Steering Wheels and You - A Hopefully Helpful Guide

[Mod Edit - note that Voodoo isn’t responding to this thread because he’s moved from T10 to a Microsoft job, per Mechberg in the June 3 Friday stream - MM]

My name is Christian and I’m Gameplay Engineering Lead for Forza Motorsport 6. I also happen to be a fairly practiced Forza player since Forza Motorsport 1 (before I started working for Turn 10) and a wheel player since I got my hands on the Forza Motorsport 2 demo.

I’m writing this to help you understand more about how force feedback steering wheels work and why certain things are the way they are. After reading this, you’ll maybe have answers to questions you’ve had about Xbox One steering wheels and how to make the best out of them.

Our Force Feedback code was re-written for Forza 5 to work with the Xbox One and the new steering wheels. Then we took what we had from FM5 and spent quite a bit of time making improvements for FM6 as well as tweaking the effects for every wheel that is currently supported (more on that later).
We’ve spent time with every force feedback Xbox One wheel (Thrustmaster TX, MadCatz, Logitech G920, and the Fanatec ClubSport) to make sure we provide you with the best experience we can.

Force feedback design is a bit of an art and there are a lot of compromises involved. We generally approach it with an eye towards two main priorities: giving you an authentic experience, and giving you as much information as we can about what your car and tires are doing to help you perfect your driving.

For those who are not interested in the details and just want a good experience with a steering wheel, you can skim this post for the portions in bold for specific practical advice.

Let me start with a very high level (and a bit simplistic) overview of how things work when you player Forza with a steering wheel.

Your wheel (and pedals) have sensors. The sensors detect how much your wheel is turned and how far your pedals are pressed and send electric signals to the wheel’s own CPU running proprietary firmware.
The wheel’s brains then translate the electric signals from the sensors into a digital output that it sends to the Xbox One. For simplicity, let’s assume that the output goes something like “Wheel is turned 50% to the right” or “Gas pedal is pressed 20%”.

This brings up a question: how does the wheel know how much electricity from the sensor corresponds to 50%? (or 10%, or 100%)?

If you have a Force Feedback wheel, you will have noticed that every time you power it up, the steering wheel rotates itself all the way to one end, and then all the way to the other. This is a calibration process that helps the wheel figure out how much electricity to expect from the sensors at each end of the range.
That calibration is how the wheel can accurately assess where the center is, and where 10% to the right or left is.

So because your force feedback wheel has motors than rotate the steering wheel, it can do this calibration on its own every time you start it. But what about the pedals? Those can’t move themselves.
The pedals, usually, still need calibration. So they rely on something else: every time you press the pedal, the wheel re-calibrates its understand of where the edges are. If you press really hard, you force the sensor to send its maximum electric signal, and the wheel’s firmware takes that to mean 100% gas/brake/clutch. It will, from there on out, translate all other signals from the same sensor as something in the middle between zero and that maximum.
There is an interesting conclusion here: if you never press the pedal very hard, the wheel can get confused about where the maximum (100% input) is. If the wheel only ever detects your very soft presses on the pedal, it may think that’s the max signal it can get from the sensor and translate all the other signals as a percentage of that max. The net effect is a very touchy pedal: e.g. when the maximum is 5, a very soft brushing of the pedal that registers a 1 is now 20% input.
This is where the advice to press your brake pedal hard three times after turning on your wheel hardware comes from: it helps the wheel calibrate its understanding of the sensor signals.

It’s worth noting that we haven’t yet talked about the game or the Xbox One. The above process all happens inside your wheel hardware. Neither the Xbox nor any game running on it has much to do with this part. So the above calibration process works at the hardware level and will work with any game, not just Forza.

So you’ve moved the wheel and pedals, the wheel translated your inputs and sent them to the Xbox One/Forza, what’s next?

The game now applies a little bit of logic to the message it received that says you’ve pressed the gas at 10%. This is to allow you to set deadzones and respect them in the game.
So let’s say you’ve set your deadzones on the “acceleration axis” (read: gas pedal) to 5% on the inside and 95% on the outside (my personal setting). This means that Forza will ignore the first 5% of input on the gas pedal (so anything less than 5% gets translated to zero), and everything above 95% will get translated to 100%.
For values in the middle, say the 10% example above, we will simply map it to a new value between 0 and 100%. Let’s change the example and assume you’ve set your deadzones to 25% and 75% on the inside and outside respectively (not recommended). Why is this a bad idea?
Well, you have now effectively halved your resolution. Forza has to translate the 50 values between 25 and 75 and map them to a 0-100% input. So a 26 input now means 2% gas and 27 means 4% gas. Notice the problem? There is no way for you to apply 3% gas in this scenario. You’ve lost resolution (i.e. precision).
If deadzones make you lose precision, why use them at all? Well, no hardware is perfect, and if you set your deadzones to 0 and 100 (i.e. nothing), you may notice some phantom inputs being applied – a little bit of gas when you’re completely off the pedal or never being able to get to 100% gas.

