The steering column is the mechanical part that is in charge of directing and steering your car. The car steering column is a device intended to steer your car and connect the steering wheel to the steering mechanism.
The steering wheel is the type of steering control in all cars, while the steering mechanism is the internal collection of components and linkages that allow you to follow the course you are driving. In some cases, after wear and tear, you might need to get a new steering column.
The steering column repair cost is an average of $400-$900, with the cost for a brand new steering column being only about $100 to $300.
The Steering System
As we now know, the steering system in each car made in modern factories today is mainly a rack and pinion steering system. This system is composed of various components containing universal joints, main shafts, intermediate shafts, and the steering rack.
This central unit is in charge of the steering direction and the signals from the driver. Without this steering box, the steering wheel would not move. This central unit receives inputs, using the steering wheel and the steering column to send a mechanical signal to the steering shafts to complete smooth, responsive, safe, and efficient turns in both directions.
Steering System Components
There are various components within your power steering system that makes it easier to turn the car and steer the vehicle accurately. The major power steering system components between the steering wheel and the gear generally include the wheel itself, steering column, steering coupler, power steering hoses, power steering pump, and steering gear.
The steering column is the main housing compartment that holds the steering wheel and the shaft in a secure and connected place. The steering coupler is located at the bottom of the shaft, allowing the steering wheel to rotate without getting bound up within the column.
The steering rack is the main focus of the steering system, showing the importance of a steering box in controlling your car. When the box wears out over time, shows damage, or completely breaks over a long time of use, the steering can be compromised and not work properly. If this happens during an inopportune time while you are driving, then this can be quite dangerous.
Since there are so many components, and since they are connected, a problem with one can lead to a bigger problem with another part. The connection of parts means that the steering column repair cost’s total price can be affected by damage to other components within the steering system.
When looking at the steering system components, you would find different kinds of systems in your car. Typically the power steering system is hydraulic, but you can also find electric power steering systems.
Hydraulic Power Steering
The main types of power steering systems commonly found in vehicles that affect the power steering column are hydraulic power steering, electric power hydraulic steering, and the fully electric power steering system. Each of these systems utilizes the steering column, affecting the overall power steering column repair cost.
The hydraulic power steering uses the hydraulic pressure supplied by an engine-driven pump to help in the movement of turning the steering wheel, so the motion is fluid and accurate in where you are going. The power steering pump is turned by the driver or the belt and provides steering fluid to the power steering hose.
Electric Power Hydraulic Steering
Electric power hydraulic steering is a combination of hydraulic and electric systems. The hydraulic pump gets energy from a motor instead of the belt-driven by a mechanical engine. In the electric power steering system, an electric motor replaces the hydraulic pump and the full-electric power steering system. The motor is attached to the steering rack or to the steering column.
Faulty Steering Column Symptoms
When you drive your car, you will notice some signs that your steering column is not working correctly and in need of replacement by taking heed of these warning symptoms. By noticing these signs, you will be able to determine just how much you will have to pay for the overall steering column repair cost.
A bad steering column is not something you should leave alone when you notice one of these signs since it can significantly impact your driving ability. Not to mention, this issue can put your passengers at risk, others on the road at risk, and cause further problems in the future that can be much more expensive and raise the overall steering column repair cost.
Uncentered Steering Wheel
The steering wheel’s first symptom needing repair is the steering wheel not being centered on your column and the car. When you turn the steering wheel, it is usually supposed to return to the center without having any problems.
The power steering system includes this ability to recenter the steering wheel, which is a key sign that there might be bad steering column symptoms. The wheel’s ability to go back to the center is blocked if the steering column is damaged and indicates a higher steering column repair cost.
Sounds from the Steering Column
If you hear noises when you turn the steering wheel in either direction, this signifies that the steering column is bad or damaged. These could be sounds like clicking, thumping, or clunking when you turn the wheel. The reason for this is damage to the internal components within the steering column. In most cases, the sounds will get louder as time goes on, causing a high steering column repair cost.
Most vehicles containing power steering have a tilt function that lets the driver in charge of the car alter the steering wheel’s angle. The power steering tilt function can help the driver position the wheel at the best angle to operate comfortably. If the steering tilt malfunction happens, then it is most likely due to a bad part of the steering column.
A faulty column means that the wheel does not stay in place, and the steering column repair cost could be higher than if the steering tilt was correctly positioned.
