Things to Know if Your Car's Steering Locks Up - Subaru Service Questions in Salt Lake City, UT

If the steering suddenly stops responding on your vehicle, you won't be able to control its direction. That will make your vehicle downright unsafe to drive! If you find your steering wheel is locked in place and won't turn, we've got four things you need to know listed below. If your car has a real problem with the steering system, the team in our service center at Nate Wade Subaru can help! We'll perform a quality repair using the best OEM parts designed to work best on your Subaru. Find out what can cause this problem below, and how to respond to it safely.

Right Front Tire Turned Outward

4. Steering Wheel Lock Function

Can't turn the steering wheel, nor turn the key in the ignition? Chances are you've engaged your vehicle's steering wheel lock. When the key is removed from the ignition, turning the steering wheel more than a few degrees will activate this lock. This prevents the wheel from being turned without the key in the ignition -- which can help deter car theft. However, if you activate the steering lock accidentally, such as when using the steering wheel to assist you in getting out of the vehicle, you might not realize what's happened. To release the lock, gently turn the steering wheel slightly and then turn the key. In at least one direction, a locked steering wheel should still provide a few degrees of movement.

Power Steering Rack

3. Power Steering System

Modern cars are heavy with robust steering systems that can be very difficult to turn without assistance. That's why virtually all modern cars feature power steering systems. If the power steering system stops working, you may find the steering wheel difficult or even impossible to turn. This could be caused by a power steering fluid leak, a bad power steering rack or other issues with the power steering system, such as a slipping belt on the power steering pulley.

2. Steering Linkage Problems

Turning your steering wheel changes the steering angle of the front wheels, but the linkage between the steering wheel and tires is complex. It goes a little something like this: The steering wheel is connected to the steering shaft. The steering shaft is connected to the pinion gear, which engages with the steering rack to transform the rotation of the steering wheel into lateral motion that turns your wheels. Tie rods are connected to the steering rack, which connect to steering arms, which connect to steering knuckles which connect to the wheels themselves. If any of these components suffer damage, you may find the whole steering system locks up! You'll need the help of a trained technician with access to special tools to take a closer look at your steering system.

Steering Control Arm Boot

1. Severe Front Axle Damage

After a major front-end collision, you may find the steering wheel on your car doesn't feel right. It may not feel connected or you may feel the steering wheel no longer controls the direction of the car. If that's the case, you'll need a tow to get safely to an authorized Subaru dealership service center.

Remember: if your car steering locks up suddenly, like while you drive, you should hold the steering wheel tightly and come to a stop safely and carefully. Then, get a tow to the Nate Wade Subaru service department. We'll be able to fix this problem. However, on modern cars that have been properly cared for, such a catastrophic failure is extremely unlikely.

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  1. Nate Wade Subaru

    1207 South Main
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111
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    • Sales: (888) 586-8323

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Nate Wade Subaru

1207 South Main St
Directions Salt Lake City, UT 84111

  • Sales: (801) 658-9379
  • Service: (801) 328-1327
  • Parts: (801) 328-0061