You probably take your steering for granted. In fact, the majority of people take their vehicle for granted, you jump in every morning, start it, and go where you need to.
Fortunately, 57% of people have their car serviced every 6 months and another 35% have it done every year. That mean’s 92% of people are interested in looking after their vehicle.
It does, after all, make economic sense. If you look after your vehicle it will last a lot longer. But, you also need to be aware of common issues and the symptoms of those issues. The steering is a particularly important part of your vehicle if it should fail at high speed you’re likely to have a serious accident.
If you look at it other way, you wouldn’t tolerate an issue in your home such as rats. You’d be straight to the store to get some poison and contact a good pest control service.
The good news is there is usually plenty of warning that you’ve got something wrong with your steering. By knowing what the 5 most common warning signs are you’ll be able to get your vehicle to a reputable garage and get the issue sorted before it becomes a more serious problem.
If you need a good garage to help you out then click here, fast, professional, and honest service comes as standard.
1. Heavy Steering
In the ‘good old days’ cars didn’t come with power steering, the engine may have given some assistance but the steering felt a lot heavier, and more work.
Power steering uses a pump and fluid to take most of the effort out of turning your steering wheel. The result is it’s almost effortless.
However, if your steering wheel starts to get heavy and you’re noticing you have to put a lot more effort into it, especially when parking, you have an issue with your system.
The most common fault is low power steering fluid, you can check this and top it up. But, you must check it again a few days later, if it has gone down again you have a leak in the system which needs to be found and properly repaired.
Heavy steering can also mean that the power steering motor is failing or that the belt which drives the pump is slipping. It’s best to get it checked by a professional.
Another clear give away that there is something wrong with your steering system is when the steering wheel vibrates as you drive. You’ll feel it twitching under your hands and the vibrations may even travel up your arms.
If this happens as you pass a certain speed you’ll find the most likely issue is a problem with the wheel alignment, a quick trip to your local tire center will help to sort the issue.
However, vibrations can also be a sign that you have a problem with the power steering system. Contaminants in the power steering fluid disrupt the smooth flow of the liquid and cause pulses in the system, these translate as vibrations in the steering wheel.
The good news is that flushing the system and replacing the fluid should fix the issue.
3. Car Wanders
One thing you should always do when test driving a potential car is let go of the steering wheel on a straight road. The car should continue in a straight line. (It should also brake in a straight line).
If it doesn’t you may have an issue with alignment or even balancing on your wheels. But, you can also have a problem with worn steering gear. The steering gear is lubricated by the power steering fluid, if this runs low or has too many contaminants then the fluid won’t be able to lubricate the parts properly.
The result will be wearing in the joints throughout the steering system. This will prevent the car from traveling in a straight line. Once you realize that it doesn’t go straight you’ll probably notice that it’s constantly fighting you while you drive.
You need to get professional help fast as elements of your steering system will probably need to be replaced.
4. Noise when turning
Unexpected or unusual noise is never a good thing when you’re dealing with something mechanical.
The two most common noises are grinding and screeching. If your steering grinds as you turn the wheel then you have an issue with damaged components. Again, this is likely to be caused by low power steering fluid which has allowed parts inside this system to rub against each other and become damaged.
You’re likely to need parts replacing, a professional will help to analyze the system with you properly.
If the steering screeches then it’s likely that the belt which drives the power steering pump, is loose or failing. This should be checked straight away as belt failures under the bonnet can cause serious damage.
5. Loose Steering Wheel
Finally, you know what your steering wheel feels like every day and you will be aware if the wheel feels looser than normal.
The good news is that this is generally caused by wear and tear, the steering rack and/or tie rods are aging and will need to be replaced. It’s best to get this done sooner rather than later.
Annual servicing can help you to avoid issues with your steering system or at least alert you to the issue before you have a serious problem while driving. That’s why it’s so important to have your car serviced regularly and pay attention to anything that feels or looks different.
Of course, you can’t just rely on a service every 6 or 12 months, you need to be aware of these 5 warning signs of steering problems. If you become aware of any issues you need to check the fluid levels, top them up and monitor if necessary, and contact your local garage.
Being alert really can save your life and the lives of anyone in the car with you.