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What Is Steering Linearity? A Quick Guide

Updated: December 12,2022

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Racing games and driving simulations benefit significantly from the use of racing wheels, and true fans of the genre have some incredible gaming setups. However, the realism and user experience greatly depend on setting up the game to your preferences and your steering wheel.

So, what is steering linearity, and how can it improve your control and make racing feel more realistic? 

Steering Linearity Definition

Steering linearity is the direct correlation between the gaming wheel input and the amount the wheels of the vehicle turn in the game. The setting is most often represented by a slider and will determine how sharply the wheels turn in the game. 

Keep in mind that the steering linearity is different to control sensitivity. Sensitivity acts like a multiplier on the movement input. For example, if you turn the wheel 15°, and the multiplier is set to one, the wheels in the game should turn the same amount. 

Changing the angle from 15° to 30° results in the exact same change in-game. However, if the multiplier is set to two, and you turn the wheel from 0° to 15°, it should turn the vehicle by 30°, or twice more than the racing wheel actually moved. 

linear correlation graph

As you can see in the graph above, we can see the linear correlation between wheel angle and car angle with direct controller steering linearity. 

The green line represents the baseline of the 1:1 ratio between the input (racing wheel) and output (car angle). The orange line is at two times sensitivity, and the purple one is at one-half sensitivity. 

Changing linearity will produce somewhat different results. For instance, if you increase the nonlinearity value with a sensitivity multiplier on one, changing the angle from 0° to 5° may also result in a 5° move on the car wheel, depending on the game’s physics. 

However, if you turn the racing wheel from 5° to 20°, the car wheel may move just 17​​°. The graph below shows how varying degrees of nonlinear settings may affect the input from your wheel controller. 

nonlinear graph

As you can see in the graph, the green line is the same baseline from the example above. The black and orange lines are inputs with different nonlinearity settings. 

Such settings change how movement sensitivity behaves depending on the position of the racing wheel. The more you move from the starting position, the lower the sensitivity. 

Remember that these curves are just an approximation and will depend on how the game is designed. Furthermore, the feel of in-game steering can also depend on the type of wheel controller you are using

Benefits of Steering Nonlinearity

Actual vehicles don’t have a linear relationship between the steering wheel and car wheels. 

Such practice was discontinued by the end of the 20th century to help with parking, boost maneuverability at low speeds, and increase safety at high speeds. Therefore, if you want to try out how realistic steering systems work for games such as American Truck Simulator, steering nonlinearity is the way to go.

Wheel-linear control is more associated with arcade games and doesn’t simulate the feel of using an actual physical wheel.

By enabling nonlinear steering, you’ll feel much more in control if you are driving on straight roads. If you are using a game controller to play games, you might notice similarities between nonlinearity and having a deadzone on the controller’s stick

With reduced sensitivity for light inputs, you can prevent slight movements of the wheel from making you lose control over your vehicle in-game. 

You can enjoy the immersive steering wheel experience regardless of your gaming platform of choice since the last few generations of consoles have added support for multiple third-party controllers and have several great racing games to practice on.

Final Thoughts

So, what does steering linearity mean for your ultimate driving setup? The wheel controller is a must if you want to benefit from this setting. This is an example where neither a controller nor a keyboard and mouse setup are the ideal tools for the job.

Remember that if you want the ideal driving experience, you’ll likely have to tinker with some settings in-game.


What is linearity on a steering wheel?

Linearity represents a direct correlation between your input on an analog controller and the amount your vehicle turns in-game. With higher linearity, the angle on the controller is more directly proportional to the angle at which your vehicle turns in the game. 

What is the steering deadzone?

The steering deadzone adjusts the non-responsive area from the starting wheel position. The purpose of this setting is to reduce small accidental inputs from disrupting your control in the game.

Is car steering linear?

No, it isn’t. Actual cars use nonlinear steering.

What is steering linearity in The Crew 2?

Like in other games, steering linearity in The Crew 2 represents the relationship between the wheel controller turning and the car’s response in-game. It can vary from a directly linear relation to a more realistic nonlinear one. 

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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.

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