Loose Steering Wheel: The Causes & Symptoms

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

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The steering wheel is a critical component of any modern vehicle, providing drivers with the necessary control to navigate the roads safely. However, if you’ve ever experienced loose steering, you might be wondering: Why does my steering wheel feel loose? Let’s find out with this article!

Loose Steering Wheel Symptoms

Trouble Turning Your Steering Wheel

Your hand wheel may be on the verge of breakdown if it is rigid and requires more effort to turn than usual. Power steering, a feature in all new cars, aids the rack and pinion system, which is frequently utilized and makes it simpler for drivers to turn the wheel. It will become rigid and more difficult to turn if the power steering fails.

Unusual Sounds

When you spin the steering wheel, your automobile may make strange noises like grinding or screeching. This is typically a sign of loose screws or belts, but it can also mean low power steering fluid.

Slipping Or Pulling To One Side

Your steering wheel is definitely malfunctioning if you try to hold it in a turned position and it begins to slip. One of the most prevalent indicators of loose steering is this, which can be brought on by worn-out steering rack mounts, worn-out steering belts, or both.

What Causes Loose Steering Wheel

Causes Loose Steering Wheel

Worn Down Tie Rods

The tie rods serve as the link between the steering wheel and the tire assembly. When driving, these will become looser and wear down after a while of use. 

They can last the whole life of the automobile under typical driving circumstances, but the lifespan may be shortened based on your driving habits, where you drive, and the road condition your car must navigate.

Worn Down Pitman Arm

The Pitman arm is crucial in connecting the steering wheel and the wheels. The way your steering wheel behaves is one of the most frequent signs of your current Pitman arm wearing down. 

It is likely that you will notice excessive play and looseness in your steering. And you could tell that it took longer to spin the steering wheel than usual.

Worn Down Ball Joints

The suspension and wheels/tires are connected via ball joints. Depending on how your car is built, there may be lower ball joints or upper ball joints. 

Regardless, all it takes for steering to become loose with a faulty ball joint. This problem can impact the camber of the wheels, leading to poor steering response and a tendency to pull the steering to one side.

Damaged Rack Mounts

Impact absorption and stability maintenance are the two purposes of steering rack mounts. Uneven wear on the rack mounts may trigger your steering wheel to have excessive vibration from one side to the other when you turn it. Additionally, the steering column may make clunking noises or vibrate.

What To Do When Your Steering Wheel Feels Loose

What To Do When Your Steering Wheel Feels Loose

Taking the car to the automotive repair service facility and having the necessary steering components replaced or repaired is the best move in this case. 

To pinpoint the specific issue, the mobile mechanic will crank your wheel while the vehicle is idling and observe how the wheels react.

An adjustment or tightening may be necessary for some circumstances. Meanwhile, replacement is the only solution if your wheel suffers from more severe wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drive With A Loose Steering Wheel?

No. It is not recommended to drive with a loose steering wheel, as it can be a serious safety hazard. A loose steering wheel can entail many problems that compromise the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, becoming a danger for you and others.

Can You Drive With A Broken Steering Rod?

Yes, a worn-out tie rod usually allows you to continue driving. However, if it fully fails, you will lose steering control and probably require a tow to get back home or to an auto repair & tire center.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Loose Steering Wheel?

The cost for this common car repair varies based on the nature and extent of the problem, the make and model of the car, and other factors. A loose steering wheel can cost anywhere from 150 dollars for a modest adjustment or more for extra complicated repairs.

The Bottom Line

When a steering wheel feels loose, it can be a serious safety hazard that can compromise your ability to control the vehicle. Suppose you notice any of the mentioned-above signs of damage or difficulty in steering; it is important to have the issue diagnosed and repaired by an experienced mechanic.

Also, regular maintenance and visual inspections of the steering system can help prevent loose steering wheels from occurring in the first place.

See more: How to unlock a steering wheel?

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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.

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