What is a steering wheel inspection?

When mechanics perform a steering wheel inspection, they will investigate the cause of your creaking steering wheel by checking a variety of parts, including your shocks, bushings, ball joints, tie rods, and power steering system.
Your steering wheel is a crucial part of your vehicle. A creaking steering wheel could be a simple fix, but it could also be a sign of something more serious.

How to perform a steering wheel inspection

Your mechanic will examine a few different parts of your car to determine the cause of the noisy steering wheel. Here are some common issues that cause creaky steering wheels:
  • Worn shocks/struts: Shocks can wear out over time. If you notice fluid on one of your front shocks, it’s likely blown and needs replacing.
  • Dry jounce bushing: Located at the top of the front strut, a dry jounce bushing can cause a groaning or creaking sound when you turn.
  • Dry/damaged suspension bushings: Bushings can deteriorate and crack over time, causing creaking in the steering wheel.
  • Worn ball joints: Ball joints allow for movement and must be well lubricated to work properly. However, the grease can wear out, causing noise and deterioration.
  • Damaged tie rod ends: Tie rods are a crucial part of your steering system. Creaking can indicate damaged tie rods, but these usually make knocking sounds with tight, low-speed turns.
  • Damaged power steering pump/rack/belt: Issues with the power steering rack, pump, or belt typically cause a whining sound during low-speed turns—which could be mistaken for a creaking sound.

When do I need to get a steering wheel inspection?

To cover your bases, it’s best to get your steering wheel checked out as soon as possible if you hear noises when turning.
A creaking sound when you turn your steering wheel could be an easy fix—for example, it may just require something simple maintenance, like lubricating your suspension system. However, it could be an indication of more serious issues, which could be a safety issue or could lead to more expensive repairs down the road.

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