When you turn your steering wheel to move your car to the left or right, you probably don’t realize how many different parts are working together to make this possible. Both your steering system and your suspension system must collaborate to make it possible for you to maneuver your vehicle. And a steering knuckle plays a very important role in this process, as it’s one of the components of your car that connects your steering and suspension systems.
You likely won’t ever have to worry about your steering knuckle giving out on you. It’s a part that’s designed to last for a long time. But you should be aware of what it does and know how to tell when it may have gone bad on you. Learn all about steering knuckles below and look out for any signs that might indicate that you have a steering knuckle on its last legs.
What Is a Steering Knuckle, and What Does It Do?
Despite what you might think when you hear its name, a steering knuckle is not connected directly to the steering wheel in a car. In fact, it’s one of the components of your car’s steering system that’s situated farthest from the steering wheel. But it does play a large part in your ability to control which direction your car drives in by maintaining connections with your suspension and steering systems.
A steering knuckle houses both a wheel hub and a wheel bearing. The hub is either bolted directly to the steering knuckle or pressed into it. There are then ball joints that connect the control arms from your car’s suspension system to a steering knuckle as well as tie rods that connect your car’s steering system to a steering knuckle. When you turn your steering wheel, all of these different parts move in unison so that you’re able to control your car and turn it left or right.
A steering knuckle itself doesn’t move around a whole lot while you’re driving down the street. But it does make it possible for all of the parts that we just mentioned to move around accordingly based on which way you turn your steering wheel. It’s why you need to make sure that your steering knuckle is always in good condition.
How Long Should a Steering Knuckle Last?
As we alluded to a few moments ago, you aren’t going to have to be too concerned about one of the steering knuckles in your car giving out on you. Generally speaking, a steering knuckle should last the lifetime of your vehicle. You’re more likely to experience problems with all of the parts that connect to a steering knuckle as opposed to the steering knuckle itself.
With that being said, a steering knuckle isn’t immortal. It could very well sustain damage if you’re ever involved in an accident or if you ever drive your car over a big pothole. It could also sustain damage if you don’t make the right repairs to all of the other parts that are connected to it. So you should make sure that the symptoms of a bad steering knuckle are on your radar, just in case!
What Are the Signs of a Bad Steering Knuckle?
If a steering knuckle in your car ever goes bad, it’s not going to be too difficult to tell. Every time you go to turn your car to the left or right, your car is going to let you know that there is a problem with a steering knuckle in most cases. You’re going to see some things that you wouldn’t see otherwise when you need to replace a steering knuckle. Here are some of the most common signs of a bad steering knuckle.
1. Your Tires Are Extremely Worn Down on the Inside and Outside Edges
When you have a bad steering knuckle in your car, it’s going to mess with your alignment. You’re not going to be able to drive your car down the street in a straight line without it pulling to one side or the other. This is eventually going to take a huge toll on your tires.
Every now and then, you should sneak a peek at your tires to see what kind of shape they’re in. If you ever see that they’re wearing down way faster than they should on the inside and outside edges, it’ll be a pretty clear-cut sign that you have a bad steering knuckle on your hands. Replacing it might be the only way to get your car back into alignment again.
2. Your Vehicle Pulls to One Side of the Road While Driving
When you have your car’s steering wheel centered, it should result in your car driving straight. If it pulls to one side of the road, it often means that your alignment is all out of whack. And while this might simply mean that you need to get your car aligned, it might also suggest that you have a bad steering knuckle.
When you first notice your car’s alignment issues, you should attempt to get your car aligned to fix them. But if that doesn’t do the trick, you should also ask your mechanic to take a look at your steering knuckles. If there are any issues with them, they could be messing with your alignment and throwing it all off.
3. Your Vehicle Makes a Loud Squealing Sound When You Turn It
When you move your steering wheel to turn your car, the last thing that you want to hear is your car responding by making any sounds. You don’t want to hear your car sound like something is cracking or snapping since this is often an indication that there’s something wrong with your suspension and/or steering system.
You also don’t want to hear your car making a loud squealing sound when you turn your car. This is usually going to let you know that you have a problem with a steering knuckle. You might be able to continue driving your car for the time being. But you should have it checked out to see if a bad steering knuckle might be to blame for the sounds you’re hearing.
