The steering wheel in your car is under direct manipulation by you. Turn it in either direction and your car responds, with the aid of other steering components in the vehicle. When turning becomes difficult or the car makes a mysterious noise when turning, you may have questions about what’s causing the trouble. Check out our list of seven common reasons your steering wheel may not be working at its best and when it’s time to steer your car toward Sun Auto Service for an inspection.
- Shaking Steering Wheel – Your car should move smoothly down the road. When your steering wheel begins shaking, the cause can often be determined based on whether you’re moving or braking. When traveling over 20 – 30 MPH, and your steering wheel shakes, it’s time to have your tires looked at as they may be unbalanced or worn. If the vibrations are felt while braking, this is a clear indicator that your brake rotors are warped, making it harder for brake pads to clamp down. Braking creates an incredible amount of heat from the friction created to bring your vehicle to a stop. Constant heating and cooling break down rotors causing warping, which prevents them from dissipating heat properly.
- Excessive Play or Movement in Steering Wheel – On vehicles with rack and pinion steering systems, worn tire rods may be responsible for a lack of response to the wheels, when the steering wheel is turned. Tie rods are the driver’s connection from the steering wheel to the tires. When tie rods wear out, along with a loose steering wheel, you may notice a squeaking sound when turning.
- Steering Pulls in One Direction or the Other – When you find yourself fighting the steering wheel to keep your vehicle driving in a straight line, a few things may be responsible for this problem. The most common reason is that the vehicle is out of alignment. A vehicle that is properly aligned ensures that all tires remain in line for proper contact with the road. Vehicles commonly fall out of alignment from going over pot holes or hitting curbs. A vehicle that is out of alignment causes abnormal and accelerated tire wear and you may notice tires are more worn on one side than the other as a result. Additionally, defective tires can cause pulling to the left or right. Worn or defective tires are easily recognized as visible metal strips may be emerging from the tire. Since many vehicles require the same tire size, diameter, as well as tread type, it is recommended to replace all tires at once for better handling on the road.
- Hard to Turn Steering Wheel – Power steering or steering assist, as it’s more accurately described, helps the driver turn the wheel with electric or hydraulic pressure. A steering rack or gear box that has heat build-up or loss of hydraulic pressure can make turning more difficult. Difficulties turning the steering wheel are often accompanied with power steering fluid leaks, grinding sounds, or a burning oil odor.
- Grinding or Clicking Noise when Turning Steering Wheel – Any sound such as a grinding, clicking, or rumbling sound when turning is often caused by a failing constant velocity or CV joint. CV joints allow the front wheels to receive power to move. When the CV joints become worn, they become loose and produce a clicking sound when turning.
- Steering Wheel Stiff When Turning – Because power steering systems are hydraulic systems and need fluid to produce pressure for turning, when power steering fluid is low, it is unable to produce enough pressure to assist with turns. If power steering fluid levels are normal, it’s possible the power steering belt is loose or damaged, the pump has failed, or the steering rack is faulty.
- Wandering Wheel – When the steering wheel is straight, but your vehicle begins drifting or wandering off the road, it’s best to check the alignment, first. If you find yourself continuing to fight the steering wheel and the vehicle is properly aligned, the rack may be faulty. The steering rack is composed of a rack enclosed with a steering pinion, connected to the steering wheel by shafts and U-joints. When the steering wheel is turned, the pinion moves pushing the steering rack in the direction desired. The ends of the steering rack are linked to the front wheels making the steering rack respond by turning to the left or right as well. A faulty steering gear box may also cause a drifting car. The gear box is made up of a sector and worm gear. When bearings and bushings wear out, they produce a loose feeling. Additionally, the vehicle may have loose steering or suspension components.
Power steering system steering racks utilize an engine-driven pump to deliver high-pressure hydraulic fluid to the steering rack as the wheel is turned. This makes turning the steering rack easier. However, additional components such as hoses, seals, and O-rings are used for delivery of hydraulic fluid. Over time, these components begin to wear out due to usage and exposure to heat.
Turning your vehicle should not require much effort and when it does, or you hear a noise when turning the steering wheel, your steering system will need to be inspected by a qualified technician. When you need to be sure your vehicle is steering you in the right direction, visit Sun Auto Service for a proper inspection. Our technicians will provide an in-depth examination of your steering system to determine the cause of your vehicle’s steering troubles and repair them if necessary. Repairs are guaranteed in writing with a 2-year 24,000-mile nationwide warranty to provide you peace of mind for miles. Turn your wheel toward the nearest Sun Auto Service location to you, today!