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How to Fix a Loose Steering Wheel

Steering Wheel Feels Loose

The steering wheel feels loose while you drive the car at a higher speed. Several reasons can cause the steering wheel to feel loose or sloppy. If you feel that your steering wheel is loose and sloppy especially at higher speed, then it is an indication of one or more faulty front-end components. But, usually, the most common reason is overinflated front tires.

The reason why the steering wheel feels loose

(1) Over-inflated tires.
(2)Faulty front-end components.

Car troubleshooting

The problem often happens when front tires were overinflated, the tire has a tendency to bounce around while the car is being driven especially when driven at higher speed, the bouncing effect is transmitted to the steering wheel linkage and resulted to loose or sloppy steering wheel feeling which you feel.

Now, here's what you do to verify that it is indeed a case of an over-inflated tire, using a tire pressure gauge check the tire pressure of each front tire and compare it to what is recommended for your car (refer to the vehicle's owner's manual if you are unsure of the correct pressure). The standard tire pressure value or the recommended tire pressure limit by the car manufacturer is found on your car owner’s manual, you may also find the standard tire pressure on the label located usually on the driver side door of your car. If the tire pressure reading is significantly higher than what is recommended, then the reason why your steering wheel feels loose is over-inflated tires.

Steering Wheel Feels Loose

How to Check Tire Air Pressure
The tire tread life will be reduced if the tire air pressure of your car is below the car manufacturer's tire air pressure specified on your car owner’s manual.
Learn more: How to Check Tire Air Pressure

Steering Wheel Feels Loose

Tires that are overinflated don't "hug" the road well. As a result, they have a tendency to sort of "bounce around" as the vehicle is being driven. Further, the faster the vehicle moves, the more the tires "bounce". This bouncing effect is transmitted to the steering linkage and, hence, results in loose and sloppy steering.

What to do?
Let some air out of each front tire. Refer to your car owner's manual for the correct tire pressure. Doing this should improve the steering problem. But, if it doesn't, then the reason probably lies with one or more loose or worn front-end components.

Steering Wheel Feels Loose

If the tire is within the reommended pressure, then the problem is not an over-inflated tire and it could be one or more loose or worn front-end components.

Since "overinflated front tires" was ruled out, the only other possibility is something involving your car's "front end". Now... you may be asking, "What exactly is the front end?" Well, very loosely, it's all those bars, rods, levers, and other gizmos underneath the front part of a vehicle. Specifically, we are referring to such front-end components as the tie rod ends, ball joints, and control arms. These parts all contribute to a vehicle's handling performance and are critical towards achieving "tight" steering. If any are loose or worn, the steering will be loose/sloppy.

Usually, a problem on the front end is loose or worn-out components like the tire rods, ball joints, or the control arm. If one of those parts is loose or worn out it can cause the steering wheel to become sloppy or feels loose.

Steering Wheel Feels Loose

What to do?
Have a mechanic inspect the front end of your car and make any necessary repairs. Please take care of this problem very soon. Why? Because the loose steering wheel means the handling is poor and this spells "hazard". Find a garage that is approved by the AAA. Such garages tend to be reputable and, best of all, if you do have a dispute after the work is done, the AAA has the policy to investigate the situation and resolve it.

Power Steering Intermittently Stiff
In the case of heavy steering, the following phenomena should be considered. These are the cases that the steering is heavy throughout the operation, this means the power steering does not function at all, the steering becomes suddenly heavy when fully turned which means the belt slip.

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