What Does A Steering Knuckle Do?

Do you know what does a steering knuckle do? A steering knuckle is a component placed at the back of the front wheels of your vehicle. What happens when the steering knuckle breaks? Let’s find out.

A steering knuckle is an essential part of your vehicle’s steering system. It is placed behind the front wheels through a suspension system and wheel hub. But what does a steering knuckle do? 

Vehicles turn with ease with the help of a steering knuckle. It connects the brake and steering to your vehicle’s chassis and helps change directions with ease. 

The steering knuckle is also known as an upright or a wheel carrier and is the last component to be assembled in the steering system. One steering knuckle is connected to each wheel in the front. And while you turn the steering, it helps change the direction of your front wheels.

In this article, let us look at how a steering knuckle helps change directions and what to do if the steering knuckle is damaged.

What Does A Steering Knuckle Do

So, What Does A Steering Knuckle Do?

A steering knuckle is a component in the steering system that connects the tie rod and wheel. It is also attached to the suspension system’s lower and upper ball joints via ball joints or a pivot, and it helps keep the knuckle straight. 

The steering knuckle helps turn the front wheels and supports the vehicle’s weight when you turn your steering. So when you turn, the tie rod pulls the lateral arm inside or pushes it outside. This depends on the direction you turn. The tie rod is attached on both sides. So when the lateral arm is pulled inside from one side, it will be pushed outside simultaneously. 

What Happens If A Steering Knuckle Breaks?

If the steering knuckle breaks by chance, it may have many handling problems. Your vehicle may get pulled from one side, squeal when you turn, or the steering wheel may vibrate when you drive straight. 

Sometimes the ball joints and bushings attached to the steering knuckle may have a problem, and people don’t look at the steering knuckle when looking up at the cause of steering wheel failure. 

Usually, a steering knuckle is well built to last a long time. But if you hit your vehicle in a pothole or have even a little collision, the steering knuckle may get damaged. And if the knuckle breaks down, you won’t be able to drive your vehicle.

When the knuckle is slightly bent or cracked, you may feel like you can drive and won’t have any issues. But you should avoid driving as it can cause other issues like:

  • Your wheels are being moved out or misaligned if it gets hit by something. This will lead to uneven tire and handling issues.
  • The damaged part can further load the ball joints, and it can break anytime.

And if the ball joint gets damaged or breaks, the steering wheel may get loose, and it will become challenging to handle your vehicle. This is very risky. So if you find any problem with your steering knuckle, it is better to get it checked and repaired immediately. 


You might like to read: Why Is My Front Tire Leaning In


Causes Of Steering Wheel Damage

Deforming Of Knuckle

When you hit a pothole or curb while driving your vehicle, the wheel components, like a chassis, may get twisted and respond to the impact. Even a slight warping in the steering knuckle can misalign your vehicle’s parts and damage other steering parts and suspension systems prematurely.

Damage Due To Road Dirt And Debris

Your vehicle’s chassis is exposed to dirt, water, and other corrosive material on the road. It damages the edges of the knuckle. The components of the steering system are attached tightly to its mating surfaces. The tie rods and ball joints connected to the knuckle can experience play leading to premature failure.

Deformed Parts For Bushing

Mostly in old vehicles, the suspension sags over time, and bolts tend to seize in the inner part of the bushing. When you try to remove the bolt by drilling, torching or grinding, it damages the bushings present in the steering knuckle. 

Hard Braking

Braking helps stop your vehicle from moving quickly over any pothole or obstacle, resulting in torque on the knuckle. A high torque level while using brakes, along with a forceful impact, leads to knuckle failure.

What Does A Steering Knuckle Do

How Do I Know If There Is Any Problem With Steering Knuckle?

The steering knuckles are critical to the vehicle’s steering and suspension. If it breaks, you will find it difficult to control your vehicle while driving. It will tell you a few signs before your steering wheels get damaged completely. The sooner you find the issue with your vehicle, the better you will be able to solve the problem. 

  • The steering wheel is vibrating or shaking while driving straight.
  • Your steering is getting pulled from one side.
  • The tires have worn out unevenly.
  • The steering wheel is misaligned while driving.
  • A disturbing noise while taking a turn.


If you notice any warning signs above, get your vehicle to the mechanic to inspect it. If replacement of the knuckle is required, do it; otherwise, it can further damage the other parts and lead to an expensive replacement. The best way to determine if the knuckle is damaged is by visually inspecting the parts and looking at the other steering knuckle. 

How Do You Diagnose A Broken Steering Knuckle Yourself?

If you don’t want to take your vehicle to the mechanic for inspection, you can find the problem with your steering knuckle yourself. The best way to find out the issue is to physically check the steering knuckle of your vehicle. To do this, you need to:

  • Lift your vehicle using a lifting jack. Make sure to use a lifting tool that supports your vehicle. 
  • Now you need to remove both your wheels using tools.
  • Have a look at the steering knuckles on both sides and see if there is any crack, bends, or other issues.
  • If the knuckle is rusted, it is unsafe and needs to be replaced soon. 


You might like to read: Jeep Wrangler Noise When Turning Steering Wheel – What to Do?


A Few Final Words

With the help of a steering knuckle, vehicles turn with ease. But over time, like any other vehicle part, a steering knuckle may get damaged. And driving with a damaged steering knuckle is not safe at all. You need to replace the knuckle immediately.

Thank you for reading – we hope we answered the question that you came looking for.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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