How To Tell If A Steering Gear Box Is Bad?

The steering gearbox contains the gears that allow the drives to transmit the driver’s steering inputs into the linkage and mechanism that turn the wheels properly, ensuring they can run correctly. The steering box multiplies the driver’s steering changes so that the wheels on the front of the vehicle can move more than the steering wheel.

In this article, learn how to tell if a steering gear box is bad and get running your vehicle.

How To Tell If A Steering Gear Box Is Bad?

Here are some symptoms to overcome the steering problem:

1. Oil Leaks From The Power Steering

If you notice that the steering box is difficult to handle and you see leaks on the ground that could come from the power steering.
In a hydraulic power steering, the power steering fluid is not allowed to leak unless there is a crack somewhere, maybe a worn gasket or mechanical problem.

To know that the leak comes from the power steering fluid and not from the other types of fluid is to check its colour. The power steering fluid color is usually pink or red and has a different smell.

If you notice that leak is indeed coming from the power steering it’s better to go to a car service and fix this issue as soon as possible.

2. A Stuck Steering Wheel

If you notice that the steering wheel becomes too difficult to handle in a hydraulic power steering, that is because the steering box retains more heat or may lose hydraulic pressure. This is a common problem for a hard-to-handle steering wheel besides the fluid leak.

If you notice that the stiff steering is better to go to a car service and fix this issue as soon as possible.

3. Crackling Sounds As You Turn The Steering Wheel

If you hear cracklings when turning the steering wheel, that is a clear symptom of a failing steering box. Those sounds are made because of the lack of fluid. Because of excess heat, it creates a direct contact between two metal bodies which creates that sound. If you are in a turn and hit a pothole you will notice that the sounds amplify.

4. A Smell Of Burnt Fluid

Although not a popular cause, the smell of burnt oil is an essential symptom in which the distinct odour of the power steering fluid helps you distinguish this fluid from others in your car. If the smell becomes stronger, replace the oil sooner and it happens when the steering box is heated, so you will feel it while driving.

5. Pothole Or Bumps On The Road Will Feel Stronger In The Steering Wheel

This is another common symptom when the steering gearbox fails or is in bad condition. As this car part weakens, you will likely feel stronger vibrations in the steering wheel when you hit a pothole or a bump or you could experience certain shocks during turns.

6. Burnt Fuss

The simplest problem is a burnt fuss. All you have to do is replace it and chances are that the problem is solved. If it burns again or has not been burned from the start, the steering box or rack must be changed.

7. The Car Tends To Pull To One Side

When you drive the car on a straight road and see that car pulls on one side, this can mean a problem with the steering box. Although this is a common problem regarding wheel alignment, this can also mean a faulty steering box.

The “check engine” light could indicate that there is a problem with the steering box.

How To Overcome This Problem?

In this condition, either we have to repair it or replace it. The second solution may be with some risks. In this case, you have another option that is you can also replace it with a steering box from a car junkyard. But this is a bad choice. Because you don’t know the history of the donor car.

You could either be lucky to get yourself a very good part or you could get a steering box that fails again sooner than you had expected.

Can The Steering Box Be Repaired?

In this case, the answer is yes. There are specialized car repair shops that can fix a bad steering box, but that comes with some risks. Being a complex part, it is not easy to repair. Do search for a repair, which the shop offers testing and warranty.

How To Test A Steering Box?

Now, place the car on a smooth road and move the steering wheel from left to right side, from bottom to top, and vice versa. If you notice that there is a problem with the sound of the steering wheel and the steering column, it is important to go to the service for a deeper check.

Pulling and pushing the steering wheel in several directions to identify the loosening of the elastic couplings or joints. The steering problems can also be identified by gently turning the steering wheel from left to right, with the car wheels in the right spot, without moving them when the engine is running.

Full turning to the left or the right with the car wheels in the right spot without moving them when the engine is running. Full turning to the left or the right is recommended to check for unusual vibrations or noises.

How Many Costs Does A Steering Box or Steering Rack?

Usually, a new steering box prices start from $599 and could end up above $1499, also the labour costs start from $249, depending on what service you choose.


By having your vehicle regularly serviced and free of general wear and tear and staying alert for any of the warning signs mentioned above, you will have a much better chance of finding and fixing a steering problem before it becomes costly and dangerous.

We hope that your doubts are cleared by this article. Now that you know how to tell if a steering gear box is bad, if your doubts persist, you can put your comment below in the comment section.

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