5 Symptoms of a Bad Intermediate Steering Shaft and Replacement Cost

(Updated on August 17, 2021)

Every vehicle has something called an intermediate steering shaft in its steering system. The function of the intermediate steering shaft is to keep the steering gearbox and steering wheel connected.

There is a universal joint on one end of the intermediate steering shaft which connects to the steering gearbox and another universal joint on the other end which connects to the steering wheel.

These joints allow the angle in between these two features to be supported. As a result, your vehicle’s wheels can turn smoothly and easily.

Top 5 Bad Intermediate Steering Shaft Symptoms

It is important to have a properly working intermediate steering shaft at all times. If you were to have a faulty intermediate steering shaft, then it would not be safe to continue driving your vehicle. You could also be putting other people’s lives at risk as well.

Below are five of the most common symptoms of a bad intermediate steering shaft.

1) Strange Sounds

noise while driving

When the intermediate steering shaft starts going bad, one of the first symptoms that people usually notice is strange popping or clunking sounds coming from the steering wheel each time they turn it.

The sounds will start off small and mild, but will eventually become louder and more annoying if the problem is left untreated. Anytime you hear any strange sounds like this, you should take your car to the auto body shop to have it checked.

2) Turning Difficulty

no power steering

A more serious symptom of a bad intermediate steering shaft is having difficulty turning the steering wheel. One day you will go to make a turn around a corner and then you’ll experience sudden binding in the steering wheel as you’re turning it.

Because of this, you will be forced to put more strength into turning the wheel and this can be dangerous. If you need to put a lot of force into making basic turns, then it will slow down your reaction time as a driver and will likely cause an accident.

3) Corrosion on Bearings

steering shaft corroded bearings

Each intermediate steering shaft has a group of needle bearings. These bearings have greased stored in them which is sealed off. The grease allows the bearings to have a longer lifespan without the need to maintain them.

But as the intermediate steering shaft starts to go bad, corrosion will form on the outside after the grease inside dries out.

4) Steering Wheel Tilt is Loose

steering wheel tilt

Many modern cars have a tilt feature integrated into their steering wheels. This feature lets drivers adjust the angle of the steering wheel to make it more comfortable for them to operate. As the tilt is adjusted, it should be able to lock after you’ve chosen the desired angle.

However, if there is a bad intermediate steering shaft or column, then you won’t be able to lock the steering wheel at the angle you’ve chosen.

5) Steering Wheel Does Not Go Back to Middle

steering wheel off center

When you turn the steering wheel in a vehicle with power steering, the wheel will usually go back to the center afterward. This is considered to be a safety feature in every power steering system.

However, if the steering wheel fails to return to the center after you take your hands off it, then there could be a problem with the intermediate steering shaft or the steering column.

Intermediate Steering Shaft Replacement Cost

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intermediate steering shaft replacement cost

The cost to replace a bad intermediate steering shaft is would be anywhere between $200 and $350. The cost of the parts would be anywhere from $100 to $150, while the cost of the labor would be anywhere from $100 to $200.

If you want to replace the intermediate steering shaft on your own, it would save you about 50% of this cost, but it is better to have a professional handle the replacement job. That way, you know the job was done right.

10 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of a Bad Intermediate Steering Shaft and Replacement Cost”

  1. what about play in the steering wheel, I have about a 1/4 turn of play in my steering I turn the steering wheel and nothing below the intermediate bearing moves.

  2. I have a 2014 Kia soul that has a clunk or rubbing should over speed bumps, which can only be heard in the cabin of the car not outside. do you think this could be the issue?

    • A clunk sound and a rubbing sound are pretty different, and could indicate different problems. Are you hearing both?

      Check to make sure your wheel and tire size is correct, that the fender liner isn’t dragging against the wheel, and consider having the vehicle’s steering and suspension components inspected for peace of mind.

  3. I had issue number 2 in my 86 Celebrity and then as i was making a turn, the steering wheel totally quit and was spinning freely with no response from the wheels. Could this be the same issue?


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