When the steering wheel of the vehicle suddenly locks up or gets stuck, you can be in dire trouble. You can lose control of where the vehicle is going, and this can cause panic and lead to a crash if you fail to respond to the emergency situation properly. When the said wheel suddenly won't budge, you should try to slow down the vehicle safely and bring it to a halt carefully. Check the wheel lock-up to figure out what the real cause is. Fix this so that you can regain control of your vehicle.
Why do steering wheels lock up?
Steering wheels may lock up because of problems with the power steering pump, key mechanism, or lock pin. When plugged or wedged with road debris, the pump's valves and linkage might get stuck. The lockup may persist even after the key had been inserted into the ignition. In this case, you won't be able to start and drive the car. Usually, a worn-out key assembly is at the root of the steering wheel problem. This worn-out key mechanism has to be replaced. Simply moving the wheel to both sides might work in case the steering column catches. The lock-up may also be the result of a faulty locking pin. The pin might not be able to withdraw completely, which leads to the contact between the lock plate and the pin.
These are just some of the common reasons why the wheel might lock up. You may ask a mechanic to check the wheel to figure out the real culprit behind the locked steering. You may also use a manual to diagnose the problem.
How can you fix a steering wheel that's locked?
Steering wheels can be turned freely when ignition is off. But if the vehicle uses power steering, the wheel can be locked for safety and as an anti-theft measure. Usually, the lock is engaged when the wheel is turned too far in one direction. You will then hear a click. To unlock this wheel, you have to put the key in the ignition. Turn it until the lights and other accessories are switched on. As you turn the wheel to the same direction, make sure that your foot is pressed lightly on the brake pedal. Turn the key to start the vehicle or switch on the ignition. As the engine comes to life, the wheel may be unlocked. If this doesn't work right away, try shifting into gear until the wheel finally unlocks. If not, then consider consulting a mechanic or reading some instructions on the manual.
How can you start the vehicle when the steering wheel is stuck?
Some cars have a built-in wheel lock in the steering column as an anti-theft feature. This lock will be activated once the car's ignition is off, the car is in park, and the wheel is slightly angled to the left or right. The lock might be engaged unexpectedly, keeping you from starting the car as you turn on the ignition using the key. To unlock the wheel and start the car, you have to insert the key in ignition while your vehicle is in park and your left foot is slightly pressed on the brake pedal. As you turn the key to switch on the ignition, turn the steering wheel to both sides in short, quick motions. This usually does the trick in releasing the lock. You may then start the vehicle.