What Bad Steering May Mean

If your car pulls to one side that means that the alignment of the wheels is off-you should get your wheels aligned as soon as you get new tires. This is known as a torque steer. It is rather dangerous so it is important to fix.

A “memory steer” is when the car seems to continue in the same direction when you release the wheel instead of coming back to true. You might be a lack of air in the tires or worn out parts like suspension or steer.

Should the car move forward in reverse on a hill, this is a sign that gravity is more powerful than your car’s idle. The idle is set according to the vehicle’s specs, but as the car ages it can lose power. Having the idle set too high burns extra gas at stop lights so just make sure your mechanic is setting it to factory specs and hold the brake and apply some gas when on a hill. Don’t shift to reverse and then let the car be pulled forward because you might damage the engine.

Side Note: It may seem ridiculous but it’s worth mentioning–You can still drive with the handbrake pulled if you have enough throttle. DON’T! Driving with the brakes on damages your brakes as well as your transmission so it is not recommended.

Steering Rack Issues

A steering rack is another name for the rack and pinion steering system and consists of universal joints, main and intermediate shafts; the central unit is the part that receives information. The steering rack when it wears out can cause a considerable hazard. If you have an older car that seems to always have an alignment issue, have your mechanic check the steering rack.

When the tilt function of the wheel doesn’t work the wheel cannot be positioned correctly. Again, it is because of the steering rack.

Does the wheel seem to wobble to and fro of its own volition? If so, it is impossible to drive as well as highly dangerous—call your mechanic immediately. It takes a few days to replace a steering rack.

When it’s not the Steering Rack:

Another condition to watch out for is needing to make a large turn in order to make the car move forward, it is not safe at all. The power steering or an associated mechanism could be breaking down.

If the steering wheel feels quite tight and is harder to turn than usual it could just be that it needs more power steering fluid. (These are cars without electrical power steering). Other signs to watch out for are groaning sounds, especially while turning and a smell of burning oil, or maybe a squeaking sound. If the fluid is changed constantly this will prevent the problem somewhat.

A clunking or grinding noise may indicate that the steering rack is constantly rubbing against metal. It’s due to the steering rack wearing out, where seeing a mechanic comes in.

It could however be due to “struts” which are connected to the steering rods. Because replacing the steering rack is so expensive it is vital to get it right.

When Steering Problems Occur

After discovering a problem, you should attempt to get off the road as quickly as possible but make sure also it is safe to do so.

Another symptom to keep an eye out for is that the steering wheel feels lose and doesn’t seem to return to the center. The vehicle might seem unstable and you may not be able to keep it in the right lane. With a bad steering system every obstacle such as a pothole becomes twice as hard to negotiate. So take any sound or maneuverability issue as serious and get it to a mechanic ASAP.

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