5 Symptoms of a Bad Steering Column (and Replacement Cost)

5 Symptoms of a Bad Steering Column (and Replacement Cost)

(Updated on July 29, 2020)

The steering column is connected to the suspension of a vehicle. More specifically, the steering column is the link between the steering wheel and the steering mechanism of a vehicle.

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This means that when a driver turns the steering wheel with their hands, the steering column is transferring this torque power to the steering shaft and pinion. The wheels can then turn left or right depending on which direction the driver turns the steering wheel.

Obviously, it would be a very bad thing if you lost the ability to control the steering because of a bad steering column. This would be something that you’d want to take care of immediately.

Top 5 Bad Steering Column Symptoms

A bad steering column is not something you should leave alone because it will impact your driving ability and risk the lives of you, your passengers, and others on the road. To recognize when you need to replace your steering column, below five of the most common signs that indicate when it has gone bad.

1) Steering Wheel Not Centered

steering wheel off center

When you turn a steering wheel, it is usually able to return to the center without any problems. This feature is included in the power steering system.

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However, this ability is affected by a blocked steering column or damage. The result will be a steering wheel that is more difficult to center.

2) Strange Sounds

noise while driving

Do you hear noises when you turn the steering wheel? These sounds could be clicking, squeaking or clunking as you turn the steering wheel. These sounds are caused by bad internal components in the steering column.

Most cases will begin small and gradually become more frequent.

3) Steering Wheel Tilt Malfunction

Most power steering vehicles have a steering tilt function which lets the driver change the angle of the steering wheel. This feature is designed to allow the driver to adjust the angle of the steering wheel to be more comfortable for them to use.

If this steering tilt option malfunctions, it is likely due to a bad component of the steering column. The result will be a freely tilting steering wheel that does not lock in place.

4) Hard to Turn

no power steering

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It should be easy to turn the steering wheel. Power steering is designed to make turning a smooth and easy thing to do. If the steering wheel becomes difficult to turn, it could be due to a faulty steering column. There could be faulty gaskets or gears within the steering column that are causing this to happen.

5) Dirty Steering System


You need to have your steering system checked periodically because dirt and debris will regularly build up within your system. If you let enough of this debris build up, then it will have a negative impact on your steering column.

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You can inspect your steering column to determine if dirt is present. If the steering column is acting abnormally, it’s likely that this is the problem.

Steering Column Replacement Cost

steering column replacement cost

The replacement cost of a steering column is anywhere from $400 to $900. If the steering column is used, it will cost you about $100 or $300 for new. The labor will be the biggest expense for replacing your steering column.

It will take more than a couple of hours for a mechanic to remove your old steering column and then replace it with the new one. The labor cost will range from $200 to $600.

It all depends on the make and model of your vehicle and how complicated it is for the mechanic to access your steering column.

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