Created By: alexkalt on February 20, 2012

Improperly Weighted Steering Wheel

The steering wheel goes crazy once someone lets go.

Name Space:
Page Type:
Our friendly character is driving a car down the road perfectly normal, when he lets go of the steering wheel to pick up something, check his phone, etc. But as soon as he lets go, his steering wheel goes crazy and the car starts swerving randomly across the road. Hopefully, he gets out ok, but sometimes, he's not as lucky…

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • February 21, 2012
  • February 21, 2012
    Needs Examples; although I've Seen It A Million Times, I can't remember the details. You might want to explain how this is different from reality, mention where and how it is typically used (does it tend to be used for comedy, perhaps?) and list any related tropes you can find in the compare/contrast format.
  • February 21, 2012
    Not too crazy about the name. Never liked it when a name is based on the fridge logic from the trope, rather than the actual effect shown on screen.
  • February 21, 2012
    Proposed text for the "how this diverges from Real Life" part of the description:

    In Real Life, if the driver lets go of the steering wheel, a car will keep going in a more-or-less straight line. It will probably drift to one side of the road, but it will only wander all over the place if the steering and/or suspension are so badly worn out that the wheels might be in danger of falling off.

    However, because the steering gets slowly and progressively worse the longer a car goes without maintenance, and because even on a well-maintained car the driver has to constantly adjust the steering wheel to keep the car going in a truly straight line, it's possible for someone to not notice just how sloppy their steering has become. This has been discussed several times (with trademark hyperbole) on Car Talk.
  • February 22, 2012
    Epileptic Steering Wheel?

    I've Seen It A Million Times though citing an example could be difficult.
  • February 23, 2012
    If this were expanded to any type of steering device (e.g. a ship's wheel) it might get more examples, like so:

    • Thunderball. Near the end of the movie Largo's ship is escaping the U.S. Navy at high speed. While Bond and Largo are fighting in the bridge, the ship's wheel often has no one controlling it. In one shot it's spinning around for no apparent reason.

    Live Action TV
    • The opening credits of Gilligans Island. While the S.S. Minnow is caught in the storm its ship's wheel is spinning like a top.

    Here's the Thunderball example. And here's the Gilligan's Island example .
  • March 5, 2012
    Wild Steering Wheel is shorter and more, uh, graphical.
  • March 5, 2012
    ^That's not a bad title.
  • March 5, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    Yeah. Keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times, you never know when it will try to turn on you.i
  • March 5, 2012
    I also like Wild Steering Wheel.
  • June 11, 2012
    clear! <crackle>
  • June 11, 2012
    Contrast Driving A Desk, where turning the steering wheel makes no difference to the direction of travel.
  • June 13, 2012