Why Car Steering Conversion Right-hand To Left-hand Drive Not Worth It?

Why Car Steering Conversion RHD To LHD Not Worth It?

“Most early motor cars had the driver’s seat in the middle. Later some manufacturers chose to have the driver’s seat nearest the center of the road to look out for oncoming traffic while others choose to put the seat on the other side so that the drivers could avoid damaging their vehicles on walls, hedges, roadside gutters, and other unseen obstacles” Wikipedia column.

Brief History: Right-hand Drive (RHD) To Left-hand Drive (LHD) On Nigeria Roads

In some countries, right-hand drive cars and left-hand drive cars are allowed across the continent with no statistical evidence; hence, our country of discussing is Nigeria. In 1972, Nigeria banned the use of right-hand drive cars in the country following the change from the right-hand drive (RHD) to left-hand drive (LHD) on the nation’s roads, the law still stands until today and law enforcement agencies will prosecute anyone does not adhere to it. This declaration was a yardstick to restrict the importation or use of right-hand drive cars in the country as well. Every highway in Nigerian are constructed with left-hand drive cars in mind, which means visibility when driving an RHD can become a serious safety, why? Because the roadways are constructed to put the driver on the inside of the road that gives the driver the best ability to see oncoming traffic and with a right-hand drive car you will be placed wrong as a driver.
 

Read alsoImporting Right-hand Drive Cars To Places With Left-hand Drive System


Trend Of Steering System Conversion

Nigeria is a large market where different types of cars are imported day in day out. Before the high demand for cars, which has led to steering system conversion is because of right-hand drive acquisition cheapness and the belief that conversion from RHD to LHD is cheap, easy, and reliable. This trend of steering system conversion has infused auto-quacks into the auto-engineering industry, which has caused so many dear life accidents and deaths in transit. This has become a serious issue in our everyday motoring.

Purpose Of Steering System

The purpose of the steering system allows the driver to control the direction of the vehicle by turning the front wheels. Most counties steering wheel positioning differs which gives us two issues here: which side of the road do you wish to drive on, and which side of the car would you sit on? When traveling to any country of choice to convey yourself around its city.

Conversion Process From RHD To LHD For Cars

The question goes, does it even really worth buying RHD cars in Nigeria for conversion? Conversion from a right-hand side to a left-hand side is not so simple, it has high risk and cost implications. Steering conversion is a process that requires expertise, especially since important internal features like the braking system, steering wheel, the car engine, and transmission are to be modified. Add to that, other safety car components like the airbag and the gear selector will be damaged in the process.

Nonetheless, when performed by the car manufacturer, your car can be just as good as new. Converting to an RHD steering system to the LHD steering system poses a greater risk to the car users without them knowing. It is indeed fun to see your RHD car is converted, but have you taken the time to digest the risks involved?

The following steering conversion processes involved are:

  1. The RHD dashboard is replaced with an LHD dashboard
  2. The Steering Rack assembly will have to be replaced with LHD one
  3. The wiring harness behind the dashboard could be saved and simply inverted (turned around). Safety airbags will also be affected
  4. The Brake Master Cylinder will have to be repositioned and re-lined
  5. The Pedal assembly will be removed and repositioned
  6. Door panels and door-mounted Electric Controls (depends on car) will be replaced with LHD door panels and controls (cars with electric control in the center console may not have this problem)
  7. Wiper motor and mechanism will be repositioned or replaced.
  8. Engine and transmission will be removed to allow access to firewall and accessories.

What Dangers Does converting A Right-hand Car To A Left-hand Car Poses?

With this case scenario, let us highlight the dangers associated with converting a vehicle from RHD to LHD.

A client who shipped an RHD Mercedes C230 Kompressor (2004 Coupe model) to Nigeria needed a convert to the LHD system again. An auto mechanic he consulted gave an assurance of a good conversion in two days. After two days, he went to retrieve his newly converted car, with all gladness he paid for the service and took his car home. The following day while driving he noticed a funny smell, dashboard lights will not go out and the car doors locked and unlocked sequentially while driving. After much drag with the previous auto mechanic, he took the car to a Mercedes Benz repair center to save his car. They plugged into the OBD-II (On-board diagnostic) diagnostic port, but no communication with the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and other electronic modules.

