Steering is an incredibly important part of driving. You need to be sure that you can rely upon your vehicle’s steering system every time you get into the driving seat. Here we look at what loose steering is and how you can test for it:
What are the warning signs of loose steering?
Steering systems can find over-turning, commonly referred to as ‘free play’, challenging. When your steering wheel experiences too much over-turning, you may feel like you are unable to control your vehicle. Your steering will need constant correction in order to keep the vehicle in a straight line.
You may also hear a knocking noise when hitting bumps, notice a shimmy in the steering wheel when you’re driving at a high speed, and your vehicle may wander from side-to-side.
If you ignore any of these signs, you will find that your tires become excessively worn, it will become very difficult for you to steer, and you could even experience a part separation – resulting in a serious accident.
Testing for loose steering
If you’re wanting to get an idea of the problem before visiting a car mechanic, it’s a good idea to check the steering box.
Start by ensuring that the edge of the top cover gasket is sound and that its bolts are tight. Make sure you don’t turn the adjusting screw by mistake. To check the steering box, you need to raise the front of the car but keep its weight on the wheels, and then get underneath it while someone else turns the wheels slightly. To do this safely, you can drive onto a set of ramps, but they must be resting on a level surface, directly under the wheels. Apply the handbrake firmly and make sure the car is in gear. Check the steering box for leaks and wear. A low oil level in the box is generally a sign of a leak.
If you suspect any leaks or damage to the steering box, including cracks and other signs of wear, you need to seek the assistance of a car mechanic who can replace the box. You should also take your car into a garage if you suspect there is stiffness in the steering box, which a mechanic will be able to readjust for you.
You can also check for free play yourself by turning the steering wheel with the car stationary. You should not be able to turn it more than 7 centimetres, measured at the wheel rim, before the road wheels begin to turn.
At Windmill Garage, we can help with replacing steering racks, steering fluid leaks, steering joints, and steering rack gaiters