Why is my steering wheel hard to turn when cold sets in during the winter months? In most cases, the answer is that the power steering fluid has frozen over or become thicker, which is making it difficult for you to turn the wheel. But if this isn’t the case, read on for more causes.
The steering wheel could get hard to turn in cold weather due to various problems. The power steering system controls the steering of the wheel. To solve the problem, it would be best to start checking each part of the system one by one to find the main culprit. Start with the steering fluid and review each of the factors discussed in the article.
The article provides a detailed guide to fixing your steering wheel, whether it is cold or hot outside.
Power Steering System
In simple words, Power Steering Systems convert the small mechanical force that you give to your steering wheel to the immense pressure that moves the front wheels.
The Power Steering system converts a small force into a large one and results in tiny movements that you make in the steering wheel with accuracy.
For such force multiplication, the power steering system needs different mechanical parts and electrical and hydraulic systems integration. The working of the power steering system is twofold: hydraulic mechanism and electric mechanism.
The principle of the hydraulic power steering system is fluid pressure, and it uses a hydraulic pump that converts the slight push to a more significant push.
The electric part of the steering system uses electric power from your car’s battery to assist the hydraulic system. It uses several sensors that detect slight changes in the direction of the steering wheel that reflects in the wheels.
The entire system consists of various parts such as a rack, serpentine belt, steering liquid and many others. A defect in any of these poses serious harm to the system, and may have difficulty turning the steering wheel.
You might also like to read: Why Does Honda Accord Power Steering Pump Make Noise When Cold
What Causes Steering Wheel Hard To Turn In Cold?
Power Steering Fluid
Power Steering fluid is the magical fluid that makes the power steering system efficient. The fluid has two main functions in the power steering system. One is to transfer the force applied to the steering wheel to the front wheels utilizing hydraulic pressure.
The other function of the fluid is the lubrication of the hydraulic pump parts and other parts through which it flows. Power steering fluid increases the life of these parts by protecting them from corrosion.
A low level of power steering fluid will result in the inefficient working of the power steering system. You will have to apply a much larger force on your steering wheel to move your car’s front wheels, and a lack of lubrication will stiffen the steering system.
In winters, especially if the weather is freezing outside or it has recently snowed, the power steering fluid could thicken and lose its fluidity. When this happens, it will not be able to work the hydraulic system properly.
Thankfully, you could quickly fix both these problems by replacing the steering fluid in the steering fluid tank. But it would help if you did a thorough check-up to detect and fix any leakage in the hydraulic system. Leakage in pressure pipes is often the reason behind low power steering fluid levels.
Thick Power Steering Fluid
As mentioned earlier, power steering fluid is essential for the proper functioning of the whole system. The consistency of the power steering fluid is as important as its amount.
The only reason for power steering fluid to become thicker is not cold. Suppose you see that your car’s power steering fluid level is adequate and there isn’t any detectable leak in the system. Yet your steering wheel is not moving as smoothly as it should; check the consistency of the fluid. It might have thickened, accumulating dirt particles and grease.
To avoid the thickening of the steering fluid, you need to change the fluid at regular intervals. You need to drain the entire thick fluid and replace it with the new one to fix the current problem.
Defect In The Steering Pump
The power steering pump is one of the main parts of the power steering system. A power steering pump maintains the overall fluid pressure in your car’s hydraulic system, contributing to generating power. In simple words, the hydraulic pump converts the small force that you give into a more significant energy to turn the four wheels of your car and navigate it properly.
A pump can fail for various reasons, such as inadequate steering fluid or a problem in the supply of power to the pump. A failed pump would cause significant difficulty when taking a turn and will often make irritating noise while turning your car.
The only solution to the problem is changing the pump, but it would help if you detect the culprit that caused pump failure.
At the same time, pumps have a self-life to run thousands of miles, so they can grow old and die out eventually.
Defect In The Steering Rack
The steering rack is another essential part of the power steering system. It is attached to the steering wheel through various joints, which facilitate the turning of the wheels in the direction of the steering wheel.
After driving for years, these parts wear and tear, resulting in difficulty turning the steering rack.
The rack problem is visible in the cold. You will have difficulty moving the steering at the start. Still, the steering will eventually become smooth once the engine starts heating and letting the lubricating agents ease the steering wheel.
You could only solve the problem by replacing the entire steering rack.
You might also like to read: Vibration In Steering Wheel When Turning Right
Defect In The Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt can get loosened and worn out due to overuse. The problem is mainly seen in old cars where the belt had broken and cracked in various places.
A broken serpentine belt results in tightening of the steering wheel.
In this case, you should change the serpentine belt to fix the steering wheel problem and avoid any other dysfunctions in the engine.
Bad Tire Pressure
Inadequate tire pressure or under the distribution of tension in the four tires results in disrupted alignment of the car’s wheels. Insufficient tire pressure may cause stiff steering problems, which You could fix by adjusting the tire pressures.
Other Common Steering Wheel Problems
Power Steering Not Working When Cold
The power steering wheel is controlled by many parts such as the rack, serpentine belt, fluid etc., following the given guide to fix your steering wheel.
Steering wheel hard to turn when Cold.
It is probably, the rack and pinion system causing the problem. Check these parts to detect the problem.
Steering wheel stick slightly when turning.
If your steering wheel sticks when turning, you probably have a defective steering rack, and it is advised to check the steering fluid level and the frame.
Why BMW Steering Wheel is stiff?
A stiff steering wheel in BMW or any car could be due to various reasons. The most common cause is inadequate steering fluid.
A Few Final Words
The power steering system controls the working of the steering. Any defect in these parts could cause the steering wheel to malfunction. Check each of the parts discussed in the article to solve the problem at hand.
Thank you for reading the article, we hope it covered the problem that your car is facing .If you still have doubts, we request you to drop a comment detailing the problem and we will help you resolve it.