3 Reasons the Steering Locks Up On Your Subaru - Service Questions in Salem, OR

3 Reasons the Steering Locks Up On Your Car | Capital Ideas from Capitol Subaru of Salem

A locked steering wheel can be a seriously frustrating occurrence. After all, what good is a car that you can't steer? It's certainly not safe to drive on the roads. There are two common causes of a locked steering wheel. One is a total power steering system failure, which will need to be repaired by an expert. The other is a system that's working as intended, but can be difficult and unintuitive to unlock on your own. You'll find more information about both causes below -- as well as tips on what to do in the unlikely event that the steering on your car locks up while the car is in motion.

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#1: When your Steering Becomes Difficult, But Not Impossible

Most modern cars are equipped with a power steering system. This system reduces the force necessary to turn the steering wheel, particularly at low speeds. If a failure occurs in the power steering system, you may find that your car becomes very difficult to turn. You may also notice that the car is easy to turn in one direction, but it's binding up when turning the opposite direction. Or, if steering is very difficult shortly after starting the car, but it becomes easier as the car warms up, that's another sign of a power steering problem.

Possible causes of your power steering problem include a leak in the system causing low power steering fluid, burned power steering fluid, a bad steering rack or a bad power steering pump.

#2: When your Steering Wheel is Locked After Starting the Vehicle

As a security measure, your car's steering wheel will lock when you turn the wheel with the key removed from the ignition. You may find that your steering wheel won't turn, and the ignition key can't be turned either. In this case, everything about your car is working as intended -- it's just a matter of knowing what's happened, and how to fix it.

If you go to start your car in the morning and the key won't turn and the steering wheel is locked, here's what to do. First, wiggle the steering wheel a bit. You'll notice it's utterly impossible to move in one direction, but it has a little bit of "give" allowing you to turn it slightly in one direction. Place your foot on the brake and turn the wheel in the direction in which it has a little range of motion. This should ease the tension on the steering column and allow you to turn the key. Turning the key will also unlock the steering wheel, and you'll be good to go!

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#3: When your Steering Locks Suddenly as you Drive

This is an extremely rare occurrence. But, as a precaution, it's a good idea to know what to do if your steering locks suddenly while the car is in motion. Either due to a major steering rack failure, suspension failure or steering column failure, the steering could potentially lock up as you drive down the road. If this happens, your goal is to stop as safely as possible, as quickly as possible. Keep two hands firmly on the steering wheel, and engage the brakes as soon as it's safe to do so. Continue to try to turn the wheel -- even with a sudden power steering failure, the wheel should turn slightly with enough effort. If you can, maneuver the car to the side of the road where it's safe to call for assistance.

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Capitol Subaru of Salem

920 Auto Group Ave NE
Directions Salem, OR 97301

  • Sales: 503-587-5500
  • Service: 503-587-5500
  • Parts: 503-587-5500
  1. Capitol Subaru

    3235 Cherry Ave Ne
    Salem, OR 97301

    • Sales: (888) 698-1973

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