This brings us to the next practical piece of advice: generally speaking, it’s best to set your deadzones on every axis to the minimum (as close to 0 on the inside and as close to 100 on the outside) you can get away with but no less. If you ever notice phantom inputs: increase your inside deadzone. If you press as hard as you’re comfortable with and still can’t get to 100%, increase your outside deadzone.
The telemetry view (down on the d-pad while driving) makes it easy for you to see the exact value of input you’re applying.
The same applies to your steering axis; if you find it hard to keep the car going straight, you may be having some electronic noise from the sensor registering a little bit of left or right input. You may add a bit of inside deadzone to compensate.

So what about degrees of rotation? For Xbox One Force Feedback wheels, the degrees of rotation are applied to the wheel hardware itself. So when you set your wheel to 900 degrees, Forza sends a signal to the hardware to ask it to restrict its range to 900 degrees. This makes sure that you get motor resistance when you reach the end of the rotation range, and the wheel hardware uses that knowledge to translate your input into a percentage.
So at 900 degrees of rotation (450 degrees to the right and 450 degrees to the left), the wheel will respond to a 225 degree right rotation by sending a (225/450=) 50% right signal.

Forza then takes that 50% right signal and translates it into a steering angle. We author every car in Forza with knowledge about how far the wheels can actually turn. Your input is then applied as a percentage of that. So if you’re driving a car whose wheels can turn 35 degrees, your 50% input is now 17.5 degrees (off the straight ahead point).
There are some interesting conclusions here. Different cars can have very different ranges of wheel rotation, generally speaking a street car’s front wheels will have a lot more range of rotation than a race car to allow for low speed maneuvering, parking, etc… (race cars don’t need to parallel park). At higher speeds, you actually don’t need (and shouldn’t) apply a lot of rotation to the front wheels.
So what happens when you drive a race car that has, say, 12 degrees of wheel steering in each direction with a 900 degree wheel? Your rather large 225 degree right rotation now translates to 50%, which is 6 degrees of wheel rotation on this particular car. That’s not a whole lot, and if you want to turn harder/sharper you’ll have to turn your steering wheel more. This would feel sluggish to most people. And it’s why real race cars usually have much quicker steering ratios than that: so that drivers don’t have to go hand over hand to get the car to turn.

The conclusion: find a degrees of rotation that strikes a balance between being slow enough to not feel twitchy and fast enough to let you turn lock to lock without having to take your hands off the wheel. If you’re looking for the the best, no compromise experience, you may want to switch between a higher degree of rotation setting when you’re driving street cars and a lower degree of rotation setting when you’re driving race cars to get the best of both worlds.
We’ve played a lot with these settings and found 540 degree to offer a fair compromise between the two extremes, and that’s why we’ve set that as the default setting in Forza Motorsport 6. In my own play, I generally keep it at then although every now and then I will go a little higher if a certain car feels too twitchy at 540. Forza Motorsport 6 saves your setting and applies it to the wheel every time you connect it (FM5 didn’t save that setting and you had to change it every time).
Note that Forza merely sends your degrees of rotation setting to the wheel to apply, the important conslusion here is that the wheel hardware and firmware can override/ignore that setting. This means that with wheels that allow you to set sensitivity or degrees of rotation on the hardware itself (e.g. Fanatec Clubsport), the wheel setting overrides the Forza setting. That’s why, for example, the Fanatec ClubSport v2 wheel has an “auto” setting: this lets the hardware accept the settings from the game.

We’ve covered a lot about how your inputs work with a steering wheel and Forza. I will prepare another post that talks a bit more about the forces we apply to the wheel (the force feedback portion) and how that works. In the mean time, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about steering wheels and Forza and will try to amend this post with answers to frequently asked questions.


This is an excellent guide. The calibration of the pedals sounds just like bedding in new brake pads on a real car. And interesting to note that simulating wheel lock on different types of cars has an effect on how the input device will feel during gameplay.

Wheel users should probably press Like on this post so they can find it in the lower section of their My Topics. I’ve linked to this post in the Hardware section and Game Settings section of the FAQ as another way to find it in the future.


Very interesting read. Thanks for posting!

This is a breath of fresh air to see some staff here. Especially considering the amount of wheel discussion on this forum. Turn 10 must have heard. Looking forward to following and hopefully being prepared by the 15th.


There is a huge disconnect with power and control here. DiRT Rally, for PC does this particularly well with having constant ever changing dips in terrain that adjust the cars balance and wheel direction and you can feel all of it. I didnt realize until this post that this is what makes drifting and counter steering or even cornering in general just plain dead. its also a wonder why they didnt put a ghosting input register on the menu sliders so you can adjust deadzones in real time like most every other sim, or at least have the control settings available in practice mode so you can test different inputs on the fly, really poor workmanship on this account.

