7 Reasons why your car steering wheel is stiff while turning

How does a car steering wheel work?

The steering wheel is an integral component consisting of a steering pump, pulley, steering gear and rotary valve in a power steering wheel that converts the rotational motion of the steering wheel into a linear motion required to turn the road wheel to manoeuvre the vehicle in motion.

A rack and pinion steering system operate as a cause and effect to turn the road front wheel tires in a full left lock or full right lock rotation.

How a power steering wheel works?

The power rack and pinion steering system consisting of a piston connected to the rack with a cylinder mounted in the middle with two fluid ports one in either side for supplying higher pressure fluid to the piston to move the rack.

The engine drives a pump via a belt and pulley that supplies oil under high pressure to the rack or the steering box. The values open whenever wheels are turned allowing oil into the cylinder.

The oil lubricates the piston that helps to push the steering in an appropriate direction. When the wheels stop turning, the valve shuts and the pushing action of the piston stops.

7 Reasons why your car steering wheel is stiff while turning

Motor vehicles are equipped with a power steering wheel mechanism to enhance the driving experience. Due to a mechanical fault, the steering wheel becomes stiff making driving a nightmare. In this tutorial, We shall examine 8 reasons why a car steering wheel become stiff while turning.   

Bad steering pump

A power steering pump produces pressure created at the high side of the power steering hose in the form of a fluid which flows to the input side of the control valve. The fluid is pumped from the reservoir into the steering gear when needed.

A quick assessment to know whether you have a bad steering pump are: – During a cold start of the engine, you will hear a whining noise from the bonnet and experience stiffness while turning the steering wheel, Examine the power steering pump lines for fluid leakage.

Improper wheel alignment

Wheel alignment is a periodic automotive maintenance procedure that involves adjusting angles of the wheels so that there are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.

The importance of wheel alignment is to maximise on the tyre life span and ensure the car movement is straight out without pulling on one side.

To rule out the fault with the stiffness of the steering wheel more especially while making turns, check whether recent wheel alignment was performed correctly.

Leakage in the steering hoses

The hoses or tubing carry power steering fluid from the pump to the steering gear or rack. Over time due to the softness of the hose, there is leakage of power steering fluid loss insufficient to create pressure to the steering gear.

Low tyre pressure

Low tyre pressure decreases stability and manoeuvrability. The steering wheel becomes stiffer to turn more especially low tyre pressure on the front wheel. Ensure you have the manufacturer recommended tyre pressure (PSI).

Old or loose steering belt

The power steering belt supplies power to the steering wheel, overtime when this belt also is known as V-belt style or serpentine belt become old or loose, there is a reduction of the transfer of power to the steering wheel hence stiffness of the steering wheel.

Faulty tie-end rods

Tie rods are attached on both ends of the steering rack to transmit movement able to push and pull the front tires as the steering wheel is turned. Failing tie end rods causes a slight disconnect between the steering movement and the associated movement in the wheel, this causes loose steering feel while turning.

Low power steering fluid

A whining noise from under the bonnet while turning the wheel or stiffness is indicative of a low steering fluid or worse still a leakage in the power steering pump lines. Replace fluid or ask your mechanic to examine for any other leakages with the steering power pump to rule out this fault.

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