3 Causes of a Steering Wheel That’s Hard to Turn (Especially at Low Speeds)

(Updated on November 7, 2019)

The most important component of a vehicle is its steering. Any issue in the steering system will lead to lethal consequences. It helps you steer the car. If it doesn’t work or gets slow or hard, things will get really hard. You might end up hitting a tree, a car, or someone on the road.

There are several issues related to car’s steering. One of the most common among them is steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds. This is the first symptom of a bad steering. It has to be fixed immediately so as to avoid major issues.

3 Reasons Your Steering Wheel is Hard to Turn

There are several reasons of steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds. The three most common causes are discussed below to help you get to the root cause.

1) Damaged Belt

One of the most common reasons of steering wheel getting hard to turn at low speeds is a broken or a damaged belt. The serpentine belt wears over time. It gets loose and that’s the point when the steering wheel starts getting a bit hard.

If left damaged, the belt breaks. The steering will cease to move as soon as the belt breaks. You have to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks. When the belt wears and gets lose, it must be replaced immediately or it will break anytime and the steering will not move once it breaks.

2) Low Power Steering Fluid

The power steering system needs oil to work smoothly. The purpose of power steering fluid is to keep the entire system working seamlessly without any resistance. It lubricates the power steering system.

Over time, the fluid gets thick and has to be replaced. If you haven’t replaced the fluid for ages, your power steering will feel very heavy at low speeds. Refer to your car’s manual to see when you have to replace the power steering fluid.

There are times when the power steering fluid level gets low. This makes the steering hard and is considered one of the main reasons. In fact, as soon as you feel the steering stiffen at low speeds, check the power steering fluid level. If it is low, top it off which should hopefully fix the issue.

But topping off the fluid will not solve a leakage. If the fluid level drops again, it means there is a leak somewhere. You have to find it and fix it. Check for loose hoses or cracks as a starting point.

3) Pump Failure

The power steering system has a pump which is responsible for generating the pressure. It keeps the steering smooth. A faulty power steering pump will make steering hard to turn. Normally, steering pumps do not fail completely rather they fail prematurely, so even a failed pump will not jam the steering. The idea is to check the pump and fix or replace it if it has failed.

If you have a steering wheel hard to turn at low speeds, you should get it fixed as soon as possible as driving your car with it can result in serious issues on the road.

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