No one knows your vehicle as well as you do, and you are best placed to know when something is ‘a little off’ or to notice small changes straight away. And so it is with your steering. If you are worried that it may be a little loose then it probably does need to be checked out; after all, it is one of the key components of your vehicle that will keep you safe on the road. This month we explore loose steering – what it feels like, what may cause it, and what to do about it.
What does loose steering feel like?
The main symptom of loose steering, and probably the first thing you will notice, is overturning when you take a turn. Also known as ‘free play’, you’ll notice that as you take a turn your steering goes a little too far than you intend it to, and you need to correct the movement.
Another symptom you may notice is a knocking sound when you hit a bump in the road. Finally, if you are on the motorway, or any other road where you can travel at higher speeds, you may feel a shimmy in the steering, or it feels like the car is moving from side to side more than it should.
If you notice any of the above, or a combination of them, then it is time to get your car to the mechanic as the steering could deteriorate quickly. Any separation of parts through such deterioration could lead to a serious accident. If you feel that your steering is loose, the best course of action is to stop as soon as you can and get your car inspected by your mechanic.
What causes loose steering?
There are three main reasons for steering to become loose, which are:
- Worn out linkages that connect the steering box, rack, or pinion which join the steering wheel to the steering column.
- The linkages that connect the steering box to the front wheels.
- Front suspension parts, enabling the wheel to turn and which hold the tyres in the correct position.
How is it diagnosed and fixed?
Your mechanic will do the following to identify exactly where the problem is in order to fix it:
- Turn the steering wheel while the car is stationary and have a colleague check how the wheels are turning. The wheels should begin to turn at around a 7cm turn at the wheel rim. Anything less than this indicates a problem.
- They will put the car onto a hoist and lift it up in order to get underneath it to check the steering box and inspect each steering linkage.
- They will check the steering box for wear and tear or any leaks which would manifest through low oil levels in the box.
If you suspect that your steering is loose then don’t waste any time in getting in touch with us at Bromley Vehicle Test Centre. Call us on 020 8460 6666 for some initial advice and to book your car in for an inspection. Our job is to keep you safe and we will get you back on the road as soon as possible.