Ever been behind the wheel of a car that just seems to be hard to keep under control? Wandering steering can make a big task out of a short ride.  The Columbia, SC Auto Repair Pro has more on steering wander and what may be causing your problem.

When your vehicle seems to drift back and forth from one side to the other it is called steering wander.  There are multiple parts you will need to check to determine your cause of wandering steering.

Possible Causes of Steering Wander

Tire Pressure – It may seem too simple but something as minor as under-inflated tires can cause steering wander.  I suggest checking tire pressure first as it may the easiest fix if this is your issue.

Faulty, worn or loose steering components – There are multiple parts you will want to check. Any of the following could be loose or worn, causing your car’s steering to drift.

  • steering column couplings
  • tie rod ends
  • inner tie rod sockets (on rack & pinion steering)
  • idler arm & center link (on parallelogram steering units)
  • rack mounts
  • excessive play in steering rack or gear

Mechanic Tip: You can check the amount of play in your steering rack or gear to see if this is your problem.  In most cases, your lateral play should be a quarter-inch or less.  You can refer to your owner’s manual for specs for your make and model.  Replacing worn out parts and sometimes adjusting the rack yoke or adjustment screw on the steering box will help reduce the play as well.

Wheel Bearings – If your wheel bearings are not properly adjusted or have become loose, it may cause wandering steering.  You should inspect and adjust your wheel bearing to the manufacturer specs.

Severe Toe Misalignment – You should check your steering linkage to see if you are having a toe misalignment issue.  You will need to adjust or possibly repair.

Caster – Insufficient caster may be caused by increased ride height in your rear end or lowered ride height in the front.  This could be due to air shocks or air springs in the back end or weak springs or shorter than your stock springs being installed.  You should reset caster to recommended specifications.

For steering wander or any other auto related problem, come to Sanford’s Automotive Service in Columbia, SC.  Our ASE Certified Master Mechanic will take care of all of your auto repair and auto maintenance needs – foreign or domestic.  At Sanford’s we always get it done right the first time!