My Steering wheel gets Locked while Driving. What should I do?
When driving you need to consistently be in control and ready to react to whatever the roads may throw your way at a moment’s notice. One thing that you simply can’t afford to encounter is your steering wheel suddenly locking up while driving. To some drivers, this horrible scenario is all too real as their wheel became stiff and unresponsive while out on the roads and driving through traffic. While you hopefully never find yourself in this scenario, understanding how to get through it safely and knowing what to do will help keep you and the other drivers on the road as safe as possible. If your steering wheel locks up these are just a few things that you should do to stay in control of the situation.
Things to do if steering wheel locks up while driving
- Stay Calm and Take Control– In the event that you feel your steering wheel lock up while on the road, it’s important that you stay calm. Take the wheel and try turning it to the left and the right, one side will have a little more give than the other. Grab the wheel with your left hand and turn it to the direction with more give while also using your right hand to turn the key in your ignition until the key unsticks.
- Safely Pull Over to the Side of the Road– If possible; another option to consider is pulling over to the side of the road or off of the road entirely until you can unstick the steering wheel. As noted above, there will be a side that has more give when you try to turn the wheel, using the hazard lights with your vehicle and slowly merging over, you should be able to get to safety but it’s extremely important to be careful and safe as any situation without total control over the wheel is very dangerous.
Things to consider if steering wheel locks up before the vehicle starts
If your steering wheel is locked before starting your drive, there are a few culprits that could be causing the difficulties and oftentimes your key won’t turn and the car won’t start if the steering wheel is still locked. These are just a few things to consider if your wheel is sticking and locking on its’ own.
- Power Steering Pump– This pump helps you turn the steering wheel easily and in that pump is valves and linkage. If either of those get stuck it won’t be able to perform its’ job and turning the wheel will either be extremely difficult or not happening at all.
- Key Mechanism– Your steering wheel problems don’t always occur when the transmission is going and you’re driving. If you insert the key in the ignition and it doesn’t start or the wheel won’t even move, it’s likely that the key has worn out and needs to be replaced. You can also try jiggling the wheel to see if the steering column has gotten “caught” or stuck which can happen from time to time.
- Faulty Lock Pin– A lock pin that sticks or fails even after the key is inserted can lead to the car being able to turn on and run but with the steering wheel still locking up. This isn’t a common occurrence but can happen if you have a heavy keychain that weighs down often or simply if the part just fails but it’s always important to have your entire vehicle inspected during routine service appointments just to be sure.
Best thing to do is preventive maintenance
If your key doesn’t turn when placing it in the ignition, the wrong thing to do is to try and force it to turn to the point that it breaks, this will give you a much bigger headache to then deal with. The thought of experiencing a steering wheel lockup while driving isn’t a very exciting one and in the moment should it occur, it may be extremely hard to stay calm but by remembering to get to the side of the road and staying in control of the situation, you can not only ensure your safety but you will also help keep everyone around you safer as well. As always you can also do your best with preventative maintenance to keep every piece of your vehicle in good health and running properly like it should.