5 Signs Your Car's Steering System Is Malfunctioning

A car's steering system is one of its most important components, as it's impossible to safely drive a vehicle without the ability to steer it. As is true with all automotive systems, steering systems occasionally malfunction. Here are five signs that a car's steering system isn't working right and should be repaired. If you notice any of these, bring your car to a mechanic.

You Hold the Steering Wheel at an Angle

When driving, a car's steering wheel should precisely correspond with the direction the vehicle is going. The best time to measure a steering wheel's accuracy isn't when turning right or left, but when going straight. As long as a car is driving straight ahead on a flat road, its steering wheel should be perfectly straight. Being cocked to one side or the other is a sign that the steering wheel isn't working right.

While you're driving on a straight and flat road, look down to see what position you're holding the steering wheel in. If you're holding the wheel to the right or left, your car's steering system is likely misaligned, and you've simply adapted to this misalignment.

While drivers are able to adapt to minor steering issues, any misalignment of the steering system ought to be fixed by a repair shop. Leaving a steering system misaligned will diminish the driving experience, decrease fuel efficiency and increase tire wear.

You Have Difficulty Turning the Steering Wheel

Modern cars are equipped with power steering systems, and cars that have failed power steering systems may not pass inspection.

The biggest sign of a failed power steering system is difficulty turning the steering wheel. If it's suddenly harder to turn your car's steering wheel, especially at low speeds, there's likely an issue either with the power steering pump or with something else in the system.

Any power steering issue should be fixed promptly. Not only will you likely have to get the problem addressed in order to pass inspection, but driving without power steering is dangerous. If you have to swerve to avoid an obstacle on the road, you need to be able to quickly turn the steering wheel. Without power steering, turning the wheel quickly can be difficult.

You Can Wiggle the Steering Wheel

If your steering wheel wiggles back and forth easily without turning the car, there may be a problem with the steering column itself. How much a steering wheel moves back and forth is referred to as "play." A properly working steering wheel should have very little play, if any at all. If your car's steering wheel has a lot of play, the issue should be promptly fixed because the car's steering isn't as accurate as it should be.

Your Car Makes Unusual Noises When Turning the Steering Wheel

If your car makes unusual noises when turning the steering wheel, there's likely a problem somewhere in the steering system. The issue could be with the power steering, or it could be with any other part of the steering system. A mechanic will be able to diagnose the issue after looking at and listening to your car.

You Notice Fluids Pooling Under Your Car

If you notice fluids pooling under your car, there's a leak in one of your car's systems. The steering system is one of the systems that may be leaking fluid. Other potential systems include the brake system, cooling system and windshield wiper system, as well as the engine itself. A qualified mechanic will be able to identify what fluid is leaking, which will indicate which system has a problem. If the fluid is power steering fluid, there's a leak somewhere in your car's power steering system that should be fixed.

If your car shows any of these signs, bring it to Valley Express Auto Repair to get its steering system serviced .