellent strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance. They are lightweight and suitable for various boat types.
  • Polyurethane steering wheels provide a comfortable grip and excellent durability. They can withstand ultraviolet radiation, salt water, and severe weather.
  • Wooden steering wheels offer a classic and timeless aesthetic appeal. They frequently feature high-quality timbers like mahogany or teak and can give your boat’s helm a touch of luxury.


Steering wheels come in various designs, including traditional spoked wheels, solid wheels, and custom designs. Consider the design that matches your boat’s style and your personal preferences.

Popular Brands and Models

There are several reputable brands known for manufacturing high-quality boat steering wheels. Some popular brands and models to consider include:

  • Schmitt & Ongaro Known for their stainless steel and polyurethane steering wheels, Schmitt & Ongaro offers a range of stylish and durable options.
  • Edson produces a wide variety of steering wheels, including both classic wooden wheels and modern stainless steel designs.
  • SeaStar Solutions is a well-known brand offering steering wheels made from stainless steel and other durable materials suitable for various boat types.
  • Uflex manufactures steering wheels with innovative designs and ergonomic features, providing enhanced comfort and control.

When selecting a steering wheel, consider your budget, preferences, and the specific requirements of your boat. It’s always a good idea to read reviews, consult with boating experts, and visit marine supply stores to explore the options available.

How Do You Replace A Boat Steering Wheel: The Process

Okay, now, let’s begin the step-by-step instructions for changing a boat steering wheel. The procedure is broken down in detail below:

Step 1: Gather the Tools and Materials

Before you begin, ensure you have all the necessary equipment and materials. You will require the following materials for this project:

  • New steering wheel (with a six-bolt pattern and the correct shaft diameter)
  • Tapered shaft to six-bolt adapter
  • Wrench or socket set
  • Lubricating grease
  • Hammer

Step 2: Remove the Old Steering Wheel

  • Locate the nut or bolt securing the old steering wheel to the shaft. In this instance, a three-quarter-inch nut is attached to a threaded bolt.
  • Loosen the nut or bolt, but do not remove it completely. If you have a threaded bolt, back it out a bit. This step is crucial to prevent the steering wheel from flying off when you remove it.
  • The old steering wheel might be stuck due to metal-on-metal pressure. To free it, use a hammer and give the nut or bolt a few solid smacks. This tapping trick should pop the wheel of the shaft.
  • Once the steering wheel is loose, fully remove the nut or bolt and the washer to take the old wheel off completely.

Step 3: Prepare the New Steering Wheel

  • Apply a small amount of lubricating grease to the shaft’s tapered end. This will ease the installation of the new steering wheel.
  • Take the tapered shaft to a six-bolt adapter and insert the rounded end into the keyed section of the shaft. Ensure it’s properly aligned and secure.

Step 4: Install the New Steering Wheel

  • Position the new steering wheel onto the adapter with the six-bolt pattern facing outwards.
  • Insert the top bolt through one of the bolt holes and loosely tighten it.
  • Proceed to insert the remaining bolts one by one, tightening them loosely as well. This method allows for proper alignment and adjustment before final tightening.
  • Once all bolts are in place, tighten them evenly and firmly using the wrench or socket set. Follow a diagonal pattern to ensure uniform pressure on the wheel.

Step 5: Check the Steering Wheel Alignment

  • After tightening the bolts, check that the steering wheel is straight and properly centered.
  • Turn the wheel gently from side to side to confirm smooth movement.

Step 6: Test the New Steering Wheel

  • With the steering wheel securely attached, start the boat’s engine (if applicable) and test the steering. Ensure that it functions properly and responds smoothly to your input.
  • While stationary, turn the steering wheel fully in both directions to ensure there are no obstructions or interference.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully replaced your old boat steering wheel with a new, stylish one. Remember to dispose of the old steering wheel responsibly.

What Are The Benefits of Replacing Your Steering Wheel?

Replacing your boat’s steering wheel can offer several benefits that enhance your boating experience. Here are some advantages of making this upgrade:

Improved Aesthetics

The aesthetic improvement that comes with upgrading your boat’s steering wheel is one of its most obvious advantages.

A new steering wheel may give the helm of your boat a more elegant and contemporary appearance.

To complement the inside of your boat or to add a personal touch, you may pick from a variety of styles, materials, and colors.

Enhanced Comfort

Older steering wheels may show signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or faded surfaces, making them uncomfortable to hold. A new steering wheel usually comes with improved ergonomics, offering a more comfortable grip and reducing hand fatigue during extended boating trips.

Better Grip and Control

Many new steering wheels feature advanced materials like rubberized coatings or ergonomic contours that provide a better grip. With improved control over your boat’s steering, you can navigate more precisely, especially during tight maneuvers or adverse weather conditions.

Durability and Longevity

High-quality modern steering wheels are often constructed with durable materials that can withstand harsh marine environments. Choosing a corrosion-resistant steering wheel ensures that it will maintain its integrity and aesthetics over time.


A crucial component of watercraft safety is steering. A brand-new steering wheel with a reliable mechanism guarantees that you always have complete control over your boat. The danger of accidents brought on by defective steering is decreased by replacing a worn-out or dysfunctional steering wheel.

Compatibility with Modern Features

If you have an older boat, the original steering wheel might not be compatible with modern boating features and technologies. Upgrading to a new steering wheel can allow for easy integration with features like autopilot systems or electronic navigation displays.


A steering wheel replacement provides an opportunity for personalization. You can choose a wheel that reflects your individual style and preferences, making your boat’s helm unique to you.

