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Custom steering wheels are used to personalize a variety of vehicles, from cars and trucks to boats. Typically crafted with fine leather and carbon-fiber or chrome, custom steering wheels can be a smaller or larger diameter than the original wheel, contain electrical accessory switches or replicate a certain vintage style of steering wheel. Often manufactured of materials that tend to be more suited for a show vehicle than a daily-driven vehicle, custom steering wheels are common among vehicle customizers, including a very small-diameter, chromed chain version or a half-wheel design resembling an airplane's controls. Some boat owners choose to equip their boat with a replica of an old wooden ship's wheel, complete with exposed turnings.
Many custom steering wheels created for show-quality vehicles are covered in custom leather dyed to match the vehicles interior or exterior color. Other versions of the personalized wheel use billet aluminum to carve out a one-of-a-kind steering wheel commonly created to highlight the vehicle's name or inspiration, such as the spider web or honey comb. Some competition-geared custom steering wheels mount electronic controls to the steering wheels to make the activation of certain functions easier to reach, such as buttons to engage nitrous oxide for a boost of speed or trigger a parachute to release to slow down a drag racing vehicle.
The use of custom steering wheels has even extended to the big rigs. Semi trucks are often using a custom steering wheel to individualize the owner's truck. It is common for the semi truck owner to install a larger-diameter steering wheel in order to better portray a vintage truck. The older trucks did not have power steering, so the trucks were equipped with very large-diameter steering wheels to aid the trucker in turning the heavy truck through the use of leverage. As a common customizing trait, semi trucks are being modeled after the vintage trucks, and the addition of custom steering wheels can often bring the final realistic touch to the truck.
Exotic touches, such as light-emitting diodes (LED), are sometimes installed around the diameter of custom steering wheels to add another level of customization to a vehicle. Other defining custom touches might be as subtle as the owner's name or initials or even the year of the vehicle machined into the horn button area of the steering wheel. Some of the earliest versions of custom steering wheels were nothing more than a plain steering wheel with a customized center button.