Causes Of Hard To Turn Steering Wheel + Solution To Stiff Steering Wheel
Having a car is definitely a necessity and not a luxury hence everyone tries to have one.
Furthermore, necessity demands that you use your personal car and not the public transportation system like electric trains, buses, taxies or cabs.
But then again motor vehicles have their own peculiar problems that sometimes make you wish you didn’t have one.
For instance, imagine traveling at the speed of 80 kilometers an hour and as you apply the brakes it fails and the car steering becomes hard to turn. Of course, you would panic and wish you had gone by public transport.
So, in this article, we will explore the causes of hard to turn the steering wheel and give you a solution for a stiff steering wheel.
Additionally, we will discuss other areas like how to fix a hard to turn the steering wheel when braking, what to do when a car is overheating and the steering wheel is hard to turn and what to do when the steering wheel is hard to turn at low speeds.
The problems are interrelated so, let us tackle them right away.
Read this also: Can I Mix Power Steering Fluid with Transmission Fluid?
5 Causes Of Hard To Turn Steering Wheel + Solution To Stiff Steering Wheel
Here are the causes of hard to turn Steering Wheel
As you already know, the steering is the ultimate means for steering or controlling the direction the car moves to. It is dangerous if you are unable to steer the car with ease and could cause an accident in crowded streets and places filled with cars. It is unimaginable that you could also get caught while trying to move from one lane to another on the Highway. We know that poor maintenance of the car plus other worn parts of the car could cause this problem.
Also, a car steering does not just become stiff all of a sudden. Most times they give signs before they become occur.
The following are top reasons for a hard steering problem. They are a bad steering rack, tire pressure, a malfunctioning pump, leakage of fluid, damaged serpentine belt, and thick fluid.
Let us analyze these point to explain how they represent what you must fix to have fully functional steering and a smooth drive.
#1. Tire Pressure
This may surprise you but one of the causes of hard to turn steering wheel is uneven tire pressure. The four tires plus the spare tire should be inflated up to the manufacturer’s Pound per Square Inch (PSI) rating. Make sure you obey this simple rule.
Also, do proper alignment of the front tires. So that one side of the tire does not wear out more than the other side and cause the car to tilt to one side. If this happens, this will cause improper alignment of the wheels and make the steering to go stiff especially when you are turning at sharp corners.
#2. Bad Steering Rack
Continuous use of the car often could cause, the connecting joints of the cars to the steering rack to wear out. Be observant to notice this simple test. When you start the car in the morning and the wheels are stiff then you should know that the steering rack is malfunctioning. Furthermore, if you notice that the wheels become a bit free as you drive along, it is due to free-flowing lubricant and the hotness of the engine.
Don’t continue to drive the car like this and cause more damage to the steering rack. Fix it.
#3. Broken Serpentine Belt
This belt is in the list of the causes of hard to turn steering wheel especially when it is broken or cracked. This belt gets worn out due to constant use so, you ought to be ready to change it after a certain number of months. If you fail to replace it, the deterioration will continue and after a while, it will break and keep you on the road too.
#4. Fluid Leakage
As a human being when you are thirsty, you drink water and when it is hot, you definitely will continue to take more water. So it is for a car too. When the power steering fluid is leaking or low due to a broken or cracked hose, this causes the pressure to reduce and soon cause the pump to become dry. So, if the steering does not have enough fluid to work smoothly, it will become stiff and hard to turn.
#5. Pump Malfunction
The malfunction of the pump is definitely one of the causes of hard to turn the steering wheel.
For the steering to function properly the pump must be in good condition apart from the fluid and the serpentine belt being in top shape. For instance, if the power steering pump gets damaged, you may continue to use the car but you will have to exert more effort to turn the car steering wheel than before. This is a risk you must prevent because soon, it will become so hard to turn the car at sharp corners of the road.
#6. Thick Fluid
Often you are unaware that particles of things can get into the fluid that runs the steering wheel. This build-up makes fluid thick and causes the steering to work slowly. This is another one of the causes of hard to turn the steering wheel. This build-up of dirt especially causes the steering wheel to be hard when the car is moving at low speed. The solution is to flush the former fluid in the car and replace it with a new one.
