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Why Does Car Steering Wheel Becomes Harder & Stiffer? Explained
A steering wheel is a part that operates the control mechanisms of a car. But sometimes, this steering wheel becomes stiff due to certain circumstances, and you have to apply more force than usual to turn it. A stiff steering wheel is very treacherous while you are driving a vehicle.
There are several causes of hard steering and this article highlights these factors so that you can identify them and take care accordingly.
What Are the Common Causes that Lead to a Hard Steering Wheel?
Hard steering is a result of late servicing, lack of maintenance, or sometimes due to the wearing of specific components. Therefore, gaining knowledge on the causes of tight steering is crucial because it will help you identify the signs and take preventive actions accordingly.
Here are the reasons that make a steering wheel hard to turn –
1. Low-Power Steering Fluid
One of the significant causes of a tight steering wheel is a lack of power steering fluid. This condition arises due to leakage of the fluid from the pressurised hose region. Topping up the liquid in the power steering tank will solve the problem in the meantime. However, make sure to take care of the fluid leakage to avoid further discrepancies.
2. Old and Thick Power Steering Fluid
Another common cause that makes a steering wheel hard to turn is the thickening of power steering fluid. Just like every other fluid in a car, the power steering fluid does not have an infinite lifetime. It gets thickened due to the accumulation of debris and dirt over time. Hence, changing it regularly according to the recommended intervals of the car manufacturer.
The thickening of the fluid will allow you to turn the steering wheel, but you will have to put more force to do so. That being said, hard steering eventually compromises your overall safety.
3. Malfunction of the Power Steering Pump
A power steering unit in a car consists of two components – a power steering pump and a rack-and-pinion unit. This power steering pump carries the steering fluid to the rack-and-pinion unit.
Additionally, one of the crucial roles of a power steering pump is to maintain optimum pressure in the power steering system so that the driver can smoothly turn the steering wheel and does not have to apply a lot of force. This pump is manufactured to last for a thousand miles, though due to some circumstances, it fails prematurely.
Screeching or whining noise while taking sharp turns is one of the signs of a bad power steering pump. Furthermore, this pump also fails due to damaged or loose connectors to the power steering pump.
4. Damaged Steering Rack
The primary function of the rack is to connect the steering wheel to systems that turn the wheel in the direction you are navigating. The rack is attached to the steering wheel with the help of a series of U-joints and shafts. The rack and other components wear out after continuous driving.
If you find it hard to steer the wheel, but the wheel turns as smoothly as it should, then there is an issue with the steering rack. Leaving this issue unnoticed can lead to further problems, which can cause you a lot of money for servicing and repairing.
5. Broken or Cracked Serpentine Belt
Hard steering is a result of a damaged serpentine belt. This serpentine belt helps in the functioning of the engine and power steering pump. Not repairing the belt can lead to permanent damage to the serpentine belt.
6. Inaccurate Tyre Pressure
Inadequate tyre pressure is one of the causes of a stiff steering wheel. All the tyres of your vehicle must be inflated according to the recommended PSI by the car manufacturer to avoid improper air pressure in each tyre.
Furthermore, maintenance and servicing of a vehicle is the best way to avoid hard steering. Inspect the power steering fluid regularly and check the power steering system when you send your vehicle for servicing. These factors improve a car's overall performance and play a vital role in increasing the mileage.