Is your steering wheel hard to turn? The steering wheel is one of the most integral parts of any vehicle. Without a proper functioning steering wheel, you will not be able to perform basic tasks like making a turn, changing lanes, or maneuvering your car into a parking spot.

Any problem that can make the steering hard to turn is very dangerous for you and your car as well as other cars on the road as you cannot expect to drive your car properly without a properly functioning steering wheel.

A faulty steering wheel can cause a lot of issues that can make the steering wheel laborious to turn at lower speeds and it also becomes almost unusable after a certain driving period. All these problems can indicate a lot of serious issues that make the steering hard to turn and these issues need to be addressed as soon as possible to ensure no serious incidents or accidents occur.

Figuring out what part of the steering wheel is causing issues can be very hard at times as there are multiple issues that can cause the steering wheel shaking. These issues if not taken care of properly can have severe ramifications in the future. With that being said, here we will discuss all the issues and reasons that can make the steering hard to turn;

Low Power Steering Fluid Can Make The Steering Wheel Hard To Turn

This is one of the most common issues that can result in a stiff steering wheel. This problem ordinarily occurs when you do not have enough steering fluid in the system. The power steering system needs fluid to ensure that it works properly. The purpose of this fluid is to make sure that the entire system works properly without any resistance. It lubricates the entire steering system which makes it run smoothly.

Over time, this fluid can get contaminated and requires replacement after a period of time. If you do not get this problem fixed, will it make the steering wheel hard to turn but it will cause other steering issues like your steering wheel feeling heavy at low speeds and it becoming really stiff and hard to use. So this is an issue that should not be taken lightly.

Damaged Serpentine Belt

Damaged Serpentine Belt

If you’re wondering why ‘my steering wheel is hard to turn all of a sudden’, you will be surprised. Another common issue that makes the steering wheel hard to turn is a damaged or broken serpentine belt. A damaged belt will make it impossible for you to drive your car by making handling almost impossible. The serpentine belt makes sure that everything stays in place and performs as intended.

However, like any other piece of equipment, the belt gets damaged and wears down over time. It can also get loose and reach a point where it makes your steering hard to turn all of a sudden. That is why it is absolutely essential that you get your serpentine belt regularly checked out and replaced in case of any damage to ensure that your steering wheel does not become hard to turn.

Power Steering Pump Failure

The power steering pump is responsible for generating enough pressure necessary for the entire steering system to work properly. If the pump becomes faulty for some reason it can cause steering wheel shaking and stiffness. It can also result in the steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds.

It is however important to note that these pumps do not fail completely, rather they fail prematurely, so they cannot completely jam up your entire steering system. Although it does not completely jam the steering system, it can still cause severe steering issues that can make your vehicle impossible to properly handle and use.

So, whenever you experience these handling issues in your vehicle, it is important that you get it checked out to make sure that these problems can be taken care of quickly.

Issues with the Steering Rack

Issues with the Steering Rack

This is another issue that can make your steering hard to turn. The steering rack is made up of the pinion and the rack in the vehicle. A series of joints and shafts help keep the steering rack attached to the steering wheel mechanism. The steering rack can become loose and damaged from simply driving your vehicle for a certain period of time.

Once this rack becomes damaged, it can cause your steering wheel to not function properly in certain situations and it can also result in a stiff steering wheel. If the steering rack becomes an issue you will be able to locate and fix the problem relatively easily.

However, if you ignore this issue and keep using your vehicle, the steering rack will keep getting overheated and this will result in the steering wheel becoming harder to use and turn. So it is important that you get your steering rack replaced before the problem escalates.

Thickening of the Power Steering Fluid

Power Steering Fluid

If you get your car checked out by a mechanic and you find that your steering fluid is full but the wheel is still stiff, then this can mean that your power steering fluid has become too thick which has affected your steering wheel in such a way that it has become hard to turn and handle. This is an unavoidable problem that is certain to occur after a period of time.

Like all the other fluids that are present in a vehicle, the power steering fluid also has a limited lifespan and they also collect additional dirt and debris over the course of time. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you get your steering fluid changed regularly to make sure that it does not cause any major issues like making the steering wheel tough to turn down the line.

A thickened steering fluid does not completely jam your steering wheel but it can stiffen up your steering wheel and cause other steering problems if it is not taken care of properly. So, it is important that you get the old fluid flushed out and get the power steering fluid replaced to avoid all these problems.

