Uncomfortable, if not downright terrifying, is a sudden lack of steering wheel response. Even though steering wheel lock-up on newer cars is uncommon, it can happen. The most common reasons for a steering wheel to lock while driving are a problem with the power steering system, a steering rack/column or suspension issue, a car ignition lock problem, or sharp turns.
The reasons why your steering wheel is locked should be classified into 3 occasions. Keep reading and figure out the reasons.
Steering Wheel Has Locked Up While Parked (ignition Lock)
An ignition lock feature is available on many contemporary cars with turn-key ignitions. Once the key has been taken out of the ignition, turn the wheel to engage this feature. This will activate a locking bolt that prevents the steering wheel from turning without a key.
This practical anti-theft feature is great. The steering wheel won’t budge, so even if a would-be thief managed to start the engine, they couldn’t drive the car.
If you accidentally turned on the steering lock and you’re not familiar with this feature, this could result in an alarming situation. Turn the key in the ignition to deactivate the lock, but be aware that there will typically be a lot of tension on the lock cylinder, making it difficult or impossible to turn the key.
Turn the steering wheel a little to let this tension out. It ought to be able to move a little in at least one direction. This will ease the pressure on the lock, allowing you to turn the key and disengage the lock cylinder.
Remember that if you use the steering wheel to help you get in or out of the car, you could unintentionally activate the steering lock.
Steering Wheel Locks While Driving
Steering Wheel Lock Engaged
It’s bad news and potentially dangerous if your steering wheel locks up while you’re driving, but what if it locks up before you even turn the key in the ignition? That is most likely the steering wheel lock on your car, an anti-theft feature found on nearly all contemporary vehicles.
After removing the key from the ignition and turning the steering wheel, the steering lock will be activated.
The steering wheel will become impossible to turn as soon as you feel it lock into place. The steering wheel might budge slightly in one direction, but it ought to be completely immobile in the opposite.
Additionally, you won’t be able to turn the ignition. You might not be aware that you had accidentally engaged the steering wheel lock if, for example, you leaned on the wheel to support yourself while getting out of the car.
The steering wheel lock can be easily released, though. To make the key turn, you must let go of the lock cylinder’s tension. The steering wheel will then be freed as a result.
Simply loosen up a little by turning the wheel in the direction it will move, then turn the key at the same time. You can resume your day after the lock disengages.
Bad Power Steering System
Modern cars’ steering wheels would be extremely difficult to turn without the power steering system’s assistance. Even while you are driving, your steering wheel may bind if your power steering suddenly fails.
A modern car’s power steering system exerts a ton of pressure to aid in turning.
It might even be impossible for you to turn the wheel if that assistance suddenly disappears, such as if there is insufficient power steering fluid, a failing power steering pump, a broken drive belt, or stuck valves inside the power steering rack.
In this case, you must safely stop your vehicle and call for a tow to our service facility. We can identify the problems with your car’s power steering and fix them, allowing for easy turning with little effort once more.
Frozen Steering Linkage
The steering wheel is connected to the steering rack by a number of linkages. To enable smooth rotation, the steering column’s various gears, joints, and bearings need to be lubricated.
The steering column may eventually become stuck if debris jams the gears or the joints dry out over time. At different points along the steering wheel’s travel, turning will become very challenging as a result.
How do you determine whether there is an issue with the mechanical steering linkage or the power steering system? Try turning the wheel while the engine is idling, then increase the RPMs to about 2,000, and then give it another go.
If the steering becomes more effortless as engine speed increases, your power steering system is probably malfunctioning. The power steering system has more oomph thanks to the engine’s higher output, which helps you steer.
It might be a mechanical problem with the steering column if binding continues to happen in the same manner regardless of engine speed.
Steering Wheel Binds In One Direction (power Steering Issues)
We can also tell that you have power steering issues if you notice that your steering wheel locks up when you try to turn in a specific direction or at a specific point in the steering wheel’s travel.
The power steering fluid may not be the problem, though, as the system appears to be working the other way this time. The power steering system itself could be malfunctioning mechanically.
The internals of the power steering rack may be clogged or the power steering rack itself may be defective.