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Help! My Steering Wheel Has A Tendency To Lock Up! Why Does The Steering Wheel Lock Up? 

Help! My Steering Wheel Has A Tendency To Lock Up! Why Does The Steering Wheel Lock Up? 

If you’ve been searching for answers to the phrase: “steering wheel lock up while driving”, we have the “keys” that will unlock knowledge and understanding for you! 


Your vehicle’s steering wheel is one of the most vital parts of your ride. In fact, it’s a very common component in land vehicles such as buses, trucks, cars and the like. The steering wheel allows the driver to control the vehicle. So, it’s no wonder that drivers find it horrible and troublesome when the steering wheel locks while driving. As a result of the steering wheel locking up during driving, the driver won’t be able to drive the car. Once this happens, there is the risk of that driver getting into a serious accident or collision. So, obviously, it’s very dangerous to encounter a locked steering wheel. 

 

Why Does the Steering Wheel Lock Up? 

In general, car steering wheels lock as a safety feature on the car. For a driver to unlock his/her steering wheel, only the key needs to be inserted in the ignition. But there are times when there is some sort of faulty technical glitch, locking system issue or some other factor that prevents a driver from utilizing his/her steering wheel. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest causes of a steering wheel locking.  

Lock Assembly Issues 

Once the key assembly shows signs of failure, it can eventually lead to a locked steering wheel. Your faulty lock assembly will even lock the steering wheel without any prior notice. Your locked steering wheel further presents you with a tremendous danger when the car is running at rates of high speed. Additionally, if you decide to change the direction of the key, you run the risk of the key cylinder failing to follow the commands accurately.

 

Power Steering Pump Problems 

Lots of cars these days, are equipped with a pump that houses power steering.  The pump assists in smooth steering. There are also linkages and valves located in the pump that may be stuck due to road debris.  For an accurate diagnosis of this issue, you will need to call an auto professional to find out why your steering wheels locks, as you’re driving. Back in the day, vehicles didn’t include power steering as wheel locking was never a common occurrence. Instead of power steering, older cars were outfitted with arm muscles used to turn corners while driving. While power steering makes driving smoother and more comfortable, there is a possibility that the wheel can lock up should the steering pump experience some sort of blockage or jam. There are a few several signs that indicate your car’s power steering pump has some issues or defects. Some of the signs include: 

  1. You hear incoming noises from the hood of the car. 
  2. There’s a slow response or a delay from the steering wheel. 

 

Driving and Making Sharp Turns 

Another reason that your steering wheel is locking up is the driver making sharp turns and making those turns quite frequently.  If you make lots of sharp turns in a relatively short period of time, there stand a chance that your steering wheel will lock up. 

 

Steering Lock Bar

When your car’s engine is turned off, the steering lock bar will lock the car. It’s important to remember that a crack may begin to form, should there be a factory defect present- the crooked casting of a 

steering lock bar-is an example. This growing crack can be the root of your car’s steering wheel issues. Excessive sharp turns while driving will have more of a negative impact on your car’s transmission and hurt your engine too. This will eventually lead to a locked steering wheel. 

Bad Steering Column 

Your vehicle’s steering column connects the steering system of the car, to the steering wheel. Your steering column sits at the top of the steering system. When a driver leads the vehicle to the intended direction, your steering column is the component that assists with this action. When you have a faulty steering column, the car will be difficult to maneuver. You will experience a few lock-up issues with your steering wheel Additionally, you may also find it hard to drive your vehicle toward the intended direction. 

Issues with the ECU 

The Engine Control Unit (or ECU for short) is the fixed system in car’s electronics, that has the task of taking care of the basic activities of your car’s engine. The ECU also conducts and manages the steering lock mechanism. The ECU can have such problems such as sensory issues- thus causing the steering wheel to lock when you drive your vehicle. 

 

Engine Stalling 

Engine stalling is yet another reason that a driver may experience power steering failure. Some factors that produce engine stalling include:

  1. insufficient fuel delivery or pressure 
  2. bad or faulty crankshaft
  3. defective camshaft position sensors
  4. Bad mass airflow sensor 
  5. faulty engine coolant temperature switch or sensor 
  6. defective spark plugs
  7. faulty ignition wires or coil(s) 
  8. insufficient fuel delivery or pressure, and the like. 

 

Can A Steering Wheel Lock While Driving?

Although possible, having your vehicle’s steering wheel lock while you driving, is quite rare occurrence. While the vast majority of modern vehicles are equipped with some sort of automatic steering locking component, this component is meant to engage once the ignition is off, and the car is sitting in place. 

Is It Dangerous To Drive With A Loose Steering Wheel?

A loose steering wheel can equal trouble for a motorist, since there is difficulty in determining the precise position of the front wheels. With little to no control over your wheels while operating your car with a non-responsive steering system, you are entering into the realms of danger. You don’t want to ignore previous red flags and then be out and about, only to have your steering wheel lock and cause an accident. 

 

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Locked Steering Wheel?

Typically, the replacement cost of a steering column can range from $300 to about $1000, depending on parts, labor and the reason for replacement.  To replace just the steering column part by itself, will be about $100-$400, depending on parts and labor. Plan on the mechanic having your car for a few hours or even overnight. Why? Well he or she has to remove the entire steering column and replace it with the brand-new one. This is the heart of the replacement cost- the labor. Your replacement cost will also depend on the make and model of your vehicle. 

 

Can A Locksmith Unlock A Steering Wheel?

In a word yes. Some locksmiths state that a locked steering wheel cannot be released, by just turning the key in the ignition. Why? This is because the rack will break in the steering column and is also affixed to the ignition actuator rod. This rod engages the vehicle’s electrical ignition switch. So, to change the ignition lock, someone has to remove the steering wheel has to be removed. Your local locksmith may have training for this task and you may be able to have one come to your locaiotn. Prepare to pay a few hundred dollars for this process. 

 

What are Some Tips For Preventing Steering Wheel Locks? 

Check out some bullet points of advice for keeping a locked steering wheel from happening to you! 

  • Be sure that you get regular and timely auto checkups.
  • Don’t forget to check your power steering fluid level, ensuring there’s enough. If it gets low, then you will worsen your issue. 
  • Try to keep the sharp turns-while driving- to a minimum. 
  • Never allow any weird noises emitting from your hood, to go unchecked.  
  • Never pull on the steering wheel after you turn off the engine.
  • Take the time to clean your steering wheel column each time you clean your vehicle. 

There is Good News…

A driver never wants to deal with a locked steering wheel. It can be one of the most frustrating aspects of owing a car. And if you have ever encountered a locked steering wheel, then you know that it is never a fun or a convenient time to have that happen.  

But there is good news! Unlocking the steering wheel is often simple and easy. An auto professional may be your best bet. Unlocking your steering wheel mas be as easy as turning your ignition key. And then after that, the vehicle has power and your car’s wheel is unlocked. But for those more intricate repairs, there is someone who can help. Just take your car to a trusted auto professional and allow him or her to diagnose the issue. Once your auto professional is able to identify the cause, he or she can get to work with the repair. 

Seeking to Sell Your Car With the Steering Wheel Issues? 

Are you sick and tired of dealing with that old car that keeps you broke due to steering locking repairs? Sell that car to Cash Cars Buyer! We purchase all make and models, including cars that have locked steering wheels! You can also count on us for: 

  1. FREE online offers on your damaged car, 24 hours a day, seven days a week! 
  2. Payment on the spot! Once we buy your car, we pay you for it, right then and there! 
  3. Same-day pickup for many of our clients and more! 

Ready to get rid of that car with the locked steering wheel? Click here and allow us to turn that car into cash, FAST!