3 Possible Errors That Could Be Identified As A Result Of The Conversion:

  1. The entire wiring behind the dashboard which is the main central distribution source for the fuse box and relay plate were completely melted and burnt out since all wiring was riddled with electric tape, and crude joints during the conversion process.
  2. The complete air-conditioning system was destroyed.
  3. Steering column brackets are badly welded in place.

Also, see → 5 ways how steering conversion can seriously affect the safe operation of your vehicle:

  1. Steering Risk - Steering can disengage during motion, lose control, and cause an accident, and that conversion is never 100% successful.
  2. Reduced Component Strength - Loads applied in an emergency, e.g. panic stop or loss of power assistance to steering can be very high. A car component remodified and does not retain the strength of its original design may operate unsatisfactorily under everyday driving loads. However, under high loads, it may fail catastrophically.
  3. Susceptibility to Fatigue Failure - Poor conversion design can lead to fatigue failure of the steering component, which performed satisfactorily for a series of days or time after modification. car manufacturers invest a great deal of time and money in producing components through design, material selection, manufacturing controls and endurance testing using manufacturing techniques not readily adaptable to low volume modification procedures. The question, is your car conversion tested afterward? Think again!
  4. Reduced Primary Safety - Modifications to steering can radically alter a vehicle's handling by introducing undesirable traits such as increased bump steer and poor self-centering.
  5. Alterations to braking components can reduce the system's braking effectiveness.

Consider Your Safety Before Buying Or Converting RHD Car To LHD

The solution was the need to get a complete air conditioner, heater assembly and as well as the aluminum pipes which had been bent to adapt to the LHD. These bends were fractured and leaking the refrigerant gas into the car. To make the car safe and drivable once more, acquiring these parts plus labor left a whopping huge sum of money, only if the car owner had bought an LHD at first these will not have occurred. Consider your safety before importing a cheap RHD car for conversion to LHD later; it is simple to get a left-hand drive car, to begin with.

7 Ways To Recognize Right Hand Steering Converted To Left

  1. Wipers end in front of the drivers
  2. Control panel on the door often on the passenger’s door.
  3. Manual radio antenna often is not accessible to the driver.
  4. The fuel tank is on the reverse side of the original left-hand version,
  5. The exhaust is on the other side of the original left-hand version.
  6. The fuse box is on the other side of the original left-hand version.
  7. The battery compartment is on the other side of the original left.

10 Reasons Why You May Not Buy Or Import Right-Hand Drive Car To Nigeria

  1. Left-hand turns: If cars are turning left from the opposite direction, it will be difficult to see around them to ensure the road is clear before making your turn.
  2. T-junctions: Your visibility across the junction is not good because cross-traffic is coming from a sharper angle. It can be helpful to set the passenger seat slightly behind the driver's, so you are not trying to look through the passenger's head.
  3. Overtaking: Especially on a one-lane road is not only terrifying but also dangerous, as one will have a hard time overtaking.
  4. Shifting gears with the wrong hand: You would need to learn to master how to shift gears with your left hand, this is hard, as the shift pattern is not reversed from the left-hand drive layout. “Every swordsman hangs his sword on the left-hand side”.
  5. Passenger safety: Your front-seat passenger is on the most dangerous spot closest to the incoming traffic and, he would have to exit your car on the traffic side when parked at the curb.
  6. Rules and regulations: As it is not the standard side for your country, you never know when the rules and regulations might change.
  7. Grabbing tickets from an automated parking garage gate can be a challenge. You have to crawl through the car, pull the ticket out, and scramble back before the gate closes on you. Very funny.
  8. Drive-thru: If for any reason, you are going into the fuel filling station or cafeteria, driving through will be difficult to access, especially when you have a lower car.
  9. Parts: Some parts for RHD vehicles may be difficult to find especially locally. Car parts are directly from the manufacturer in the country in which the vehicle was manufactured which will cost you more.
  10. Resale value: in a country like Nigeria that has a standard Left Hand Drive, selling your right-hand drive car might not be that easy, or you might not get the price you are asking. Therefore, you might need to settle for a lower price as the demand is not that high.

Conclusion

No one needs to tell you that driving an RHD in Nigeria is wrong. It is a law. Ideally, you buy the right type of car to avoid unnecessary embarrassment from law enforcement agents. Germany cars are LHD, no need for conversion. Indeed, how much do you expect to save from buying an RHD as opposed to the LHD?



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