How Long Does a Steering Column Last?

Your car’s steering wheel is the key to maneuvering on the road, into parking spaces and more. However, it doesn’t do its job alone. In fact, it’s only one part of many in the steering system. The steering column is a crucial component – and it’s much more than just a collection of plastic pieces used to protect the intermediate shaft.

Your car’s steering column includes a number of different components. It provides a mounting location for the steering wheel, as well as the universal joint necessary to let the wheel turn freely in any direction. The column also attaches to the intermediate shaft (a series of tightly fitting splines keeps the two mated together). This way, when you turn the steering wheel, the steering column turns, turning the intermediate shaft, and then activating the steering gear to turn the wheels.

Other components in the steering column include the tilt and telescope mechanism that lets you adjust the steering wheel to your preferred position, as well as the ignition housing. Obviously, it’s a critical piece for your car. You use the steering column every time you drive, but it’s not subject to the same type of wear and tear as other components.

In fact, your car’s steering column should last for the life of the vehicle. With that being said, if you drive very frequently, particularly on curvy roads, you’ll put more wear and tear on it than someone who primarily drives on the interstate, or drives very little.

The most common problems with steering columns, other than damage to the plastic cladding, is wear to the universal joint, which can make it start to bind. This will make it hard to turn the steering wheel, and you may not have a full range of motion. The splines connecting the steering column to the intermediate shaft will also wear over time, creating a “loose” feeling in the wheel.

Given the critical nature of the steering column, it’s vital to know a few symptoms of impending failure. These include:

  • The steering wheel does not turn as far as it should
  • The steering wheel binds midway through a turn
  • The steering wheel feels “loose”
  • You hear a clunking when turning the wheel
  • Turning the wheel makes a squealing or creaking noise

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you may need to look at replacing your steering column. Have a certified mechanic inspect the steering column and other components of your car to see what repairs need to be made.


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Brikk

18 years of experience
389 reviews
Brikk
18 years of experience
Jeep Commander V8-4.7L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Charlotte, North Carolina
Brikk was amazing. He was professional, thorough, and went above and beyond to get the job done. He ran into some unexpected issues that required him to stay longer than scheduled, but he never complained and remained sweet and courteous. He pointed out some areas of concern to attend to, but didn't pressure us into sealing the deal today. Not that it was an issue because I'd gladly call him again. Definitely a quality mechanic and his work is nothing short of satisfaction.
Jeep Wrangler - Universal Joint (U-joint) - Charlotte, North Carolina
Third time to use him. Good guy

Joe

15 years of experience
453 reviews
Joe
15 years of experience
Kia Sedona V6-3.8L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Fairview, Tennessee
Joe was super friendly and very thorough. Extremely pleased!
Honda CR-V - Cooling System Flush - Hermitage, Tennessee
Explained everything he was going to do and got the job done right with no problems. He also addressed an oil leaking issue I had and made a temporary fix for that. He does a good job on fixing your vehicle and will answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Ben

41 years of experience
1410 reviews
Ben
41 years of experience
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 V8-5.3L - Car is not starting - Spring, Texas
Volkswagen Passat - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Bellaire, Texas
Ben was great! He was prompt to the appointment and very friendly and knowledgeable. I will definitely be requesting him in the future should I need automotive work done.

Grzegorz

41 years of experience
473 reviews
Grzegorz
41 years of experience
BMW Z4 L6-2.5L - Oil Change - San Francisco, California
Audi A4 Quattro - Timing Belt - San Francisco, California

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