Tire Pressure Can Also Make A Steering Wheel Hard to Turn

Last but not the least, the tire pressure can also make your steering wheel hard to turn. Improper tire pressure and deflated tires can trigger this problem and can make your steering wheel difficult to turn all of a sudden. So, all tires should be properly inflated according to the guidelines that have been set by the manufacturer.

Furthermore, the front-end alignment can also cause steering issues. Uneven front tires will make your car pull to a side when you are driving which can make steering your vehicle particularly difficult. That is why it is absolutely essential that you get your vehicle regularly checked out to make sure that none of these problems occur.

Solving the Issues that make the Steering Wheel Hard to Turn

Restoring the normal functionality of the steering wheel is absolutely crucial as it can save you from serious accidents and injuries down the line. There are a plethora of ways in which you can solve these steering problems and here we will discuss a few of them in detail;

Checking the Air Pressure of your Tires

Tire Pressure

If you observe issues that make your steering wheel troublesome to turn at lower speeds. The first thing you need to do is to check the pressure of all the tires in your car. It is important that all the tires are filled equally and are filled according to the limit that has been issued by the manufacturer. Under-filling or over-filling your tires can cause severe handling issues so it is important that you get it done properly to avoid them.

Properly Checking the Power Steering and the Fluid Level in the System

If your steering wheel becomes hard to turn and has become shaky, then get your power steering system properly checked. These issues can be caused by a faulty system or fluid problems. So, whenever this type of problem occurs, get the power steering system checked.

Inadequate fluid can cause your steering wheel to stiffen up and shake uncontrollably. That is why you need to keep your fluid at the optimum level so that these problems don’t occur. You also need to keep an eye on the color of the fluid. If it is dark red, it means that everything is ok; but if it becomes too dark or completely black then get your fluid replaced.

Checking the Pulley on the Power Steering Unit

Power Steering Unit

If you are still facing steering problems, check the pulley of the power steering unit. This pulley also ensures that your engine is operating safely. So it is important to see if the tension on the pulley is exceeding or not.

Furthermore,  also check the car engine to ensure that the pulley belt is in good shape as it can cause major steering problems if it becomes damaged.

Make sure that the Serpentine Belt is Working Properly

The serpentine belt is located next to the reservoir where the engine fluid is being held. While examining the serpentine belt, make sure that you check for any sort of cracks or breaks in the belt.

A damaged or broken serpentine belt can make your wheel hard to turn. So it is important that you get it properly checked out and replaced. If you ignore it, it can lead to a major tear or damage.

Checking the Power Steering System for Possible Leaks

Power Steering System for Possible Leaks

A punctured or a damaged pressure hose in the power steering system can also cause serious problems. This can result in the steering fluid leaking which will result in making your steering wheel hard to turn. It is important that you search for traces of liquid on the parts that are present near the pressure hose.

If you detect any major leaks, then installing a new pressure will be your best course of action. It will make your steering wheel smoother and easier to use.

Inspecting the Tie Rod Ends and Ball Joints on the Wheels

The rod ends and ball joints present in the wheels need to be lubricated at regular intervals. Doing this ensures that your steering stays smooth and works as intended. If you do not get them lubricated at regular intervals, you can cause severe wear and tear. This will ultimately have a negative impact on the steering of your vehicle.

So, it is important to get your rod ends and ball joints regularly lubricated. It will ensure that no handling or steering issues occur in your vehicle.


As stated above, the steering wheel is arguably one of the most important parts of a vehicles’ control system. It allows you to properly handle your car and drive safely. Even the slightest issue or problem with the steering wheel can be detrimental for you. This can cause a severe accident if it is not taken care of properly. Ignoring these issues can be severely dangerous and it can cause the problems to become worse. If not addressed, it can become even more severe with the passage of time.

Regular maintenance and scheduled servicing is the only way in which you can stay on top of these issues. Make sure that your steering wheel does not become hard to turn or use. In order to avoid all these problems, it is important that you regularly check the power steering fluid level. Also, make sure that you get every single aspect of your steering system properly examined. This can be the only thing that separates you from life and death.

So, as a car owner, it is your job to make sure that the power steering system is working.  It should so that you do not have to encounter issues like the steering wheel becoming hard to turn.


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