Increased Resale Value

Upgrading essential components of your boat, like the steering wheel, can positively impact its resale value. Prospective buyers are often attracted to boats with well-maintained and upgraded features, leading to a potentially higher resale price.

Easier Maintenance

Some modern steering wheels are designed for easy maintenance. They may have smooth surfaces that are simple to clean, ensuring they look good and function well with minimal effort.

Psychological Satisfaction

Replacing your boat’s steering wheel can bring a sense of satisfaction and pride to your vessel. It’s a relatively simple upgrade that can significantly improve your overall boating experience.

Overall, replacing your boat’s steering wheel is a worthwhile investment that combines functional benefits with aesthetic appeal. It contributes to the overall enjoyment and safety of your boating adventures.

How to Troubleshoot Installation Problems

If you encounter installation problems while replacing your boat’s steering wheel, here are some troubleshooting steps to help you resolve them:

Double-check Compatibility

Ensure the new steering wheel is compatible with your boat’s steering system. For a correct fit, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s given standards and criteria. You might have to send the steering wheel back or swap it out for another one if there is a mismatch.

Inspect the Steering Wheel Hub Adapter

The steering wheel hub adapter connects the steering wheel to the steering system. Make sure it is installed correctly and securely. If the adapter is loose or improperly aligned, it can cause installation issues.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the hub adapter installation and verify that it is compatible with both the steering wheel and your boat’s steering system.

Verify the Steering Wheel Mounting

Check the mounting mechanism of the new steering wheel. It may use a bolt or a quick-release mechanism to secure it to the hub adapter.

Ensure the mounting mechanism is appropriately aligned and tightened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Over or under-tightening can cause installation problems or affect the steering wheel’s functionality.

Examine Wiring Connections (if applicable)

If your new steering wheel has any electrical components, such as buttons, switches, or a horn, ensure that the wiring connections are secure.

Loose or improperly connected wires can result in malfunctioning features or non-functional controls.

Double-check the wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer and verify that all connections are correct.

Check for Interference

Make sure that the new steering wheel does not interfere with other components or controls in your boat’s helm area. Verify that there is enough clearance for the steering wheel to rotate freely without obstruction. Adjustments may be necessary to ensure proper clearance and functionality.

Seek Professional Assistance

It could be helpful to look for expert help if you have tried the aforementioned methods and are still having installation issues. When it comes to your boat’s steering system, a marine technician or boat mechanic can offer knowledge and advice as well as assist with any problems you might be having.

Tips And Tricks for Replacing A Boat Steering Wheel

When replacing a boat steering wheel, here are some tips and tricks to ensure a smooth and successful installation:

Research and Preparation

Before purchasing a new steering wheel, conduct thorough research to ensure compatibility with your boat’s steering system. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations, specifications, and measurements. Prior to beginning the installation procedure, collect all the required equipment and supplies.

Read the Instructions

Carefully read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the new steering wheel. Each steering wheel may have specific installation steps and requirements. Following the instructions will help you avoid mistakes and ensure a proper fit.

Mark the Original Wheel’s Position

Before removing the old steering wheel, mark its position relative to the steering shaft or hub adapter. This reference point will help align the new steering wheel correctly, maintaining the original steering wheel’s position.

Use Lubrication

Apply a small amount of lubrication, such as silicone spray or grease, to the steering shaft or hub adapter. This will make it easier to slide the new steering wheel onto the shaft and ensure a snug fit. Be careful not to apply excessive lubrication, which can cause the steering wheel to slip or rotate unintentionally.

Hand-Tighten Bolts or Nuts

When attaching the new steering wheel to the hub adapter, begin by hand-tightening the bolts or nuts. This allows you to align the steering wheel properly before fully securing it.

Once aligned, use the appropriate tools to tighten the bolts or nuts according to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications. Avoid over-tightening, as it may damage the components.

Verify Functionality

After installing the new steering wheel, test its functionality before taking your boat out on the water. Turn the wheel in both directions to ensure smooth and responsive steering. Double-check the installation steps and consult the manufacturer’s instructions if there are any issues or abnormalities.

Maintain Regular Inspections

Periodically inspect the steering wheel and its components to ensure they remain in good condition. Check for any signs of wear, loose bolts, or damaged parts. Regular maintenance and inspections will help identify potential issues early on and ensure safe and reliable steering.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Do You Know If You Need A New Steering Wheel?

You might need to replace the steering wheel if your boat is challenging to drive or if it seems loose.

  • What Are The Risks Associated With Replacing Your Steering Wheel?

The boat could be difficult to maneuver or possibly tip over if the steering wheel is not placed correctly.

  • How Often Should You Replace Your Steering Wheel?

It is generally recommended to replace your steering wheel every five years.

Final Say

Replacing a steering wheel can be a worthwhile upgrade for your boat, offering several benefits such as improved comfort, aesthetics, and functionality.

It allows for a personalized touch and enhances your steering experience on the water. While installation problems may arise, troubleshooting and careful preparation can overcome most issues.

Following the provided step-by-step guide, along with the tips and tricks mentioned, you can successfully replace your boat’s steering wheel and enjoy its advantages.

Remember to prioritize safety and consult professionals when necessary. Upgrade your boat’s steering wheel and elevate your boating adventures today.

Jack K. Pride
Jack K. Pride

Jack K. Pride is an accomplished author and a prominent figure in the boating community. With a passion for boats and a deep understanding of the maritime industry, he has been sharing his expertise through his compelling articles on

Known for his insightful and informative writing style, Jack's articles provide valuable insights, tips, and knowledge to boat enthusiasts worldwide. His dedication to the subject matter and commitment to delivering high-quality content makes him a trusted voice in the boating world.

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