Is Car Steering Conversion RHD To LHD Worth It?

In some countries, right-hand and left-hand drive cars are allowed across the continent with no statistical evidence; hence, our country of discussion is Nigeria. In 1972, Nigeria banned the use of right-hand drive cars following the change from right-hand drive (RHD) to left-hand drive (LHD) on the nation’s roads. The law still stands today, and law enforcement agencies will prosecute anyone who does not adhere to it.

This declaration was a yardstick to restrict the importation or use of right-hand drive cars in the country. Every highway in Nigeria is 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 built 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 also → Importing Right-hand Drive Cars To Places With Left-hand Drive System.

Trend Of Steering System Conversion

Nigeria is a large market where different cars are imported day in and day out. Before, the high demand for vehicles led to steering system conversion because of the cheapness of right-hand drive acquisition and the belief that conversion from RHD to LHD is cheap, easy, and reliable. This steering system conversion trend 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 severe issue in our everyday motoring.

“Most early motor cars had the driver’s seat in the middle. Later, some manufacturers chose to have the driver’s seat nearest the road’s center to look out for oncoming traffic. In contrast, 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.

Purpose Of Steering System

The steering system lets the driver control the vehicle’s direction by turning the front wheels. Most counties’ steering wheel positioning differs, giving us two issues: 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, please familiarize yourself with its city.

Conversion Process From RHD To LHD For Cars

The question goes, is it even 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 critical internal features like the braking system, steering wheel, car engine, and transmission are to be modified. Additionally, 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 an RHD steering system to an LHD steering system poses a greater risk to car users without them knowing. It is indeed fun to see your RHD car converted, but have you taken the time to digest the risks?

The following steering conversion processes involved are:

  1. First, the RHD dashboard is replaced with an LHD dashboard.
  2. The Steering Rack assembly will have to be replaced with an LHD one
  3. The wiring harness behind the dashboard could be saved and 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 transferred.
  6. Door panels and door-mounted Electric Controls (depending on the car) will be replaced with LHD door panels and controls (vehicles with electric power in the center console may not have this problem)
  7. The wiper motor and mechanism will be repositioned or replaced.
  8. Engine and transmission will be removed to access the firewall and accessories.

Dangers Convert A Right-hand Car To A Left-hand Car Poses

With this case scenario, let us highlight the risks of 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 assured him a good conversion in two days. After two days, he retrieved his newly converted car. He paid for the service and took his car home with all gladness. However, the following day, while driving, he noticed a funny smell. The dashboard lights would not go out, and the car doors locked and unlocked sequentially. 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 (onboard diagnostic) diagnostic port but did not communicate 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, the primary central distribution source for the fuse box and relay plate, was wholly melted and burnt out. In addition, 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 poorly welded in place.

Also, see → five 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. Therefore, a remodified car component that 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 is performed satisfactorily for several days after modification. Car manufacturers invest a lot of time and money in producing parts through design, material selection, manufacturing controls, and endurance testing, using manufacturing techniques that are not readily adaptable to low-volume modification procedures. The question is, 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 aluminum pipes that had been bent to adapt to the LHD. These bends were fractured and leaked the refrigerant gas into the car. To make the vehicle safe and drivable again, acquiring these parts plus labor left a whopping massive sum of money; only if the car owner had bought an LHD at first would these not have occurred. Consider your safety before importing a cheap RHD car for conversion to LHD later; getting a left-hand drive auto is simple.

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. A manual radio antenna is often 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 A Right-Hand Drive Car To Nigeria

  1. Left-hand turns: If cars turn left from the opposite direction, it won’t be easy to see around them to ensure the road is clear before turning.
  2. T-junctions: Your visibility across the junction is not good because cross-traffic comes from a sharper angle. It can help 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 terrifying and dangerous, as one will have difficulty overtaking.
  4. Shifting gears with the wrong hand: You must learn 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 in 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 laws 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 key 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 challenging to find, especially locally. Car parts are directly from the manufacturer in the country where the vehicle was manufactured, which will cost you more.
  10. Resale value: In a country like Nigeria with a standard left-hand drive, selling your right-hand drive car might not be easy, or you might not get the price you are asking for. Therefore, you might need to settle for a lower price as the demand is low.


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. German cars are LHD, no need for conversion. Indeed, how much do you expect to save from buying an RHD as opposed to an LHD?


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