How the moniker "suicide knob" (aka "Brodie knob") came to be associated with this really useful addition to your steering wheel is explained in this article on Wikipedia. While these things are legal in most States, in New York State, a doctor's prescription for a spinner must be submitted to the NYSDMV.
"Spinner Knobs" are a driver's test "no-no", because keeping your hands on the wheel at 3 and 9 O'Clock is difficult to do with one of these knobs on the wheel. I installed mine at the 8 O'clock position with the wheels pointed straight ahead. Let me tell you something – and this from someone who has been on the road with
almost TWO MILLION MILES driven without a single accident or ticket – whenever you see someone driving "textbook-style" with their hands at 3 and 9
O'Clock, get away from them; they are an collision waiting to happen!
Contrary to what most driver's education courses may tell you, both hands on the wheel – especially in the "driver's test" position – is dangerous. Your ability to quickly steer clear of a sudden road hazard such as a mattress flying off the roof of the Toyota Prius coming at you in the opposing lane, is greatly diminished. If you drive a stick, hands at 3 and 9 is just plain retarded.
Some people don't like the cheap spinners you can get at auto parts distributors because most of them use a rivet to hold the knob on the bracket, and it will start to squeak after a few weeks of use. Some of them rattle when the driver is not actually holding on to it. The solution to the rattling is to stretch a faucet O-ring over the bracket so that it ends up in the "gap" between the bracket and the knob. The O-ring I used to kill the rattle on my (former) spinner knob: UPC Code: 37155 96726 (pack of 10 – made by Danco) 5/8" Outside Diameter (in the plumbing section of Home Depot). Look carefully at the photo on the right, below, and you'll see the O-ring between the chrome bracket and the knob (red arrow). The O-ring recommended above is NOT an easy fit; it has to be stretched over the bracket with a long-nose pliers, but installation of the O-ring solves the rattling problem. After several months of use, this thing started to squeak, which was driving me nuts, and oiling it by drilling a small hole underneath and injecting heavy motor oil with a inkjet ink syringe only made it worse.
Steering Wheel Suicide Spinner Knob Black
(does not fold out of the way)
Folding Steering Wheel Suicide Spinner Knob
(this one folds out of the way. See video
I had seen a Folding "suicide knob" on a "funny car" several years ago, but never knew where to get one, so I settled for the one shown in the photos below. After tedious searching, I found one – and I am very satisfied with the quality compared to the one I got at Auto Zone. The link to where I found it is shown
on this page.
The advantages of the Folding version is that it folds out of the way (inside the circumference of the steering wheel) when you don't need it or don't feel like using it, and the knob has a ball bearing, so it will never start squeaking like the cheap crap you'll get at auto parts stores.
The two photos below show a typical "suicide knob" carried by several popular auto parts distributors such as Auto Zone, and Pep Boys. The quality of these are not nearly as good as the ones linked to above. I recommend the Folding Spinner Knob shown in the photos below these two.