Regarding the FFB, to me the absolute most important aspect of the FFB is the self aligning torque. If this basic parameter doesn’t work properly then there is a huge disconnect with the car and it doesn’t matter what other effects you add on top will not solve it. I seriously suggest you try the live for speed demo on PC, that simulations ffb is purely built around the self aligning torque and the wheel feels very connected and natural without a lot of added effects. Driving is very intuitive and FUN to throw the car around. Forza is not even close to this feeling and it’s a real shame.

I love forza but this is the biggest issue I’ve ever had with the game, on the 360 I put it down to the FFB protocol couldn’t allow you to achieve that sense of feel but now on the xbox one it’s the same if not worse and it is a huge dealbreaker


This man, HE KNOWS!! two finger dip-pointing

A big problem for Turn 10 is will be their suspension geometry modeling. It’s very basic and most of the time pretty mushy and soft, look at the spring offset telemetry and set springs to maximum and completely overdamp it, the offset will still easily be able to reach it’s maximum if you drive very fast over curb.
then there is the caster problem; all cars come with the same 5° caster angle, which is very important for calculating self-aligning torque.

Maybe Turn 10 could just borrow Niels Heusinkveld to help them on FFB, when he’s not too busy designing new racing hardware or helping Reiza.

Thanks! Please pin this guide!

Great info for wheel users and those thinking about getting a wheel. Good to see T10 addressing this as a lot of people have questions and concerns about using a wheel with FM6.

How do I invert my pedals?

Thanks for sharing VoodooUomo…great write-up!


Thanks for taken the time to write this up Great Job will be getting wheel and a Playseat

Christian thanks for the helpful information. Two things seem to feel incorrect on the tx wheel… First the center lack of feedback… when driving straight there is no feeling of roadway in the wheel! There should be a bumpy feeling of the roadway when driving straight or on slight curves. Second when you start to loose control of the vehicle the wheel should have some counter weight that gives you a short time to recover the car! The car kicks out way to fast before you can counter steer. Basically the wheel needs more weight near the center and have more time to allow a recovery from a sideways skid! Thanks


The pedal info is good to know. The dor will always be a preference per user. I just would like an option to raise the force feedback more than what’s available. I know you guys probably set it to what it is now at 100% to avoid clipping, but i just dont have enough feedback to feel connected to the car the way I should. The first 0-30 degrees feels like I’m using a non ffb wheel and I’m using a tx.One more request lol, since you acknowledge that different cars need different dor, do you think it would be possible to add the controls settings back in the race menu like they were in the demo so we can change it without having to go to the main menu. I think you guys have done a great job with the game, and I know you want us to have a great experience with the wheel but I think it’s time you guys took the training wheels off and let us adjust some more settings.


Thank you Christian! This information is extremely helpful for me as I’m planning on buying the the Logitech G920.

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the Turn 10 team and the way you all communicate with the Forza community on this forum. You guys rock and keep up the good work.

Thank you! Will have to drag out the TX in a little bit and try it out again. Haven’t played with it sense the demo, in which I was a fan and had positive remarks. Using a wheel is challenging, and that’s the best part.

Thanks for taking the time to post this! Very helpful.

Im having good results with 47 ffb @ 900 degrees :smiling_face:

Awesome post. Thank you for expanding my understanding of how this works. I’m walking away with some good knowledge. :slight_smile:

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Thanks Christian, great info and very interesting. Just one question if I may. I’ve read somewhere that when the wheel calibrates, it’s good to softly hold the wheel back when it centres which apparently will improve the FFB. This was for the Thrustmaster Italia TX. Is that any good on FM6 as on another game it seems like it more corrupted something as I had to spend hours on the FFB and Tire Force settings. Hope my question makes sense. Thanks.

Great post Christian, there’s certainly a lot more work that you have to do than I had imagined. I had assumed there was basically industry standards for this stuff, a bit like resolutions in mice. I had assumed that USB devices could tell the system (in this case the Xbox) what device is connected and what limitations that device has (steering angle, throttle/bake degree etc)

I have a Thurstmaster 458 Spider and have found I often see wheels lock (protesting with squeal and smoke) when turning any harder than say 40 degrees and wondering if you can suggest anything I can do to fix this. I find I enter corners at speeds that should definitely be acceptable before the tyre gives up, which takes away from the realism a little.

After racing a crazy amount of laps on Bathurst, I was wondering about V8 Supercars and braking. In real life, the drivers pump the brake ahead of a major corner to make sure brake pressure is up and when the call for the anchors, they are ready to work hard. Can you say if this is built into the physics engine of the game ?