What to do when car overheating and steering wheel hard to turn?
Here is what you should when a car is overheating and the steering wheel is hard to turn. We have discussed what causes the steering to be hard so, we will not repeat that here. Instead, we will focus on the cause of the overheating and give a solution.
First, turn off the car air conditioner to reduce the load on the engine. Then turn on the heater to cool the engine down and roll down the windows. Next, allow the car to creep rather than applying your break to avoid tension on the engine. Steer the as gently as you can off the main traffic and pull over to the side of the road.
Additionally, don’t open the bonnet or hood. Allow the steam to boil over and cool down before you open the bonnet. Also, don’t open the radiator cap for your own safety. Call for help or tow van instead. Don’t attempt to add radiator coolant when the car engine is still very hot. Be patient.
What caused the car to overheat?
There are many factors. Some include the drive belt which turns the steering pump and water pump too. If this belt fails due to being worn out or cracks the car will overheat. This belt could also fail due to other accessory failure leading to excessive load on it. So, don’t drive the car until you correct the problem. instead, call for help.
What to do when steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds
You will discover this problem when you are driving at low speed. The cause is usually a faulty power steering system made up of the fluid, serpentine belt and the pump. Those parts work in unity to give your steering a smooth and easy movement. If any of these parts develop a fault, your steering will be hard to turn and become stiff.
Power steering pump causing overheating
Here is what to do when steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds to fix the problem
1. Make sure air pressure of your car tires are even
If the wheels or your steering is hard to turn at low speed, inspect your tires to confirm that the air pressure is even according to the Pound per Square Inch (PSI) recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
2. Confirm power steering state and quantity of fluid
Another thing you should do when the steering wheel is hard to turn at low speed is to check the condition of the power steering and the level of fluid in the reservoir. Check the reservoir and top it up to the recommended level. Confirm the color too and change it when it becomes too dark or you perceive it is too old.
3. Confirm the pulley on the power steering unit is in good order
When the steering wheel is hard to turn at low speeds to fix the problem, you should confirm the state of the pulley in the power steering unit. Check the pulley when the engine of your car is off. Depress the belt with your thumb to gauge the tension. The accurate tension should be an inch of play or 3 quarters and confirm that the belt on the pulley is in the best state with no frayed edges or cracks.
Also, put the car engine on and observe the way the belt works on the pulley. If it is slipping that means the engine will be irregular and your steering too will work in an irregular way.
4. Confirm the state of the power steering unit
Examine the power steering unit to detect whether there is any leakage from the hoses connecting to it. If there is a leakage the pressure will reduce and cause the steering to be hard.
5. Do an Inspection of the front end parts of the car
Another thing to do when the steering wheel is hard to turn at low speeds is to do an inspection of the front end parts of the car. Confirm that parts like the ball joints and tie rods are not worn out. Also, check the alignment of the front tires. If they are not in alignment your car will pull to one side when you drive and the steering wheel will become hard to turn too.
Finally, you must do proper car service regularly with good parts. This will enable you to detect these problems early and fix them before they deteriorate. Do a proper diagnosis of the steering system and components parts each time you go for care maintenance.
How to fix a hard to turn steering wheel when braking
Make sure the power steering fluid is not low. Also, confirm that there is no leakage in the hose that carries the fluid to the steering rack. Additionally, check that there is no malfunctioning power steering pump. These two things could cause the steering wheel to be hard at low speeds when braking.
The solution is to flush the former power steering fluid and replace it with a brand new one.
Also, check the brake fluid to see whether the reservoir is filled to the right level and confirm that the front brake pads are not worn out. If they are, replace them and refill the container with brake fluid.
In this post, we examined the causes of hard to turn the steering wheel and gave solution to these stiff steering wheel problems. We also analyzed what to do when a car is overheating and the steering wheel is hard to turn, plus what to do when the steering wheel is hard to turn at low speeds and how to fix a hard to turn the steering wheel when braking. We hope you know that the solution to all these problems lies in the causes as well. Once you identify the cause you can create a solution. Bottom line is that you should make sure you service the car regularly and do a proper diagnosis of the steering and brake system, to detect problems on time to enable you to repair the car before these problems deteriorate.