4. Your Steering Wheel Shakes a Lot When You’re Driving
If your steering wheel ever starts to shake when you’re driving your car, this might mean that you have a problem with your braking system. Your brake pads, brake rotors, or brake calipers might be going bad on you and causing your car to shake excessively. But you should also consider the possibility that a bad steering knuckle might be causing your steering wheel to shake.
You shouldn’t automatically assume that a shaking steering wheel is being caused by a bad steering knuckle. You’ll more than likely need a mechanic to take your car out for a spin so that they can diagnose exactly why your steering wheel is shaking all of a sudden. But all signs could end up pointing to a bad steering knuckle being the culprit for your steering wheel issues.
Is It Safe to Drive With a Bad Steering Knuckle?
If you’re experiencing problems with one of the components that is connected to a steering knuckle, you might be OK to continue driving your car. Even if you have bad control arms or tie rods in your vehicle, it’s probably not going to prevent you from driving it, though you should strongly consider having them replaced.
However, when a steering knuckle goes bad in your car, it’s often going to be damaged beyond repair. And you’re not going to have any choice but to replace it so that you can continue to drive your car safely. You’re going to wear your tires down very quickly and make your car’s alignment even worse than it already is when you have a bad steering knuckle.
You might be able to get away with driving a car with a bad steering knuckle for a very short period of time. But you should try to get it to a mechanic right away so that they can assess the damage that has been done. They’ll be able to replace your steering knuckle and send you on your way in no time at all.
How Can You Replace a Steering Knuckle?
You should not, under any circumstances, try to remove and replace a steering knuckle on your own if you don’t know exactly how to do it. It can be challenging accessing a steering knuckle, and it can also be difficult disconnecting a bad steering knuckle from all the parts that it’s connected to within your car.
You should drive your car down to your mechanic to have them replace a bad steering knuckle. They’ll typically follow this series of steps to remove a bad steering knuckle and replace it with a new one:
- Elevate and support the front end of your car with a jack
- Loosen the lug nuts on a wheel and remove the wheel for your car
- Take off the brake calipers, brake pads, and brake rotors
- Avoid putting any tension on the brake lines in your car
- Remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle in your car
- Take the steering knuckle out of the strut assembly in your car
- Put a new steering knuckle into place and put everything that we just mentioned back together in your car
The process of removing a bad steering knuckle from your car and replacing it with a new one isn’t necessarily as time-consuming as it might seem. But if you make one small mistake, it could come back to bite you later on. It’s why you should leave the steering knuckle replacement process up to a professional who knows exactly what they’re doing.
How Much Does Steering Knuckle Replacement Cost?
It’s a good thing that the steering knuckles in cars don’t go bad very often, because replacing one is not going to be cheap if you ever have to do it. You’re usually going to have to prepare to pay quite a bit of money to replace a bad steering knuckle.
On average, people tend to pay upwards of $800 to put a new steering knuckle into place in their cars. This price will include about $600 for parts and right around $200 for labor. There might also be some additional fees that end up getting tacked on.
There is also a chance that you could be looking at replacing some or even all of the parts that surround a bad steering knuckle. If your steering knuckle was damaged, you might have also sustained some damage to the control arms and tie rods connected to it. And replacing them could drive the cost of steering knuckle replacement up and make you wonder if it’s even worth it.
It’s obviously not a good idea to drive around with a bad steering knuckle in your car. So if you discover that you need a new steering knuckle in an old car, you might want to kick around the idea of selling your car rather than replacing your steering knuckle and any other parts that surround it.
Is Selling a Car With a Bad Steering Knuckle a Possibility?
You might not think that anyone would want to buy a car with a bad steering knuckle. But you would be wrong! The reality is that a company like Cash Cars Buyer will happily purchase your old car from you and pay you cash for it when you decide not to replace a bad steering knuckle.
Are you interested in doing this? All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to get it done:
- Set us up with some basic information about your car, including the year it was, the make and model of it, and the miles that you’ve put on the odometer
- Give us a short period of time to prepare an offer for you
- Let us know whether or not you want to accept our offer
- Sit back and allow us to come and pick up your car at your home or business and leave you with cash for it
It literally couldn’t be any easier to sell a car with a bad steering knuckle! Contact us today to discover more about how our process works so that you can unload your vehicle right away.