Play in the steering wheel, often called a loose steering wheel, may be caused by loose ball joints, worn tie rod ends or a loose steering box. If those things check out, play in the steering wheel may be caused by worn C-bushings in the caster.Continue Reading
Sometimes, a physical inspection is all that is needed to find the cause of a loose steering wheel. Two people are needed to inspect the steering system and a thorough inspection can be made without having to lift the vehicle off the ground. In a well-tightened steering system, the wheel shouldn't move more than 1.5 inches before causing the front tires to move.
While one person moves the wheel, another should be looking at the steering components. The person making the inspection should tighten up anything that appears to be loose. A common cause of a loose steering wheel is a loose steering box. It should be firmly fastened to the frame, although looseness caused by everyday driving is common. The play-adjusting screw at the top of the steering box may be loose but should never be tightened more than one turn. Over-tightening may jam the sector shaft into the piston, causing considerable damage to the steering box.
Those lacking mechanical skill or proper tools should seek the help of a qualified mechanic.Learn more about Car Parts & Maintenance
Tie rod ends help direct the steering of a vehicle and make it possible to turn a tire. These devices exist in pairs on every tire. This allows for cornering and angling of the tire without causing too much torque on the wheel no matter how deep the turn.Full Answer >
Rack-and-pinion steering translates the rotational motion of the steering wheel into linear motion by using a round pinion gear at the end of the steering column and a toothed rack that connects to the tie rods to move the wheels to the left or right. A metal case encloses the rack-and-pinion mechanism.Full Answer >
Symptoms of bad ball joints on a car include noises coming from the front end when driving over rough surfaces or an inability to control the vehicle while steering, according to O'Reilly Auto Parts. The scraping and rattling noises and erratic steering get worse as the part deteriorates.Full Answer >
To determine the end of the side of the tie rod end that is bad, Know Your Parts says to grasp both ends by hand and push up and down. A pry bar should not be used for this inspection. Any free play indicates wear of the joint, a cause for replacement. It recommends against the use of any tools in testing, especially pry bars and water pump pliers.Full Answer >