The steering system is one of the most crucial components of the vehicle. When the steering system fails, the overall safety and performance of your vehicle is compromised.
Here are some of the common causes of a malfunctioning steering system.
Incorrect Tire Pressure
Check the air pressure in your tires. All tires should have equal air and filled according to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Improper amount of air in tires, especially if they are too low, can cause stiff steering.
Improper Wheel Alignment
Check to be sure that you have proper front end alignment. A tell-tale sign would be uneven front tire wear and pulling to one side while driving. If the wheels are not aligned properly, you can also encounter hard and stiff steering, especially while making turns.
Low Power Steering Fluid
A low level of power steering fluid is the number one cause of a steering wheel being hard to turn. While refilling the power steering reservoir with fluid will temporarily fix the problem, the root cause of the disappearing power steering fluid will need to be found. There is a good chance that a pressurized hose could be loose or cracked. The main purpose of the power steering fluid is to lubricate the power steering pump and to transmit pressure seamlessly throughout the system.
Damaged or Loose Power Steering Belt/ Damaged Pulley
Another challenge with your steering system could be that the serpentine belt has becomes loose or has broken, which will cause the power steering system will instantly become inactive. Over time, the material of the belt gradually begins to wear down. Even high-quality belts will eventually need to be replaced. If the belt is continually loose, there may be a more culprit, that being a worn pulley.
Power Steering Pump Failure
Although power steering pumps are designed to last for thousands of miles, it may still prematurely fail. Often times a steering pump becomes noisy when it is on its last leg. The key is to have the power steering system checked out immediately at the initial sign of a problem.
Faulty Steering Rack
The steering rack is the key part of the steering make-up and is part of the rack and pinion. Working with the power steering system, steering racks become damaged over time simply because of usage. If your steering wheel is hard to turn only when you first start the car but progressively gets better, then the steering rack is probably damaged. As the car warms up, the rack becomes hot and better lubricated and the problem tends to go away. However, you should still have the rack replaced.
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Without a fully functioning steering system, it is very difficult to control your vehicle. This can put not only yourself but everyone else on the road in danger. The best way to avoid these problems is to prevent them. Timely maintenance is key to safety, keep your fluid levels up to the mark at all times and make sure the power steering system is checked every time you send your car in for scheduled services.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com