Car Maintenance 101: Diagnosing Your Car’s Steering Problems (Part II)

Note to Reader 2: Obviously, it pays to keep your steering components in mint condition. Because of the location of your steering mechanisms, it’s a bit tougher to inspect these parts every week. But that’s no reason for you to simply forget about this component altogether. The moment you “feel” that there’s something wrong with your transmission/steering mechanisms while you’re driving, it’s always best to address these problems head-on rather than wait for your ride to break down completely. The following are other symptoms and possible causes behind your steering problems.

If your steering wheel starts vibrating when you accelerate, or when your steering wheel vibrates even while you’re going straight at a steady speed…

There are many reasons why your steering wheel “fights” your grip. Sometimes as you drive through your freeway, you may run into bumps and potholes that will cause your wheel to turn sharply immediately. This is why it pays to keep your eyes forward and to keep a steady hand on your wheel. But if you’re moving on smooth pavement with no road humps or bumps in sight, and your steering wheel continues to fight your grip, then you may have:

Possible Cause: wheels that are already out of balance.

Possible Solution: Take your car to the local garage to have your wheels re-balanced and realigned.

Possible Cause: Your wheels may be prying loose due to loose bolts.

Possible Solution: If you’re on the freeway, head to the emergency bay to inspect your lugs. Look at your wheel lugs to determine if they need tightening.

Possible Cause: You may have damaged brake discs.

Possible Solution: This coming weekend, take the time to inspect your braking system and to replace your rotors if necessary.

Possible Cause: Worn treading on your wheels or your tires are starting to wear unevenly.

Possible Solution: Check your tires if you need to replace them if the treading is all but gone. Also keep in mind that uneven wear and tear on your tires is a symptom of a bigger problem. Check your wheel alignment and balance to determine if it’s time to take your car to the shop.

If you hear a clunking noise each time you go through the road bump…

It’s actually not just clunking noise but also knocking on your steering wheel. The moment you hear these sounds, it’s time for you to check your steering mechanism for trouble. Your car may have…

Possible Cause: Damaged strut bearings.

Possible Solution: Check your strut bearings for signs of wear and tear. If the damage is extensive, consider replacing both your strut bearings as soon as possible. Remember, like most of the other “paired” components in your car, when one auto unit breaks down, the other is not far behind.

Possible Cause: A broken strut assembly or worn shock absorbers.

Possible Solution: Inspect your suspension for signs of trouble. If you experience frequent swaying, bottoming out, and bouncing each time you go through road irregularities, then it’s time for you to repair or replace these components.

Possible Cause: Broken ball joints.

Possible Solution: Do check out your ball joints for signs of wear. If the damage is severe, replace this component immediately!

If you hear a loud screeching sound each time you stir when you’re parking or driving slowly…

Screeching is never a good sign. If this happens when you’re braking, then you’ll know that friction is doing a fine job in ruining your braking system. But if this happens when you’re steering then this may mean that you have…

Possible Cause: A worn steering belt (power steering belt).

Possible Solution: Inspect your power steering belt. If it’s too damaged to operate, then I highly suggest replacing this component and adjusting the replacement accordingly.

Possible Cause: Your steering belt is too loose.

Possible Solution: Slack on your power steering belt is never a good sign. The good news is that if your steering belt is not broken or damaged extensively, then you don’t need to fork over more cash to buy a new one. All you have to do is tighten this belt.

Possible Cause: Your car is running too low on power steering fluid.

Possible Solution: Simply add more power steering fluid to your ride. Although if I were you, now’s a good chance as any to inspect for leaks. If you’ve recently added power steering fluid to your ride and the fluid levels are still too low after your next check, then you might have leakage. Address this problem as soon as you can.

If you have difficulties steering your ride correctly or if you feel that your steering is becoming “sloppy”…

Sloppy steering isn’t always the driver’s fault—unless we’re talking DUI at which point you shouldn’t even be driving in the first place. When it’s your steering mechanism that’s at fault, then this indicates that you may have…

Possible Cause: Too-low power steering fluid levels.

Possible Solution: Just like I said in the previous scenario, all you have to do is add more power steering fluid to your ride. If, however, we’re talking constant drain in your power steering fluid levels, you’ll need to check for leaks as well.

Possible Cause: You need to replace your steering rack mounts.

Possible Solution: If you have a damaged steering rack mount, then either have it fixed or replaced by a professional as soon as you can.

Possible Cause: Damaged strut bearings.

Possible Solution: Again, simply check for damage. If the damage is too severe, replace both of your strut bearings since the other one’s bound to break soon anyways.

Possible Cause: Damaged steering components.

Possible Solution: Inspect your steering rack and tie rods for damage. If any of these components are in need of replacing, then make sure you find a great replacement part in your local auto parts shop or online. Check your owner’s manual for part requirements and brand recommendations.

Note to Reader 3: Keep in mind that these are just some of the basic steering problems that you may experience when there is damage on your steering, suspension, or transmission systems. Most of the time, these symptoms appear in groups or pairs—and you’ll have to address more than just a single steering problem to restore your vehicle’s performance.

Note to Reader 4: As a special request from Kevin, here’s a picture of the steering rack mount. It’s amazing how such a small component plays a big part in keeping your car performing at its best, right?


One Response to Car Maintenance 101: Diagnosing Your Car’s Steering Problems (Part II)

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