You step out for a drive with your friends, and the goal is to have a good time. What happens when you have not got 100% control over your steering wheel? It gets risky, and you might run into another car. Imagine driving on a highway and having a non-response steering wheel. Some car owners can have problems with the steering wheel when it gets too loose.
A loose steering wheel is not dependable. When you invest in a car, you look for qualities like dependability and responsiveness. Speaking of the free steering wheel, it controls the wheels of your vehicle. The majority of the car owners have a query in their mind – How to tighten steering wheel play?
In this elaborate post, we will be covering the causes of excessive play, identifying the problems, and troubleshooting the problem on hand.
However, the focus would be on – how do we tighten the steering wheel play?
Before we answer this question, it is essential to understand what play in the steering wheel is.
Understanding the Concept of Excessive Play in the Steering Wheel
When a steering wheel has too much or excessive play, it means it is loose. Drivers get confused about the actual position of the car’s front wheels.
The trouble is that if the steering wheel moves one and a half-inch more, then the front wheels may refuse to move to the direction you want.
The steering wheel should be tight enough to control the wheels of your car. Excessive play in the steering wheel is referring to it being loose.
Now, we move on to the next part, which is – What are the causes of excessive play in the steering wheel?
Firstly, let an expert do a quick visual inspection of the steering wheel. In recent times, cars have two different types of steering wheels.
When it comes to SUV, trucks, and smaller cars, they use the ‘rack and pinion’ steering wheel. Large vehicles use a different type known as the ‘recirculating ball’ steering.
Considering these are machines, there will be problems. The components inside these two types of steering wheels may become worn out or can also fail. Do not be disheartened because problems can arise, but there is a fix for everything.
The Causes of Excessive Play
Worn out Pitman Arms
If the pitman’s arm is damaged, your steering wheel could become loose or have excessive play in it. Now, this is an essential component and acts as a link between the steering box and the rack.
The pitman’s arm goes in a circular motion, and that is how the wheel turns right and left. In case the pitman’s arm is damaged, then it causes a lot of havoc. Your car will not respond appropriately due to the damage.
Worn out/Damaged Tie Rods
The wheels/tires and the steering wheel are connected through the tie rods. Now, if these tie rods are worn out or damaged, then you will have problems with your steering wheel. You can find these tie rods in both rack and pinion and the recirculating steering wheels.
Your steering wheel becomes loose and has too much play due to the worn-out tie rods. Check the tie rod ends, whether they are worn out or not, as that causes most of the problems.
The joints in our body are as vital as the heart. The same goes for your car. The suspension component of your vehicle has a unique ball socket design. This is what connects the suspension system to the car’s steering wheel and tires. If the joint becomes worn out or fails, then the steering wheel may become loose or has too much play in it.
How to Tighten Steering Wheel Play?
How to tighten steering wheel play? There are some things you can do to fix the problem of the loose steering wheel. We have covered that in the next section. Please note that you have to inspect the car before you conclude. It is always advisable to never take out your vehicle to go on a long drive when the steering wheel is loose or has excessive play.
Easy 4 Steps Solution
First of all, meet a mechanic and tell them about the problem. If the steering wheel has excessive play, speak to the mechanic and get the car inspected. The vehicle should be on a flat surface. In case you wheel that the steering wheel and the front wheels are not functioning correctly, park the car and call the mechanic. Do not take the risk of driving that car to B point.
Nothing is more dangerous than having no control over your steering wheel. It can put you and other passenger’s life at risk. We have jotted down the best ways to troubleshoot the problem. Please take a good look at the ways to tighten the steering wheel.
For starters, the mechanic will do an elaborate visual inspection. He will raise the vehicle and remove the tires of your car. This gives him access to the steering wheel components. He will check the components whether they are worn out and need replacement.
If tie rods, pitman arms, and joints are damaged or worn out, the mechanic will replace these. It is advisable to replace the damaged parts. This ensures that the steering wheel will start functioning correctly.
Before replacement, the mechanic wants to be sure whether there is a problem or not. They will take the car out for a test drive. He will check whether the steering wheel is functioning smoothly or not. For a damaged/worn out pitman’s arm, the mechanic will replace it and take the car out for a drive again.
This pitman’s arm requires maintenance. Make sure your pitman arm is in the right place and is replaced before you take your car out for a long drive.
If the car’s tie rods are faulty and worn out, the mechanic shall replace it. Before that, he will check whether there is external damage or not. After the mechanic has installed the new tie rods, please ensure that it is well-lubricated. Every component requires maintenance.
If you want your car to function correctly, it is essential to take good care of it. Speak to the mechanic and fix a regular check of the vehicle. He will tell you what needs to be done.
The next thing a mechanic does is checks the ball joints. He will first remove the component (the control arms) to gain access to the ball joints. He will replace this with a new one and then test it.
Please make sure that you get the new parts lubricated time and again. Without proper lubrication, the ball joints or any other new component will start malfunctioning soon enough.
Once all the new components have been installed, the mechanic goes for a test drive. He checks whether the steering wheel is functioning correctly or not.
He will also ensure whether the steering wheel is tight or not. Do not take out the car for a happy drive with a loose steering wheel as that could put your life at high risk.
While we discuss specific causes and their solutions, there are some other reasons due to which the steering wheel has become loose. Please check for uneven wheel/tire wear and free steering gear. If it is the former, then the mechanic will fix the wheel alignment. If it is the latter, then they replace the mounting bushes.
In the case of loose tire wearing, the mechanic replaces or adjusts the bearing. Give the job to a mechanic as it is not much you can do.
We hope that you liked the ‘how to tighten steering wheel play’ post. If the answer is YES, share it with your friends and folks who would benefit from this article.
Never experiment and think that you can fix the problem on your own. Venturing out with a loose steering wheel could probably put an end to your life.
The driver should have full control over the vehicle. If they do not have full control, it means anything can go wrong, and the car may run into another vehicle.
It is also possible that you are driving in a mountain region, and the steering wheel will not function as per your actions. In this case, it is best to put a brake and park the car.
Hire the nearest mechanic and get the problem fixed. To be safe, get your car checked before venturing out. You should never take out your vehicle for long drives if the components are worn out or damaged.