A vehicle that has loose steering can range from being a minor announce to frightening. Over-turning vehicles make sharper turns, meaning you can fast be in a different lane on the highway drifting into the path of another vehicle. Over-turning (also known as excessive play or free play) is not something to be ignored or taken lightly.
At best over turning can lead to premature tire wear.
At worst over turning can lead to accidents and part separation .
Signs of loose steering
- The vehicle can feel difficult to control; it might wander to the left or right and need constant correction to keep straight.
- The steering wheel can shake or shimmy at high speeds
- You notice a knocking sound when you drive over bumps
What causes loose steering
Generally the problem comes from looseness in the steering gear or linkage sockets of the steering system. It can also be caused by worn tire rods (which connect the tires to the steering unit) and other components in the chassis such as control arm bushings and ball joints. These issues are sometimes a normal part of general wear and there isn’t necessarily much to be done about it but be proactive when it happens.
How to diagnose loose steering
How can you be certain you have a steering wheel with excessive play? It is possible for experienced vehicle owners to inspect their steering box themselves and help to diagnose the fault but generally it’s best to take your car to a professional garage.
You should not be able to turn your steering wheel more than 1 and 1/2 inches without the tire moving. If you have symptoms of loose steering, this can be an indicator, though it’s best not to take the risk and get it checked out.
A garage can perform a relatively quick dry park test where one mechanic turns the wheel and another checks the linkages with a flashlight.
If you suspect you have loose steering or are concerned about your vehicle in any way, do not hesitate to contact the friendly and experienced family run mechanics at Fred’s Auto Center.