If your steering wheel is becoming more difficult to turn or feels like it is getting stuck, it shows an issue with the power steering system, since turning the wheel should be easy and smooth. This could mean faulty gears, gaskets, or an issue with the steering column repair cost.
Dirty Steering System
Just like regular and routine maintenance on your car, you need to have your steering system checked periodically according to your mechanic or the manual for your specific car. Since dirt and debris can regularly build up within your system, it could negatively impact your steering column and cause a sticky wheel turn.
If you want to determine if a dirty or debris-filled system is the reason, then you can have your steering column inspected to determine how much you will pay for the overall steering column repair cost.
Tight Steering Wheel
If you find that it is harder to turn the steering wheel, this can be due to a buildup of heat or a loss of hydraulic pressure, causing a tightness. Regardless of which reason, this is a problem that needs to be addressed and fixed, meaning you need to figure out the steering column repair cost or solution to the problem before it creates an unsafe driving situation.
Leaking Power Steering Fluid
Leaking power steering fluid can cause issues to your gearbox and cause tightness in the steering wheel. As noted, sometimes tight steering means low power steering fluid. However, since the steering box is hydraulically powered in most cases, the fluid levels will not get lower unless you have discovered a leak in the system of your steering mechanism.
Once you start to leak power steering fluid from your steering box, this means that there is a larger issue at play, a loose-fitting wheel or broken gasket, or another mechanical problem.
A damaged or failing gearbox is generally the result of a lack of proper lubrication, reducing smooth movement, and a lack of repairs or service. If you do not regularly check the service of the steering box, a grinding noise can creep up. The friction causes metal on metal contact, creating a loud grinding noise when you turn the steering wheel in either direction and reducing lubrication for smooth movement. Enhanced friction can cause a breakdown of parts and lead to a higher steering column repair cost.
Burning Oil Smell
The last symptom that affects the steering column repair cost is the smell of burning oil. As we know, the oil that can leak from the steering wheel and the box is pink or red and has a very strong and distinctive aroma. If the steering fluid itself is leaking, you will smell a strong aroma of burnt oil while the steering box is also very hot.
Rubbing Noise While Turning
The rubbing noise while turning your steering wheel can be due to various reasons – let’s go over some of the most prevalent reasons.
Shocks and struts are constructed to last a long period of time – however, if there are other faulty parts in your car or you have extreme wear and tear, then you may notice that the shocks and struts have worn down prematurely. If you hear the steering wheel make a rubbing noise while turning, this is a sign that these parts are going bad.
Another reason for rubbing noise is that the steering column has broken down over prolonged use. As you can imagine, this deterioration will cause a higher steering column repair cost. If the internal mechanisms rub too much against each other and generate excessive friction, it can lead to extremely high temperatures. These higher temperatures can enhance and speed up the breakdown of parts that leads to the loud noises and the steering issues.
Lastly, the final reason why the rubbing noise may happen in your car is due to damaged tie rod ends. Once a tie rod is loose, damaged, or worn down, the steering wheel will make loud and noticeable creaking sounds that can be audible to the driver and the passengers. If you notice damaged tie rod ends, this can cause the “steering wheel makes a rubbing noise while turning condition.”
Steering Column Repair Cost
In most cases, a steering column repair cost will depend on the mechanic you choose. You might want to shop around from other mechanics in your area to determine who can offer you the best price and who has the best reputation. It will also depend on the specific car you are driving, like the make, model, and year, since it varies based on the labor costs.
All makes and models will vary depending on the steering column design, which can affect how easy the labor of the repair will be. If various controls are in the way of the job or on the steering wheel, such as radio controls, cruise control, or audio control, the wiring could be more complex, leading to a higher steering column repair cost.
The overall price of a steering column replacement is going to average anywhere between $450 and $1400 for the mechanic to fix the issue.
Sample Steering Column Repair Costs
The least expensive fix is the Dodge Caravan, coming in at $675 for the average price of a steering column replacement cost. The second cheapest option on this list is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, which runs around $798 for the parts and labor. The next inexpensive is the Honda Accord, which costs just $2 more at $800 for the average replacement price.
The next option for the middle of the road prices is the Honda Civic and the Chrysler Town and Country, costing $850 and $950. The most expensive choice for the steering column replacement cost is the F150, coming in at $1,100.
As you can see, the steering column and steering system is a very important component of your vehicle. Without the steering system working properly, you would not be able to steer your car, leading to unsafe driving conditions. Finding out the average steering column repair cost can help you keep your car running safely and at a high-level.