We take for granted that our vehicles will respond fluidly to our steering commands. But there are many components that influence whether this occurs. The steering wheel, steering shaft, rack-and-pinion set, tie rods, and other parts must work properly. If one or more malfunction, our cars' steering response will be diminished.
Most steering problems start mildly, and worsen gradually over time. This causes many people to dismiss them. This article will present an overview of the most common steering problems drivers experience. Along the way, we'll pose a few factors that may contribute to them.
Pulling To One Side
There are a few types of pulls. For example, you might notice your car drifting to one side whenever you don't actively managing the wheel. This is the most common pull. It is usually caused by unbalanced caster or camber, or a brake caliper that has failed to disengage Autel Diaglink. It can also be caused by tire issues. They may have worn unevenly, or one side may be exerting more resistance than the other (your vehicle will pull toward the former) Autel MaxiDiag MD808.
Another common pull occurs when your steering seems drawn to an off-center position. This is slightly different than an aimless drift, as described above. This problem is called "memory steer." It, too, can be caused by a number of factors, including improperly balanced wheels, tie rod ends that have been installed poorly, and binding in the steering linkage.
A third type of pull causes your vehicle to wander from one side to the other. We'll cover this problem in more detail below.
Wandering From Side To Side
In some cases, a car will drift, but do so in random directions. It might drift right, and then left, unless you actively control the wheel. If your vehicle does this, first check the air pressure in your tires. Severe underinflation can cause this problem. If your air pressure is fine, have a mechanic measure - and if necessary, correct - toe alignment.
Other factors that can cause wandering include loose wheel bearings and rack mounts, insufficient action in the steering rack, and unbalanced or deficient caster. It is also possible that weakened springs in your suspension system are contributing to the problem. Each of these issues can be resolved once detected; the challenge is detecting the root cause in the first place.
Jerking Or Vibrating Steering Wheel
When your steering wheel jerks spasmodically (usually, while traveling at low speeds), it suggests one of a few underlying problems. Your steering pump may need to be replaced; the power steering fluid may be low (implying a leak in the system); or a steering drive belt may be loose. A jerking wheel can also be caused by a low-idling engine.
A vibrating steering wheel usually occurs while traveling at highway speeds. Here, the wheels may be unbalanced; the tires may have sustained damage; the steering linkage might have loosened; or the brake rotors may be scarred, and need to be machined (or replaced).
When either of these problems become severe, they are dangerous since they make it extremely difficult to control your vehicle.
Knocks, Squeaks, And Whines While Turning
Your steering column might produce one or more troublesome noises whenever you turn the wheel. For example, you may notice a knocking sound. This can be caused by issues in the suspension, insufficient clearance between the tires and other parts, or something hitting the column. You might also notice whining coming from the column when you turn the wheel. This, too, may suggest one of several problems, including a loosened steering drive belt, malfunctioning pump, or low fluid level. All are relatively easy to address, through troubleshooting the root cause requires time.
Automotive steering problems can clearly result from a number of underlying factors. Even though you will likely need a mechanic to resolve them, it is useful to be familiar with the components that play a role.