Why Is My Steering Wheel Hard to Turn? 4 Troubleshooting Tips

Two hands on a steering wheel.
Power steerings can wear out as the system ages, but they're ways to combat the problem. Speak to your mechanic. Bim / Getty Images

Most modern cars come equipped with power steering, but as systems age they can wear out. Problems with alignment or the power steering pump can also cause the power steering system to stop working — and nobody wants a stiff steering wheel.

If you find yourself taking a sharp left and wondering, "Why is my steering wheel hard to turn?" follow the simple tips and techniques below to diagnose your power steering problem.

Check the Power Steering Fluid Level

If there's not enough power steering fluid, it'll be hard to make turns. Unscrew the cap of the power steering pump and check the fluid level.

If it's not full, buy power steering fluid from your local automotive supply store and refill the pump. If you have to add power steering fluid frequently, you may have a leak in your car's steering system.

Check for Leaks

Inspect the hoses and lines around the power steering pump for possible leaks.

Lift the front end of the car with a jack. Check the seals of the rack and pinion for leaks. If you have an older car, you may have a recirculating ball unit to check instead.

Check for Loose Belts

Have someone turn on the engine and turn your car's steering wheel while you listen for any noise coming from the pump. A loud, screechy sound indicates a loose power steering belt that needs adjustment.

The drive belt, or serpentine belt, powers the power steering pump and other systems and should last 60,000 to 100,000 miles (about 95,000 to 160,000 kilometers), according to Firestone.

When to See a Mechanic

If none of these steps pinpoints a problem, a mechanic can raise your car up on a lift or ramp to check for problems under the car. A mechanic can also look for problems within the steering column or steering rack.

Original article: Why Is My Steering Wheel Hard to Turn? 4 Troubleshooting Tips

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