7 Signs of a Bad Steering Wheel and How to Fix Them

Updated Aug 16, 2022 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

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Different parts of a car have different lifespans and eventual maintenance checks are a great way of detecting, if not preventing them. Wheels need to be checked every once in a while and so the oil levels in the internal parts of the car.

These are the parts of the vehicle that we don’t really have much time to give attention to every day especially if we are busy or have just gotten used to living in the fast lane. But what if the concern is the steering wheel?

Whenever you get in the car, you might not notice immediately that one of its tires is flat, that the car is low is on gas or that there’s even a leak. But how long would it take before you notice that there’s something wrong with the steering wheel? Even readers here at Philkotse.com don't seem to search that much for the steering wheel.

the steering wheel of a car

The steering wheel is used by the driver more often than the other parts of the car

After you get into the car, you plug in the keys and turn it to start the engine. You set the shift to drive and hold on to the steering wheel before you step on the gas and the car moves. How high are the chances that you’ll notice that there is something wrong with it? Very high, right?

Because unlike most other parts of a car, the steering wheel is an essential part that maneuvers the car and it’s also the part most exposed to the driver; therefore it’s very easy to notice. But how can one be so sure that something is indeed wrong with the steering wheel? Keep on reading to find out!

1. Is the steering suddenly difficult to turn or control?

A lot of the contemporary car models these days are more inclined to power steering. If your car has power steering and the maneuvering is difficult then it could mean a problem.

Can't control the steering wheel

How will you be able to make turns if the steering wheel is bad?

Initial check-up step should be done on the fluid reservoir. If it’s full then there should be no problem, if not then fill it up. If the same incident happens again and the fluid reservoir is abnormally low then check for signs of the leak.

This is usually easy to do since the odor of fluid reservoir can easily be recognized. Places and areas where the leak can be possible are in the hoses, the steering rack or sometimes the steering pump.

>>> Related: What is hand over hand steering?

2. Do you feel an abnormal vibrating sensation from the steering wheel?

If yes, then this could be a sign of either one of these two particular things; a problem with the wheel alignment or a something is wrong with the power steering. If the bet is higher with the vibrations being caused by power steering, then the most probable cause could be contaminants that have accumulated in the system. Incidents like these cause the steering wheel to give off a pulsating vibration.

steering fluid flush

A power steering flush solves a shaky steering wheel

The best repair procedure for this would be a power steering flush and everything should be back to normal.

>>> Related: How to unlock a steering wheel without key: 3 easy steps

3. Does the steering slip off of your hands when you try to turn or hold it while it’s in a turned position?

If you experience this and haven’t gotten into an accident yet then you’re pretty quick and lucky. This is another signal that supports theories of the power steering failing. These could be caused by a variety or even a combination of problems. It could be faulty pumps, loose o worn out steering belts and even defective pumps.

4. Does the steering wheel feel a little “off” or at least a little loose?

If you’re sure that it is and it’s not just the late night stressor effects of booze that gives off that hallucination, then there might really be a problem.

loose wheel

A loose wheel is scary and it should be because that means you'll have difficulty controlling it

Check the steering racks and tie rods. If it seems worn out then be prepared to make expensive replacements.

>>> Related: Rack and pinion leaking: Symptoms, Causes, & How to fix

5. Is there extremely severe steering wheel vibration whenever you attempt to accelerate or make a turn?

This may seem similar to the other scenario mentioned above but happens when a different action with the steering wheel is committed. If this happens a lot then the problem is with the tie rods. The problem is that they must be worn out. Letting this continue will end up with the whole car vibrating. And if that happens, there is a high chance of losing control over the steering wheel.

Get a certified mechanic and have him do the replacements. If possible, ask to do further inspections to make sure everything else is in tip-top shape.

6. Does the car pull to the left or to the right without your intention of doing so?

This is a usual effect when the steering gears are getting old and worn out. There are also cases when the premature steering gear wear may occur. This happens when there’s an insufficient amount of lubrication because the power steering fluid may be either lacking or leaking.

Check first if there really is a leak, once confirmed; amend from there.

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turning the steering wheel

It's not psychic, if a wheel is hard to turn or turns on its own then something must be wrong

7. Does the power steering fluid look discolored or has a foamy consistency?

If it’s a yes, then there’s no doubt that there could be a presence of either air or other liquid element in the power steering fluid. This means the fluid that has been going around the parts aren’t lubricating them properly since there are already foreign contaminants mixed in.

A foamy power steering fluid is something you don't want to see. It signifies that too much air has entered and incorporated with it and so it needs to be replaced. It’s definitely best to replace the liquid. Also, take note if there are leaks that took place to detect other problems.

8. Conclusion

Further damages and even accidents can be greatly prevented if only regular car maintenance are performed. Wearing and tearing is also a natural process that takes place almost in all areas in life and so it’s no different if it happens in your car.

Regular car check-ups are definitely worth doing rather than putting up with an extremely large repair bill at the end of neglecting just one of these signs. Early detection of problems with the steering wheel also inhibits chances of lethal accidents.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

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