Steering Wheel Jerk? 6 Causes + 5 Solutions


Have you been experiencing shakes or vibrations in your steering wheel lately? Has it given you a reason to be concerned about what may be wrong with your car? Or you did not think much of it? There may be some reasons why your steering wheel is jerking and you will find out those reasons in this article.

If your steering wheel is jerking, you should be alarmed! This is because, with time, this could cause a possible loss of power steering while driving.

 Firstly, your car’s tires or wheel areas may cause your steering wheel to jerk. Secondly, your car’s axle or engine could be the reason. Again, if your steering wheel is jerking, it may be that your brakes or steering components have a problem.

Case in point, a properly working car on a flat or good road will drive smoothly and evenly the whole time. This also does not mean that there will not be occasional vibrations in the steering wheel during the ride. And of course, any dents or bumps on the road can cause the steering wheel to jerk. 

If these jerks however become frequent or worse over some time, then there is certainly a part of your vehicle that is faulty. In this article, we will put together all the reasons why your steering wheel may jerk while you drive or brake at either high or low speeds.

Reasons why a steering wheel jerks

1. Due to tire imbalance

The tires should be the first thing to check once you notice your steering wheel is jerking. Your tires may be imbalanced. When this is the case, when driving at low speeds, your steering wheel will not vibrate but once you keep increasing your speed, you will notice the jerks.

To check this, make sure all the car’s tires are properly inflated. Also, check the tires for flat spots and wears depending on how long the car has been in use. These would give you a fair idea of which tires are out of balance and need to be inflated or changed to make the steering wheel stop jerking.

2. Due to a faulty wheel area

If you have had your tires checked and there are no issues with them, consider checking the wheel bearings. Wheel bearings can wear out or get damaged so if the steering wheel jerks only when you are making turns, it is likely a problem with your tie rod ends (part of the wheel area). 

On the other hand, if you are driving straight and your steering wheel is shaking, you should have your ball joints (a component of the wheel area) checked.

3. Due to a damaged axle or driveshaft

The next area to check if your steering wheel jerks are your axle. Most especially, if your car was involved in an accident recently and you started noticing the steering wheel vibrations, your axle or driveshaft could have been bent or damaged.

In this case, steering wheel jerks will be present even if you drive at low speeds but will be more frequent and noticeable as you increase your speed.

4. Due to a faulty engine

You could be experiencing jerks in your steering wheel because there may be a problem with your engine. Usually, if this is the case, your entire car will be shaking when you are driving or braking. However, these vibrations will most likely start with the steering wheel.

To be more specific, a damaged engine mount can cause your steering wheel to jerk especially if you are driving at high speeds. The air induction, fuel delivery, or spark-related issues of your engine may be some of the things you should also be checking.

5. Due to malfunctioning brakes

I do not know about you but the idea of faulty brakes freaks me out! When it comes to safety in the car, the main priority is the brakes. That being said, if your steering wheel is jerking, it could be an issue with your car’s brakes.

If your brakes are the reason why your steering wheel is shaking, you will notice the jerks when you apply the brakes of your car. Brake-related issues could stem from brake rotors, brake pads, and brake calipers.

6. Due to other non-car-related reasons

Apart from the reasons above, these are some “less worrying” reasons why your steering wheel may have jerked when you were driving or when you pumped on your brakes. You may have driven into a pothole on the road or ran over something on the road.

These scenarios will make your steering wheel jerk when it happens. It may leave no damage to the car but if the “hit” was so bad, you may have to have the bottom of your car checked to rule out any damages that may cost you more in the future.

How to prevent steering jerks

Whilst several factors cause steering wheel jerks, there are also a few things you can do to prevent it.

1. Perform regular maintenance checks on your car

The best way to avoid steering wheel jerks is by making sure you perform regular maintenance checks on your car. This will help you catch any potential issues before they escalate and cause bigger problems.

2. Check your tires regularly

As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons for steering wheel jerks is an imbalance in the tires. To avoid this, make sure you check your tires regularly, at least once a month. Also, don’t forget to check the air pressure and condition of the treads.

3. Take your car for a spin

If you have not been driving your car for a while, take it for a spin around the block before hitting the highway. This will help “loosen up” any parts that may have become stiff from disuse. This is important for older cars.

4. Be mindful of the roads you are driving on

Try to avoid driving on poorly maintained roads as much as possible. Be mindful of potholes and other obstacles that could cause damage to your car. If you can opt for smoother roads even if it means taking a longer route.

5. Drive carefully

Last but not least, drive carefully! This means being aware of your surroundings and driving within the speed limit. If you are driving on a rough road, go slow to avoid any jerks or bumps that could damage your car.

Final Thought

Steering wheel jerks can be caused by several things, some more serious than others. If you are experiencing steering wheel jerks, make sure to check your tires, brakes, and engine mounts. If the problem persists, take your car to a mechanic for a thorough check-up. Be mindful of the roads you are driving on and always drive carefully!

To end the article, it is noteworthy that if you are driving a properly working car on a smooth road, there is little to no reason why your steering wheel should jerk. That aside, if your steering wheel jerks while driving or whenever you apply the brakes of your car, it should have certain components of your car checked.

These components are the tires, axle or driveshaft, wheel area, engine, and brakes. 

Do not ever turn a blind eye to a shaking steering wheel as this may eventually cause you to lose your power steering, leading to injury to you and/or others in the car.

Gideon Ansah Baffour

Hello, passionate reader My name is GIDEON BAFFOUR ANSAH. There are a lot of things in this world that I love. My family, my friends, dogs, video games, and of course – everything with engines. It has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. There is just something about them that makes me happy. I've been blazing up the trails and immersing myself in this wonderful hobby turned career and on this website, I'm excited each day to share everything I've learned and continue to learn a day in day out.

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