man with hands on steering wheelSteering problems can make driving your car difficult, if not impossible. They also create a significant safety issue, as your car cannot be properly controlled or maneuvered as easily. If you’re attempting to sell the vehicle, this glaring issue can affect resale value.

No matter if your car has hydraulic or electric steering, the system should ideally be checked every time you go in for service. These appointments examine hoses, connections and leaks. You’re also advised to mention any drifting, pulling or vibrations.

If you’re unsure about whether your car has a steering problem, look for the following signs.

Vibrations and Shaking

You’ll be able to feel this as you’re driving, either from the motion of the car itself or directly from the steering wheel. However, the steering system may not be acting alone or could be a conduit for an issue stemming from the brake rotors, pads or calipers. Vibrations may also signal an alignment issue that’s affecting your car on a greater level.

In these instances, pay attention to when you feel the most vibrations. At certain speeds, vibrations can indicate the wheels are poorly aligned. If you notice them only when the car is stopped, the brake system may be the source and vibrations that cause the whole car to shake may stem from the engine.

A Slipping Steering Wheel

If the steering wheel feels loose, can’t hold its position or moves to the left or right as you attempt to drive in a straight line, this factor increases your accident risks. With the steering system, this aspect can go back to a worn steering belt, tie rod or rack mount or a leaking pump. In all cases, the part needs to be replaced for the system to provide the desired level of resistance.

A Stiff Wheel

This concern affects both hydraulic and electric steering systems. The resistance or stiffness you notice may fully affect the steering wheel, exist only on one side or occur intermittently. This factor poses a challenge when you attempt to turn, as your car doesn’t appear to respond or requires more power to perform this maneuver.

Based on the design of your car’s steering system, a number of factors may be causing this issue:

  • The power steering system is malfunctioning, potentially as a result of low fluid levels, a defective pump or worn serpentine belt
  • A damaged motor, fuse or other source of power failure for electric power assist components
  • Uneven tire pressure
  • Friction created through the steering system by insufficient or poor-quality fluid, components sticking together or disintegrating seals
  • Air or debris in the power steering fluid
  • Insufficient system calibration
  • Issues with the suspension system

Power Steering Fluid Leaks

You may notice your car is leaking power steering fluid while parked. This can stem from damaged seals and O-rings or adding too much fluid.

Off-Center Steering Wheel

This can result from an accident or another issue affecting the alignment, suspension or steering system. Even hitting the curb as you attempt to parallel park can cause this problem.

The Steering Wheel Doesn’t Return

You can make turns successfully, but the steering wheel does not to return to its proper spot. It may gradually move back or you need to do so manually. This aspect can be related to a damaged steering system or components, an alignment issue or friction from insufficient fluid and lubrication. It can pose a safety hazard when you attempt to change lanes.

Pulling, Wandering or Drifting

This development stems from a combination of factors, including poor alignment, a damaged steering or suspension system, or changes in tire pressure. You’ll notice that your vehicle pulls to one side, even if you don’t move the steering wheel. This aspect is often accompanied by uneven tire wear.


You may notice a squealing, grinding, whining or screeching noise every time you attempt to make a turn. Specifically talking about the steering system, this issue can go back to a cracked or old power steering belt or pulley, low fluid levels or a worn or damaged steering gear.

Power Steering Fluid Issues

While changed less frequently than other fluids, the power steering fluid provides lubrication to ensure you can smoothly turn and drive your car. However, leaks can deplete the amount or poor quality due to moisture exposure or debris build up can mean a fluid flush is necessary.

Changing the power steering fluid often requires professional assistance. If you’re concerned about leaks, the appearance isn’t that different from transmission fluid. Both have a pink to reddish tint and a milky quality or darker hue can indicate it needs to be changed or flushed.
Have you been experiencing any steering issues? Bring your car into DaSilva’s Auto Body for a diagnostic assessment. Contact us to schedule an appointment.