Besides the steering wheel being off-center but driving straight, drivers may also encounter other issues, such as the steering wheel feeling loose.
You may find it difficult to understand the exact position of the front wheels to make necessary adjustments while turning.
Since you can’t “sense” the situation well, you can make mistakes, causing you and your passengers in danger.
Thus, getting to know what makes the steering feel loose and what you need to do is important.
We’ll provide you with all the information you need right below. Let’s get started!
Steering Wheel Feels Loose – Why?
Faulty ball joints, pitman arms, and tire rods are the main cause of the loose-feeling steering issue. Plus, look at the tires, wheels, and brake system and have a proper fixation on eliminating other causes of the problem.
You may need to inspect the components thoroughly to ensure no problem persists.
Worn Ball Joints
Why does my steering feel loose? When you have this question, think of a worn-out ball joint as the answer.
The components link your vehicle’s control arms with the knuckles. Any looseness or shake to the left or right indicates something wrong with one or more ball joints.
The problem can lead to excessive vibrations or uneven tire wear. You may even hear the odd clunking noise, especially when driving over the bumps.
Worn Pitman Arm
My steering wheel feels loose – why? A broken pitman arm can be the source of your issue if you have a recirculating ball steering.
The pitman’s arm is in charge of the direct connection of the gear and the steering rack. When the part degrades or the teeth in gear are broken, it will fail to control the wheel.
Some symptoms of a worn-out pitman arm include excessive play, looseness, and a tendency to wander right and left when you try to control the car.
Worn Tire Rods
Tire rods are a part of the driving system known as rack and pinion. You can find the component at two ends of the rack, moving the wheels following the turning of the steering.
Since the tire rods work every time you move, wear and tear is inevitable. Plus, the pressure placed on them when you hit the potholes or pop the curbs makes them degrade even faster.
The worn-out tire rods lead to the loose feeling of the steering wheel, uneven tire wear, and the vehicle’s tendency to pull to one side.
Other Tire Problems
What happens when my steering wheel is loose? Another culprit to your problem may possibly be the tires. An old, worn, and deformed tire creates vibration while driving.
Replacing a new tire can solve the issue in this case.
Besides, substandard tire pressure also leads to the matter steering feeling loose. For example, too-hard inflation causes high pressure and reduces elasticity.
Inflating the correct amount of air is highly recommended.
There are different issues that happen to the wheels that create vibration. Unbalanced wheels are a case in point.
The uneven weight distribution generates an unbalanced force on the wheels. Especially when driving at high speed, you may feel it shakes more, and it isn’t easy to control the system.
Another common reason for the problem of the steering wheel feeling loose is the deviation of the wheel. When the wheel’s angle is not right, there will be a misalignment.
Depending on your driving style, you may face the problem more or less. Stay away from the potholes and maintain a stable speed to address the issue.
Plus, pay attention to the wheel lug nuts while driving. It can be loose and makes you feel unstable while going. Stop the car and tighten any suspected screws.
Bearings are the components connected to the assembly, keeping your car from friction and releasing weight.
When there’s not enough lubricant, and they don’t function properly, they affect the driveshaft, and there’s a high chance that the car steering wheel feels loose.
Suspension System Issues
If all of the possible reasons above are not the root of your problem – my steering feels loose, you may want to inspect the suspension system.
A light suspension can damage the grooves, struts, or other parts of the system. Thus, thoroughly inspecting any corrosion, loose connection, or shaft imbalance is highly recommended.
The last scenario happening is the steering wheel is very loose when you press the brake. It can be because of the unflattened brake disc.
During usage, the brake disc may experience worn, wavy, wrapped, or loose connection, thus, creating uneven friction. When you apply the brake, you can feel the shaking.
Especially when you drive fast, the vibration is more obvious. There will be a burning smell when you stop your vehicle. The solution here is to flatten the disc so you can eliminate the issue.
How To Fix When The Steering Wheel Feels Loose?
If steering wheel feels loose when turning, you can address this problem by checking these three components below.
Bring your vehicle to a professional service to inspect the ball joint. As it plays a vital role in the driving system, a replacement is likely needed to ensure you have full control of the system and enhance your safety.
Balancing and tightening your four wheels are what you should go for to avoid non-standard tire stiffness and system shakiness.
You can balance tires at home or drive your car to the auto shop so they can help you with the compression and alignment.
Keep an eye on your tripod and rubber feet as well. The worn parts may affect the chassis and give birth to vibration. According to the situation, the mechanic will suggest you repair or replace it.
What Happens If You Drive With A Loose Steering Wheel?
It’s definitely not smart to linger on the problem. Sooner or later, you’ll reach the point where you will lose control of the whole system.
You don’t want to imagine when you can’t manipulate the turning system and cause a terrible collision. Have certified mechanics troubleshoot the issue before it’s too late.
How Much Does The Repairing Cost?
Depending on what causes your problem, you will have different repairs at different prices.
For example, replacing tire rods can cost $150-$200, ball joints at $240-$330, and a new rack at $600-$1000.
There are many reasons for a loose control component. The most common ones are worn-out pitman arms, ball joints, and tire rods.
Remember, when your steering wheel feels loose, no matter what the root cause, you should not leave it unsolved. Address it as soon as possible to protect your vehicle and your own safety.