The most common complaint when it comes to compromised steering wheels is that they're hard to turn or they're not as responsive as you'd like. Because most people drive at low speeds in the city with loads of traffic jams, this problem becomes quite obvious at every attempt to turn.
If your steering wheel or power steering system has issues, then you should go to a mechanic and have that looked up.
With that said, what causes these issues to crop up in the first place? What makes the power steering system malfunction? It could be any number of reasons to be honest, especially in light of the many components within the system itself.
The Common Causes of Steering Wheel or Power Steering Malfunction
- Bad Steering Rack: If your steering wheel is stiff when turning after you've started the car, then it might have steering rack issues. As your engine stays turned on for a longer period of time, the steering rack gets hotter and its functionality becomes compromised due to the lubricant within it settling down in high temperatures.
- Broken Serpentine Belt: The serpentine belt of your car is always in constant use whenever you drive. Over time, it will get worn down. It can snap into two or become loose. Your steering wheel will start feeling stiff once it gets too tight or too loose. You should replace the belt before it breaks because you won't even be able to start the car once that happens.
- Leaky Fluid: The fluid of your power steering system might leak out from the pressurized hose area. There are times when this hose will get loose or cracked, just like in the case of the serpentine belt. Because the fluid is required for pressurization of the system and pump lubrication, you'll have a stiff steering wheel until the leak is addressed and fixed post-haste.
- Thick Fluid: Over time, the fluid for your power steering system gets thicker and thicker, which can be as problematic as having it leak out. If the fluid isn't changed regularly the same way you'd change your oil and other lubricating fluids, it might coagulate to the point of not being of much help as a lubricant. This also causes stiffness when you steer.
- Pump Failure: Once the pump stops working you'll have a bad time trying to turn the steering wheel and making your car's wheels respond in kind. In such situations, the pump won't stop the steering wheel from moving. However, it will feel like you don't have any power steering in your vehicle at all.