What causes a steering wheel hard to turn?

What causes a steering wheel stiff / hard to turn?

Together with the suspension, the steering is the other component of a car that takes the heaviest wear. Do not wait for simple problems to turn out to be costly and rather very dangerous for your life. Always look out for simple alerts and symptoms to do with steering and suspension problems by ensuring proper maintenance all the time.

While designing a vehicle’s steering system, the purpose is mainly to enable you change lanes or even turn well with ease as you drive. The steering system was also designed in connection to a number of auto parts within the wheels. That is reason why the front wheels will turn every time you turn the steering .As you get used to your car, you will definitely know when the systems are compromised the moment you experience a problem. You may encounter difficulties turning the steering wheel; this means the car may continue in a straight line even after turning the steering to its limits.

rack steering suspension

The possible causes of a compromise with the steering may include the following;

  • Damaged or loose steering belt.

A steering wheel may be having a problem if you notice that the vehicle is slowing down. This is often experienced as you turn especially in a blind curve. Please note this as a problem the moment you encounter it and pay immediate attention. The car may fail to turn even after you vigorously turn it for some good minutes.

TRW has recently started production of its electrically powered steering (EPS) belt drive system for the first time on a global vehicle platform launching in China to deliver improved fuel economy and advanced steering functions. (PRNewsFoto/TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.)

How do deal with a damaged or loose steering belt?

You could possibly repair or completely replace the steering belt. Chances are that you may want to consider replacing it as the repair does not necessarily stop it from getting back into bad shape. You wouldn’t want to frequent the garage for a steering belt, why not replace it therefore.

  • Low power steering fluid.

While turning the steering, a fluid is required to lubricate the process. Due to the pressure caused during the process of turning the steering wheel, the power steering fluid level may run too low hence causing the steering to become hard to turn.

steering rack

Solve this by regularly checking on your power steering fluid just like any other of the vehicle’s fluid levels such as coolant, fuel, engine oil and others. Checking the color of the fluid also helps a lot. It should be a dark reddish fluid. The color change may be as a result of the oil being too old. Changing it will solve the problem.

  • Leakage in a power steering pump.

Realizing that the fluid in your steering is running too low might not be associated with how much fluid you have or put in the pump. The problem could simply be a leak on your steering pump which eventually makes the steering stiff and hence hard to turn.

Power steering pump

Possible solution. Check the steering pump for any signs of leakage and if damaged, immediately replace it especially if the damage is extensive. You need to also ensure that the power steering pump is attaining enough pressure for it to function well.

  • Damaged Mount or steering rack.


You may experience a persistent resistance from the steering wheel as you turn it or even an unsteady back and forth movement.Normall a bit o resistance is ok as you turn the steering wheel, but as you hold and turn the steering firmly and steadily but still continue to experience resistance and unsteady back and forth movement, there could be a damage with the mounting. Remember to check the ball joints and tie rods.

Also note that running a test by starting the engine while the car is in park mode might reveal some signs from which you can know whether there’s a problem or not. You should also turn the wheels back and forth as you listen out for any squealing and bearing sounds.

Dealing with a damaged mount.

As you feel that the steering wheel is becoming more and more resistible, ensure to check the steering rack or mount for any signs of damage which you need to repair sooner than later.

You may also consider proper wheel alignment to sort this out

Other solutions to a hard steering wheel may also be the following;

Ensuring that air pressure in the tyres is sufficient. The air in all the tyres should be equal so as guided by the PSI recommendations of the manufacturer. Low pressure in the car tryre may bring about a stiff steering.

Inspection of the pulley to check for proper tension. You may press down with your thumb on the belt to check the tension. The pulley belt should have no frayed edges or cracks for it to be good.

car pulley system



A visual inspection is also good to watch the engine run as you check if the pulley belt is smoothly running. The moment the belt slips, then you are bound to have an erratic and stiff steering.