Have you noticed your steering wheel moving on its own? Does this happen while you are driving, braking or are parked? Are you wondering if this steering wheel movement should be checked by a mechanic or is something you can overlook? In this article, we will explore the various reasons why your steering wheel is moving on its own and what you can possibly do in these situations.
To kick start the conversation, I will breakdown the reasons under these categories:
- movement when you start the car
- movement while driving
- movement while braking and movement when parked.
If your steering wheel turns or moves when you start your car, the most likely reason will be because you did not straighten and relax the steering wheel before shutting down the engine.
If you are driving straight down the road and you let go of the steering wheel and you see it move back and forth, it is not moving on its own. This motion is known as “feedback” and there is nothing wrong with your car or steering wheel.
However, while driving and still holding on to the steering wheel if you notice movement not caused by you, there is a problem. It means your wheels are not properly aligned or imbalanced, your power steering is faulty or one of the front tires may be soft or not properly inflated.
Also, if you notice your steering wheel moving on its own when you apply your brakes, your brake calipers may be faulty, you may have defective wheel bearings, tire imbalances, defective wheel speed sensors, loose, worn or damaged suspension parts such as bushings, springs, struts/shocks, steering leakage and tie-rods.
Lastly, if you sit still in a parking lot in neutral or in gear with your foot on the brake and the steering wheel is moving on its own, then your car has a problem and you need to see a mechanic.
Why does my steering wheel move on its own when I start my car?
As mentioned briefly earlier, if your steering wheel moves on its own when you turn on the ignition of your car, the reason is that you did not straighten and relax the steering wheel before shutting down the engine.
There is no cause for alarm here. Just make it a point to check that your steering wheel is straightened and relaxed every time you turn off your ignition or park your car. It is that simple!
Why does my steering wheel move on its own while I am driving?
The steering wheel is connected to the steering shaft, which is also connected to the steering rack and to the tie-rods and then tires move with the road. This connection allows you to turn the tires but input to the tires can turn the steering wheel and this is known as feedback.
If this happens, your steering wheel will move on its own while you are driving and there is nothing wrong with your car or steering system.
The steering systems of cars are designed in such a way in the absence of a steering input by the driver, they naturally tend to move back towards the neutral position, straight ahead. That is why after negotiating a curve, once you slightly release the grip on your steering wheel, it comes back into position.
On the other hand, if you are driving and while your hands are still firmly griping the steering wheel, you notice it is moving on its own, that needs to be checked. This means the wheels of your vehicle are not properly aligned or imbalanced. It could also mean that your power steering is faulty or one of the front tires may be soft or not properly inflated.
All these mean it is dangerous to keep driving the car without having a mechanic check it.
Why does my steering wheel move on its own while I am braking?
There could be a number of reasons why your steering wheel moves when you hit the brakes of your car. The prime reason is one of your brake calipers (most likely the front one) is seized up or not working at all. Since brakes are one of a vehicle’s critical safety systems, this should make you nervous and concerned. Simply put, it is dangerous!
Other reasons why your steering wheel shakes when you brake are defective wheel bearings, tire imbalances, defective wheel speed sensors, loose, worn or damaged suspension parts such as bushings, springs, struts/shocks, steering leakage and tie-rods.
If you are driving on a smooth road and your steering wheel keeps moving anytime you brake, the problem is certainly coming from your car. Due to the car having numerous components, it can be daunting and frustrating to find out the exact reason why your steering wheel moves when you brake or are just driving.
That being said, if you apply the brakes and your steering wheel moves on its own even after your wheels are balanced and aligned, then the problems will be bad front end parts or tire wear
Why does my steering wheel move on its own when my car is parked?
If your steering wheel moves on its own when your car is parked in neutral or in gear with your foot on the brake, then your car has a problem and you need to see a mechanic.
To explain, the steering gear is pressing against the pitman arm or equivalent and is forcing the wheels to alter their position, even though you are standing still. The force of the power assisted steering is enough to overcome the friction of the rubber on the road, gravel or sand and gravity to make the wheels move.
In conclusion, there are varied reasons why your steering wheel may be moving on its own. These reasons should or should not be a cause to worry depending on if the movement happens when you started the car, was driving it, while hitting on the brakes or while it was parked.