What to know about the Steering Damper:
Your steering and suspension system is a composite combination of diverse mechanisms. One of those components is the steering damper or the steering stabilizer (if you’re more familiar with that particular term). Irrespective of what you call it, the part does the same thing. Its job is to stabilize the steering wheel, while mitigating travel (back and forth rotation while driving over bumps in the road) and vibration from the wheels and suspension system.
The steering damper works on the same principle as your struts and shocks, and like your struts and shocks, will eventually wear out and need to be changed. When it does wear out and fail, you’ll notice that the vehicle’s handling becomes “sloppy”, and there’s a great deal more vibration conveyed to the wheel during driving.
Facts to Note:
It’s a good idea to have the rest of your steering system examined when the steering damper is changed.
Bushings, links, grommets and other components also wear out over time, and substituting them with the damper can save you an additional visit from the mechanic, as well as providing considerably improved handling.
How to Fix:
The vehicle is raised and held on jack stands
The defective steering damper is detached from the steering linkage and frame
The new steering damper is fixed and connected to the steering linkage and frame
The steering is exercised to make sure it functions smoothly without binding
The vehicle is removed from jack stands and road tested for proper steering operation
Bear in mind that it’s impossible to examine your steering damper during normal upkeep, so it’s vital that you pay attention to the changes in your vehicle’s steering and handling. If you begin to notice that your car’s steering wheel feels loose or sloppy, that it travels back and forth a great deal over even minor bumps, or that the car is hard to steer, contemplate having your steering damper changed.
Common symptoms indicating you may need to change the Steering Damper:
Back and forth travel of the steering wheel while driving over bumps or dips
Difficulty in steering
A feeling of looseness or “sloppiness” in the wheel
Importance of this service:
Although your car will still be drivable without a working steering damper, it can be uncomfortable and difficult to drive. This poses a safety risk, so replacing your steering damper when it fails (or begins to fail) is pretty vital. However, this is a delicate task requiring a significant amount of knowledge regarding the complex steering system in your car. As such, we highly recommend that you only allow a professional mechanic to change the steering damper.