Having a steering wheel that is hard to turn is a pretty scary issue to have with your vehicle. It is unsettling to go from easily steering to having such a vital function not perform the way that you are used to it working. It can be dangerous to drive when the steering wheel is hard to turn, as you may not be able to keep yourself safe on the road. You should pull over immediately, and schedule a check with a mechanic.

How this system functions:

When the steering wheel is hard to turn, it’s almost certainly because of an issue with the power steering system. The power steering system helps you when you turn the wheel. Without the power steering, it’s incredibly difficult to turn your vehicle, because the weight on the wheels is too much force for you to move singlehandedly. The power steering uses fluid to generate pressure against the wheels when you turn the wheel. The pressure from the system forces the wheels to turn, and makes turning the steering wheel a much easier task for you.


Common causes for this to happen:

Here are the primary malfunctions in the power steering system that may make it hard for you to turn the steering wheel:

  • Power steering fluid is low: The force that lets your power steering to function properly is the result of the power steering fluid applying pressure against the piston inside the rack and pinion. As the amount of fluid in the power steering system goes down, the amount of force that can be applied to the piston lowers. When this happens, your steering is not aided as much by the power steering system, and the force required to turn the wheel now rests in the hands of the driver.
  • Damaged power steering belt: The action of the power steering system is propelled by the power steering belt. Like any other belt in your car, the functionality of a system begins and stops with the belt. Belts are one of the most susceptible part of your car. They can crack, snap, or loosen more easily than most other vehicle parts. If your power steering belt breaks, your power steering system will not be able to operate, and you’ll find it difficult to turn the steering wheel.
  • Damaged steering rack: The steering rack, which is a component of the rack and pinion, is the primary part of your steering assembly, and works in conjunction with the power steering system. Steering racks can get damaged over time as they develop wear and tear, and when they do, they make it much harder to steer your car. If your car is only hard to steer when you first turn it on, then you likely have a damaged steering rack. Often this problem will go away when the car warms up, and the rack becomes hot and well lubricated.
  • Low pressure in your tires: While a heavy steering wheel is almost always the result of a problematic or malfunctioning power steering system, it can also be made by low air pressure in one or more of your tires.

How it is done:

When you’re having a hard time turning the steering wheel, a mechanic will inspect your entire power steering system. Some of the potential problems with your power steering system – such as being low on power steering fluid, or having a broken power steering belt – are quick and straightforward repairs. Others, such as a damaged steering rack, can be a little bit more difficult.


After the issue in the power steering is solved, the power steering fluid will usually be flushed. This guarantees that the system is in the best shape before you start driving, and that any sludge or contamination generated by the malfunctioning system is no longer in the power steering fluid.

Finally, a mechanic will do a test drive with your car, to make sure that the steering wheel has returned to being easy to use, and that the car is turning smoothly and effectively.

How Vital is this service?

A steering wheel that is hard to turn is not just a frustrating hassle, it’s also a safety liability. Modern car were designed to have power steering systems, and they are nearly impossible to drive safely when they don’t have a properly functioning system. It’s unsafe to take your vehicle on the road when you find that the steering wheel is hard to turn. In addition to safety concerns, continuing to drive your car under this condition can cause further, more severe damage to the power steering system.