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Reasons for Truck Steering Issues

Like any other vehicle, a truck requires maintenance and an operator with a detailed eye and ear when unusual things occur. There are always indicators in any vehicle that there is a problem. Regarding the steering wheel column, it consists of many parts that have the potential to fail and cause problems during operation. The indicators involved vary from visual to audible signals, reflecting a different part issue. Some parts that make up the steering wheel system are the steering column, the steering rack, and the power steering pump, each of which shares responsibility with other parts to deliver optimal performance. Some indications are results of regular wear and tear and come with vehicle ownership. Things such as leaks can occur over time due to friction and excessive use, but things such as improper fluid levels are a clear reflection of improper upkeep. 

The main reasons for part failure within the steering system of a truck can be due to several causes, such as:

  • Contaminated fluid
  • Improper fluid levels
  • Broken belts
  • Damaged steering pump
  • Extensive use OR force

Each of these causes can negatively affect part performance and cause damage or complete termination, resulting in costly repairs. Contaminated fluid can cause fittings to lessen in material, clog the steering wheel system entirely, create increased friction, and cause pump damage as a result.

Improper fluid levels range from either too much or not enough fluid. Increased fluid amounts can cause the valves and seals to collapse due to pressure, and not enough fluid will result in a lack of ability for your truck to exert the allotted force needed to turn the vehicle.

Broken belts are caused by excessive stretching, fraying, corrosion, or breakage. Each of these origins will result in a failed steering system entirely.

A damaged steering pump is caused by unnecessary strain on the pump, which can cause failure prematurely. Although normal wear and wear are entirely normal, professionals recommend keeping an eye out on parts through routine maintenance. Expert technicians will know what to look for and share with the driver the signals that it is time for repair or replacement. That information makes the operator more knowledgeable and prevents unexpected failures in the future. Professional technicians also recommend practicing safe driving when operating trucks. Aggressive driving can create a strain on the entire system and cause damage to some or all components of the steering system.

Now that we have gone over many of the causes for part failure, we can unravel what parts make up the steering system. Your steering system is composed of several factors, and a technician will inspect them to determine if the steering system is in working condition.

When a steering system is on its way to failure, the driver may experience issues with the power steering pump, the steering rack, the steering coupler, the tie-rod ends, and the power steering hoses. The power steering pump releases pressure to the hydraulic fluid, which helps the operator to turn the truck. The power steering pump may whine or grind during operation, specifically during a turn. The driver may also experience tightness or slow response when turning the vehicle. Depending on the severity of the damage, the truck may also release a reddish-brown liquid under the vehicle, which signals there may be a crack in the pump. The steering rack permits the wheels to rotate from either side when the steering wheel is turned. Excessive noise, movement, or fluid leaks indicate an issue with the steering rack. If the rubber is cracked, there's a loose connection, or the seals have failed, either of these indications may occur. The steering coupler creates a guaranteed connection of movement between the steering wheel and the steering rack. This part is made of a rubber material that can lose its elasticity over time. A driver should pay attention to symptoms such as bind and locking, excessive vibration, difficulty steering, and issues with re-centering the steering wheel after turning as signals to have the steering coupler inspected. These issues can be caused by overload, corrosion, lack of lubricant, and no maintenance. The tie-rod ends are the component that connects the steering rack from the steering knuckle to the vehicle's suspension. Normal wear and tear causes a decline in performance and creates uneven tires, a misaligned front end, steering wheel vibration, and erratic clunking noises. The power steering hoses connect the steering pump to the steering rack to push the pressurized fluid and direct the steering rack back and forth. Cracking in the hose from internal wear can be the cause of failure as well as corrosion on the fittings. 

All of these failures result from either regular wear and tear or neglect. The steering rack, coupler, tie-rod ends, and power steering hoses must be monitored through routine maintenance. Regular maintenance allows the operator to catch minor issues before they stop operation completely. It is highly recommended to keep up on all fluid levels and monitor the performance of parts by using visual and audible senses.