The ability to steer your vehicle effortlessly and accurately is not just a matter of convenience but also safety. Yet, steering problems are among the most common issues car owners face today.
This article aims to shed light on the nature of these problems, their common symptoms, potential causes, and how to address them effectively. Whether it's hard steering, excessive steering wheel vibrations, or steering drift, understanding these issues can help ensure your vehicle remains reliable and safe on the road.
Low Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is what allows you to turn the wheel with ease. It uses hydraulic pressure to assist your steering wheel's movement. Over time, the power steering fluid can degrade due to age and high temperatures, resulting in low power steering fluid levels. When this happens, you'll experience harder steering and notice a noise coming from the steering column when you turn.
The fix is easy. Simply check your owner's manual for what type of power steering fluid your car takes and add more as needed. If that doesn't do the trick, you may have more serious issues, such as a cracked power steering hose or a failing pump.
Worn-Out Steering Rack
The steering rack transforms the rotational movement of your steering wheel into the lateral movement of your wheels. It consists of things like tie rods, bellows, and joints.
Tie rods are particularly prone to wear and tear since they are connected directly to the steering wheel. Their job is to help transfer the turning motion from your steering wheel to the wheels. When they become worn out, you'll notice a swaying movement when going around turns as well as excessive steering wheel vibrations.
Bellows can also become worn out, leading to a clunking noise when cornering. Their job is to absorb the shock from turning so it's not transferred directly to your steering wheel.
Other symptoms of a worn steering rack are loose or stiff steering and a feeling of resistance when you turn the wheel. To fix it, you'll typically need to replace the entire steering rack assembly or just some of its components. It's a complicated process, but a professional mechanic can help you handle it.
Steering Pump Failure
The steering pump is what helps power the steering system. It provides the pressure needed to move the steering rack and turn the wheels. The pump resembles a metal cylinder with hoses running in and out and is typically located in the engine bay.
When a steering pump fails, you'll experience difficulty turning the wheel and a squealing noise from beneath the hood when starting the car. In extreme cases, the wheel may become locked in place, and you won't be able to steer at all. The best fix is to replace the entire steering pump to get your car back on the road.
No matter what type of steering issue you're dealing with, always have it inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic. That way, you can rest assured that your car is safe and reliable while you're on the road. For more information, contact an auto mechanic near you.