Why Does My Car Steering Wheel Lock While Driving?


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As a safety measure, the steering wheel of a car is designed to lock up so that it wouldn’t move if there is no ignition key.

However, the steering wheel does get locked up while driving when certain conditions prevail such as mechanical faults or issues with the ignition system.

Quite unlike modern cars, previous cars had no power steering wheel and so, there were no issues of power pump failure.

The power steering pump is a delicate tweak that commonly locks up when the engine suddenly dies.

Your steering wheel is bound to lock up suddenly while driving when there is a problem with the vehicle’s power steering pump.

Similarly, sudden sharp and frequent turns have a profound effect on your steering wheel.

When you make abrupt turns while driving, your steering wheel is liable to become stuck and locked.

To guard against this, turn slowly which will reduce the odds of that happening.

At certain times, there is a sort of fatigue failure of the ignition system during which your car key may fail to turn your engine on or off which can lead to the steering wheel locking up suddenly while driving.

What to do when the steering wheel locks up while driving.

The first thing to do when your steering locks up while driving is to stop the car immediately and get off the road, if that is possible, and if not, leave it where it is and go to a safer place out of harm’s way.

Thereafter, if you know how to resolve the problem, so much the better and all you may need to attend to it is a DIY guide.

Otherwise, refer to a qualified mechanic.

Other common measures are replacing the power steering pump or the ignition switch system.

You may also have to clean the steering wheel column and apply some steering lubrication oil.

Finally, as much as possible, avoid routes with sharp turns or navigate them very slowly.

Why did my steering wheel get stiff while driving?

The primary reasons why the steering wheel may become stiff are: poor maintenance delayed servicing and worn-out components.

In any case, you should know the cause(s) of your stiffness, which will assist you to take appropriate corrective measures or alternatively,  get the services of the nearest mechanics without any delay.

Just imagine the dangers a stiff steering wheel portends to you, other road users, and valuable properties as well; with a stiff steering wheel, you cannot make turns, change lanes or avert any collision.

When your power steering fluid is deleted, chances are you may have a stiff wheel.

This is mostly caused by leakages and so, filling it up will help, but do not forget to plug the avenue for the leak.

Power steering fluid can go bad and become stiff, thick or lose the properties of a lubricant which makes it ineffective leading to wheel stiffness.

When this happens, flush it out and refill. Your steering wheel can also stiffen due to a faulty power steering pump and so does a damaged serpentine belt.

Finally, a malfunctioning steering rack due to extreme temperature changes or road debris may cause the steering wheel to become stiff too.

Whatever may be the cause for such malfunction, visit the nearest mechanics without delay.

What causes steering wheel problems?

There are varied reasons for steering wheel problems,  the most notable of which are poor or irregular maintenance, faulty power steering pump or rack, depleted or expired steering wheel lubricant, the use of wrong ignition keys, and taking sharp turns frequently.

In any case, getting a reliable solution must involve knowing the cause of the problem.

This is most important knowing that by doing this, you may be saving yourself and possibly others too from premature or untimely deaths.

Why does my car’s steering wheel lock while driving? – Conclusion.

For the steering wheel to get locked up while driving is really a dreadful adventure, since you and others may be at the mercy of what you can’t control.

You could veer off the road to anywhere, dive headfirst into a ditch or a river,  get taken to just about anywhere, and so on.

It, therefore, stands to reason that you must know, as much as possible, what to do should this happen. 

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