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Steering Column: What it’s For And How it Works

A car’s steering column is an essential component within any vehicle’s steering system, as it is responsible for transmitting the movements made by the steering wheel to the vehicle’s front wheels.

Keep reading to get an in-depth explanation of what this component is, how it works, and the maintenance required to extend its useful life.


What are a Vehicle’s Steering Components?

A vehicle’s steering system is composed of several components that work together to allow drivers to control the direction in which their wheels face, the main ones being:

  • Steering wheel;
  • Steering rack;
  • Steering terminals;
  • Tie rods;
  • Ball joints;
  • Shock absorbers;
  • Axles and joints;
  • Steering column.


What is a Steering Column?

A steering column is a long, straight part that extends from the steering rack to a vehicle’s front wheels.

Four-wheel drive vehicles and heavy vehicles may have several interconnected steering columns.


What is the Purpose of a Steering Column?

The primary function of the steering column is to transmit the rotational movement of the steering wheel to the wheels, allowing the driver to steer the vehicle.

When the driver turns the steering wheel, the steering column converts this movement into a rotation that causes the wheels to rotate in the desired direction, allowing the vehicle to turn.


Where is the Steering Column Located?

Although the exact location varies according to the make and model of the vehicle, the steering column is always located at the front of the car. However, if a vehicle has more than one, they may be in other places.

If you have difficulty finding this part, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.


How Does the Steering Column Work?

This component within the steering system works as follows:

  1. When a vehicle’s steering wheel rotates, various gears in the steering rack rotate, forming a rotational movement;
  2. From the steering rack, the movement is transmitted to the column, which, in turn, sends the movement to a vehicle’s front wheels.

This makes it possible to turn the wheels in the direction sought, therefore turning the vehicle.

A loose steering column may creak or crack.



Noisy Steering Column: What could it be?

One of the main problems in the vehicle’s steering column that can cause these noises is ball joint or steering terminal wear. The result is the front wheels moving inaccurately.

As such, if you hear this type of noise, you are advised to seek out a mechanic to diagnose and solve the problem before it worsens.


What are the Signs of Steering Column Problems?

Identifying the signs of steering column problems is crucial to maintaining vehicle safety and performance. Here are the main symptoms of issues in a car’s steering column:

These symptoms can be caused by various problems, such as joint wear, gaps in the steering terminals or even physical damage to the column itself.



What Should You Do When Faced with Steering Column Problems?

If you face problems with this component, you should look for a car repair shop to diagnose the problem.

Based on the diagnosis, it may be necessary to repair or replace the steering column.


When Should You Replace a Car’s Steering Column?

Replacing the steering column is necessary in some situations. For example, if the column has excessive wear, gaps, or irreparable damage, replacement is the only viable option.

In addition, if the mechanic diagnoses critical problems that compromise the vehicle’s safety, such as severe wear of the ball joints or steering terminals, they will highly recommend that you replace them.


Which is the most effective tool for removing the steering column?

The best tools include the following:

After installing the new steering column, you’ll need to align your steering for it to work properly.


How Often Do You Need to Carry Out Steering Column Maintenance?

A steering column can last for hundreds of thousands of kilometres, although this can be variable.

Some vehicles may have a longer lifespan, while others may require more frequent replacements.

The best way to determine when to replace your steering column is to look for signs of wear, such as noises, vibrations, or misaligned steering.

However, ensuring your car is correctly maintained helps prevent any symptoms of abnormalities.


How Much Does a Steering Column Cost?

The price of a steering column varies from tens to hundreds of euros, depending on the type of vehicle, the manufacturer, and technical specifications.

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