In an era where cruise control is available on most vehicles, the steering wheel has become the main way a driver can control their car on the road. Some manufacturers even provide braking assistance that can detect when a collision is about to happen and apply the brakes automatically. Steering, though, still happens manually for the vast majority of vehicles on the road.
This is unlike most other functions a driver carry out, as the only assistance the car offers is power steering. This means that when there is a problem with a part of the steering system, the driver will often feel it in their hands in the form of vibration, shaking, or general “looseness.”
How this system works:
The front wheels of a vehicle perform more than one function. They do the majority of the braking, they put some or all of the power from the engine to the road, and, of course, they do the very vital job of steering the car. This means that the steering system has to work around a lot of other parts under the hood.
There are a few key parts that can be found within almost every steering system:
- Steering Wheel:The wheel offers the driver control over where they want to go. This also is where you will feel most of your issues. Sometimes the dash will shake along with the wheel.
- Steering Column:The column is what brings the rotation down to the front wheels. It turns the wheels in the area you want to go.
- Steering Gearbox:This is used in older cars. The gear transfers the turning from the steering wheel down through the linkage to the wheels.
- Steering Rack and Pinion:The rack and pinion system is on the majority of newer vehicles. While this performs the same function as a steering gearbox, it is easier to steer the wheels with this system.
- Wheels:Wheels are what actually steer the vehicle left and right. Wheels and tires take a beating especially when the roads are not well maintained. Potholes, divots and other surface problems can wreak havoc on your wheels. Sadly, they are often negleted and abused without a second thought aside from the occasional air-pressure check. This is unfortunate, as the wheels are the most likely culprit in the event of an unusual vibration in the steering wheel.
SEE ALSO:HOW TO HANDLE A LOOSE STEERING
Common reasons for this to happen:
- The wheels are out of balance or maybe loose. Both loose lugs nut or unbalanced wheels can make the steering wheel to vibrate, usually becoming noticeable at a certain speed. The shaky steering will typically not be noticeable 5 mph below that speed or 5 mph above that speed.
- Wheel bearings can create vibrations when they fail, but you will normally hear a noise if this occurs.
- Tires are excessively worn or unevenly worn due to suspension troubles.
- Brake rotors are warped or glazed over. This only applies if the vibration occurs during braking.
How it’s done:
The mechanic will begin by checking the wheels and tires, and will then move on to check the steering from inside the vehicle. If nothing seems problematic at that point, they will check under the hood and under the car to see if any steering or suspension components are bent or broken.
How important is this service?
It goes without saying that the steering system is a vital part of your car’s safe operation. Book a mechanic to carry out a thorough inspection as soon as possible.