How To Tell If A Steering Gear Box Is Bad?

Have you ever faced issues related to the steering system in your vehicle? We know, they are extremely dangerous and need immediate fixation to avoid or prevent any mishap. However, all these problems can overcomed by proper maintenance and servicing of the vehicles. Here, in the article, we will discuss the steering gearbox, know how to tell if a steering gearbox is bad, its fixation, and certain other frequently asked questions. So, let’s begin with the topic.

What Does A Steering Gear Box Do?

The steering gearbox is an essential component of the steering system. It contains the gears that transmit the driver’s steering inputs to the steering linkage that turns the wheels. As a result, it multiplies the driver’s steering changes so that the front wheels have more motion as compared to the steering wheels.

How To Tell If A Steering Gear Box Is Bad?

The steering gearbox is regarded as the heart of the steering system. Whenever, it wears out, breaks, or faces any malfunctioning, the functionality of the steering wheel is compromised. And if this happens while driving then it is extremely dangerous and life-threatening.

Here, are a few major signs or symptoms that will alert you whenever such an uneven situation arises. These warning signs and symptoms of the failing or bad steering gearbox can save your money, time, and reduce the potential of any crash.

1. Very Tight Steering Wheel

Nowadays, the steering systems are supported by a power steering unit that uses hydraulic pressure to carry out their functions properly and carefully. Whenever you experience discomfort with the steering wheel or harder to turn than usual then there’s typically a chance of racked or failing gearbox.

It could be a result of the building up of more heat or a loss of hydraulic pressure from the power steering unit. However, such problems need inspection as they won’t go away without treatment. Thus, they must be solved as soon as possible by an ASE-certified professional mechanic.

2. Leaking Power Steering Fluid

After searching and analyzing the above issue, go for the second sign. As we know, sometimes tight steering is generally determined by the low power steering fluid. However, most of the steering boxes are hydraulically powered so the fluid level won’t decrease unless there is a leak or damage in the system.

Once the leakage of the steering fluid begins, then it means multiple things like a loose-fitting, broken gasket, or other mechanical issues that need fixation as soon as possible. If you fail to fix the damages required then the gearbox will develop extra heat and potentially breaks other components which would lead to a crash of the vehicle.

3. Grinding Noise When Steering

The most common reason for the failing or bad gearbox is the lack of regular servicing and maintenance of the vehicle. It also lacks proper lubrication which is essential for the smooth working of the steering system. As a result, it would generate excess heat causing the metal to metal contact thus, creating a loud and annoying grinding noise whenever you turn left or right.

You can easily notice or experience such sounds when you are turning or hit a bump at the same time, like when you drive into a driveway. Thus, at the moment you listen to such grinding noises, consult the professionals so they can soon diagnose and replace the steering gearbox if needed.

4. Burning Oil Smell

It is a pretty uncommon symptom observed in vehicles with failing steering gearbox. It is so because the power steering fluid itself has a smell of burning oil thus, it’s quite hard to distinguish and analyze the hot steering gearbox after all both smells the same.

However, if you succeeded in knowing the smell of a faulty gearbox then stop your vehicle immediately. And find a safe place to park your vehicle then call a mechanic as soon as possible. Also, we recommend you to not drive the vehicle in such cases, a sit may lead to fire and catastrophic damage.

5. Oil Foaming And Discoloration

Another symptom of a bad steering gearbox occurs during a regular maintenance inspection. In such cases, power steering fluid or oil is foaming, discolored or milky in color. And the extremely black fluid signifies the excessive heat buildup in the steering.

How Do You Check The Steering Box?

To check the steering gearbox, you simply need to raise the front of the car on ramps so that its weight remains on the front wheels. Apply the hand brake to prevent any mishap and put chocks behind the rear wheels. Also, set the front wheels pointing straight ahead and make a chalk mark on the rim of the steering wheel.

Can You Drive With A Bad Steering Shaft?

The purpose of the steering system is to turn the wheel of any vehicle smoothly. Thus, the bad or damaged steering gearbox would unable to fulfill the requirement and creates numerous driving issues. Hence, it is not at all safe to drive a vehicle that has a faulty steering gearbox.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Steering Gear Box?

It is a pretty expensive task to deal with. On average, the cost of replacing the steering gearbox ranges between $600 to $800. Labor prices are estimated between $150 to $180 while parts costs may lie within the range of $450 to $600.

However, all these prices may vary from place to place. And they also depend on the type and model of the vehicle.


We hope the information mentioned above help and guides all the readers in dealing with the issues they are facing. We also expect that by the end of the content you will find all the answers you were searching for and know how to tell if a steering gearbox is bad.

If your doubts or queries regarding the matter persist, please comment below in the comment section. And we will surely put an extra effort to answer all your questions as quickly as possible.