The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consumer alert warning vehicle owners of the dangers of decorating their steering wheels.
In particular, it has warned against applying rhinestones to your steering wheel – not because they’re last season, but because they can result in further injuries in a crash.
It cites one case where a driver lost sight in one eye after a rhinestone-emblazoned steering wheel decoration became dislodged from the wheel during a crash and hit them in the face.
These decorations, available on websites like Temu and AliExpress, typically feature shiny decorations affixed to a metal or plastic plate with an adhesive back, covering the vehicle’s logo in the centre of the steering wheel.
“In a crash, the force of a deploying air bag can turn the product into a projectile, resulting in serious injury or death,” NHTSA says in its alert.
“Unlike the permanently affixed logo on your vehicle’s steering wheel, these aftermarket decals can easily become dislodged when the airbag is deployed.
“Any alterations or changes to your airbag or its cover can also cause it to not function correctly.”
The agency warns people to not buy these decorations, and also to remove them from their vehicles if they’ve already purchased them.
While factory-fitted steering wheel badges are designed to not fly off haphazardly into the driver’s face, some companies have had to issue recalls for defective items.
Mazda, for example, recalled over 70,000 examples of its 3 hatch and sedan in Australia in 2021 as the logo could become brittle and fracture, hurling plastic fragments into occupants.