If you cannot steer it, you won’t get there, making car steering problems a high priority fix. But, diagnosing isn’t always easy with steering issues manifesting in noises, sensations, and changes from the norm. Let’s take a closer look at the underlying problems behind common car steering issue.

How Car Steering Systems Work

Starting from square one gives you a better understanding of what’s going on under the hood—and behind the wheel.

Your car’s steering system takes the rotation from the wheel and passes that movement through series of sockets and joints. The precise adjustment of these joints allows the wheel to move in unison and at the appropriate angles to make maneuvers. For example, when make a left turn your left wheel turns at a sharper angle than the right, in order to make the turn faster. This is all set up by the movement allowed in the sockets in relation to the angle of the steering wheel.

These joints also work with the suspension to allow directional changes without moving up and down. And vice versa. Making up and down and right and left independent movements.

Diagnosing Steering Problems and Their Causes

Before diving deeply into common steering problems, it’s important to state that this isn’t an exact science or a definite answer. Steering problems should be addressed immediately by a professional as they can have a severe impact on your car’s ability to safely occupy the road. Also, some symptoms have multiple causes, ranging from annoying to severe. Professionals can confirm which is the underlying cause and the appropriate fixes.

Now, let’s take a look at the underlying causes for these steering problems in cars.

Car Pulls on One Side While Driving

As your driving down a straight road, you notice your vehicle tends to drift in one direction. It never stays straight. The various possible causes include:

  • Uneven tire pressure
  • Your car is out of alignment
  • Worn, wrapped or broken springs
  • Uneven torsions bar alignment
  • Dragging brakes

Car’s that pull to one side while braking have similar possible causes: uneven tire pressure, alignment issues, and brakes grabbing.

Steering Requires Muscle

If you find steering requires some serious muscle, it’s an issue in the power steering system. However, it could be a variety of issues within the power steering ranging from low fluid to a leaking system to a bad pump.

The Steering Wheel Bounces While on the Highway or When Braking

If you find your steering wheel bouncing up and down like an excited toddler on the highway, that’s a significant indication (and a noticeable one) of steering problems.

  • Your wheels could be out of balance, or your tires are wearing unevenly.
  • You have loose wheel bolts.
  • The brake rotors are close to worn or broken.

Steering Wheel Vibrations When Accelerating or Driving Steady Speeds

First, make sure you haven’t overloaded your vehicle—you could be making it work too hard. If that’s not the case, a vibrating steering wheel can be linked to:

  • Wheels that are out of balance
  • Wheels prying loose from loose bolts
  • Damaged brakes discs
  • Uneven wear patterns on your tires

Steering Wheel Returns Slowly (or Not At All) to Center

After completing a turn, if you were to let the steering wheel go, it would return to center. While it doesn’t do this with a jolt, it does return promptly. If you find your steering wheel returning slower than average, or that it requires aid from you, it could be because of one of these underlying problems.

  • Friction in the system. Whether that is in the steering gears, joints or suspension system, some component isn’t allowing for unhindered movement.
  • Extreme negative camber (your wheels are leaning into the center of your car)
  • Issues within the power steering system.

Steering problems should never be ignored. Without a properly functioning steering system you cannot safely navigate the roads. Additionally, most car steering problems indicate unaddressed, underlying issues in other area’s of your car—making it a two-for-one deal. While it can be easy to diagnose general issues, fixing them and pinpointing exact causes should be left to the professionals. Ready to start steering straight again? Visit Northwest Auto Center of Houston today.