Why Is My Steering Wheel Hard to Turn

It is a frightening moment when you try to steer your car and your steering wheel is unresponsive. Fortunately, with a little muscle and concentration, you can normally get your car safely to the side of the road. However, when the power steering in your car stops working, it is important to get it fixed. Today’s cars are not designed to be maneuvered without the assistance of hydraulics, and it can be both physically and mentally taxing to drive a car without it. There are a number of things that could be wrong with your vehicle that can make your steering wheel hard to turn.
Check the power steering fluid
The most likely culprit is simply your power steering fluid being low. You can normally tell when your vehicle is low on fluid, as it will make a whining sound when you turn. Power steering fluid is available at all auto stores, and your car’s owner’s manual or a Haynes manual will show you where to add it. If you do not keep your power steering fluid at the recommended level, not only are you putting yourself and others in danger but you risk damaging your steering pump.
Power steering fluid leak
If you are noticing a puddle under your car on a regular basis and you also are having trouble with steering, you could have power steering fluid leak. This could be in a hose, at a clamp, or at a fitting. If you can determine where the leak is, it may be a simple fix for a “do it yourself” job, but normally this type of a repair should be done by a mechanic. The best way to check for a leak is to put a piece of dry clean cardboard under your engine and then check it for leaks after a few hours.
Serpentine belt could be loose
Another reason why your vehicle may be hard to steer is that your serpentine belt has come loose. It can stretch over time and slip and therefore is unable to drive the steering pump efficiently. This is especially likely if your air conditioning and alternator are not working properly either. This is a difficult repair and is probably best left to professionals.
Steering pump failure or mechanical linkage failure
If you have eliminated the above issues, then the likely reason for your poor steering is that your steering pump or the linkage leading to it has failed. You will have to have this diagnosed by a mechanic, and it can be a rather expensive repair.
The best way to treat a steering problem is to prevent one. Keep your fluids topped up at all times. If, however, you find that your power steering has failed, do not panic. You can safely drive and steer any car manually for the time it takes to get you to safety.






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