Why Does Steering Wheel Lock Up While Driving? [5 Fixes]

Why Does Steering Wheel Lock Up While Driving? [5 Fixes]

Steering wheel locked up while driving could be the most dangerous thing you could experience while driving. Several accidents occur every year due to the locking up of the steering wheel. If you are facing issues like cracking noises while turning, hard steering, ignition key problems, etc you should get your car checked immediately. In this article, we are going to discuss all the problems related to the locking up of the steering wheel and look for its solutions.

Mechanism Of The Steering Lock

When the key is not inserted into the ignition, any movement in the steering wheel would engage a spring-loaded lever and locks the steering. The steering wheel lock is an important function for your car’s safety and prevents it from theft and damage when idle. You should never try to move the steering wheel forcefully when the key is not inserted into the ignition as this could damage the steering system.

Fix Steering Wheel Lock Up While Driving

There might be a number of reasons why your steering wheel has locked up while driving. We are going to look just after that and help you fix it.

1. Check The Key Ignition System

As mentioned earlier, the lock of the steering is engaged only when the key is out of the ignition. But, due to some problems in the key ignition system, the steering lock could be engaged unexpectedly and lock the steering while driving.

How To Fix It?

You can identify if there is any problem with the ignition assembly if you find that you have to apply too much pressure to the key to start the ignition. This could happen due to the rusting of the key assembly. Replacing or repairing the key assembly would fix the problem.

2. Check The Power Steering Pump

The power steering pump allows you to turn the steering wheel easily. Any damage to the valves inside the pump could give you a feeling that the steering wheel is locked, but instead, the real problem could be hard steering. But sometimes, the steering pump could actually be locked after making multiple sharp turns abruptly.

How To Fix It?

Fixing the power steering pump would fix the problem. You could identify a faulty steering pump when you find that the steering of the wheel has become hard or you hear squeaky noises while turning.

3. Check The Steering Lock Bar

When the ignition of the car is OFF, the steering lock bar is engaged. If there is any fault in the steering lock bar, this would make it difficult to unlock the steering even when the ignition is turned ON. This could also lead to steering wheel lock up while driving.

How To Fix It?

This problem is mostly a factory defect. You should take your car to the car manufacture company and tell them about the problem. Check the video below for some information.

4. Check The Ignition Cylinder

If there is any debris caught in the ignition cylinder, this would make it difficult for you to unlock the steering. A faulty ignition cylinder would not allow the key to allow the pins in the system to connect to the various components of the system.

How To Fix It?

You can try to fix the cylinder yourself by spraying canned air into the hole of the ignition to remove any debris caught inside it. If this does not fix the problem, better take it to the mechanic.

5. Check The Engine Control Unit (ECU)

An ECU is like the heart of the car. It links the electric steering of the vehicle to other components. Sometimes, it may happen that the ECU stops sending power to the Electronic Power Steering System. The ECU may face a sensor problem that may cause a steering wheel lock up while driving.

How To Fix It?

An ECU consists of various complicated circuits and programs and should be handled by a professional only. If your engine is damaged, your car gives you various signs like engine light staying on, unexpected power loss, starting problems, etc. If you observe any of these signs, call up a mechanic and tell him about the problem.

Precautions To Avoid Steering Wheel Lock Up

Here are some of the precautions to be taken to avoid steering wheel locking up:

1. Avoid Making Sharp Turns

Do not make sharp turns and if the road has too many sharp turns, drive slowly. Frequent sharp turns may damage the transmission system of your car and may also cause your power steering pump to get locked up. This may in turn cause steering wheel lock up while turning.

2. Lubricate The Power Steering

If you find that your steering wheel has become hard, lubricate the power steering wheel to avoid further complications.

3. Service Your Car Regularly

Servicing your car regularly maintains its health and all the components of the car remain lubricated and smooth. Servicing the car also helps you find out minor problems which if fixed immediately avoids wastage of time and money.

4. Keep The Steering Wheel Column Clean

Accumulation of debris and dust on the steering wheel column could make your steering wheel become hard and may lead to serious problems. Therefore, clean the steering wheel column regularly.

Causes For Steering Wheel Lock Up While Driving

Below are some of the probable causes that could result in wheel locking up.

  1. Problem In The Ignition Key System
  2. Faulty Power Steering Pump
  3. Factory Defect Problem in Steering Lock Bar
  4. Damaged Ignition Cylinder
  5. ECU Circuit or Programming Problem

Final Conclusion

We have listed all the possible reasons that could lead to steering wheel getting locked up while driving and have also mentioned the solution for each case. You could try diagnosing the problem yourself and see if you could fix it, otherwise, get it repaired by a mechanic as he would be able to diagnose it properly and check if there are any other problems that are causing the steering wheel to lock up while driving.

If you like this article and have any queries, let us know in the comment section below. Also, do not make any delay in fixing this problem as steering wheel lock up while driving could be hazardous.

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