(Updated on July 29, 2020)
The steering column is connected to the suspension of a vehicle. More specifically, the steering column is the link between the steering wheel and the steering mechanism of a vehicle.
This means that when a driver turns the steering wheel with their hands, the steering column is transferring this torque power to the steering shaft and pinion. From there, the wheels are able to turn left or right based on the direction in which the driver turned the steering wheel.
Obviously, it would be a very bad thing if you lost the ability to control the steering because of a bad steering column. This would be something that you’d want to take care of immediately.
Top 5 Bad Steering Column Symptoms
A bad steering column is not something you should leave alone because it will impact your driving ability and risk the lives of you, your passengers, and others on the road. To recognize when you need to replace your steering column, below five of the most common signs that indicate when it has gone bad.
1) Steering Wheel Not Centered
When you turn a steering wheel, it is usually able to return to the center without any problems. The power steering system includes this ability in it.
But, this ability will be compromised if the steering column is blocked or damaged for whatever reason. The result will be a steering wheel that is more difficult to center.
2) Strange Sounds
Do you hear noises when you turn the steering wheel? These could be sounds like clicking, squeaking, or clunking when you turn. The reason for these sounds is due to bad internal components within the steering column.
In most cases, the sounds will start small and then gradually get louder and more frequent as time goes on.
3) Steering Wheel Tilt Malfunction
Most power steering vehicles have a steering tilt function which lets the driver change the angle of the steering wheel. This option is supposed to help the driver position the steering wheel more comfortably for them to operate.
If this steering tilt option malfunctions, it is likely due to a bad component of the steering column. The result will be a freely tilting steering wheel that does not lock in place.
4) Hard to Turn
It should be easy to turn the steering wheel. Power steering is designed to make turning a smooth and easy thing to do. But if you notice that the steering wheel is difficult to turn, steering column may be to blame. There could be faulty gaskets or gears within the steering column that are causing this to happen.
5) Dirty Steering System
You need to have your steering system checked periodically because dirt and debris will regularly build up within your system. If you let enough of this debris build up, then it will have a negative impact on your steering column.
To find out if this is the reason, you can have your steering column inspected to see if there is dirt there. If so, then that is definitely the reason for its malfunctioning behavior.
Steering Column Replacement Cost
The replacement cost of a steering column is anywhere from $400 to $900. The cost for the steering column part itself will only be about $100 if it is used or $300 if it is new. However, the labor is what will cost you the most money for replacing the steering column.
It will take more than a couple of hours for a mechanic to remove your old steering column and then replace it with the new one. For this reason, the labor will be anywhere from $200 to $600.
It all depends on the make and model of your vehicle and how complicated it is for the mechanic to access your steering column.