Car impossible to steer

When my daughter went to park, it was almost impossible to turn the steering wheel. She looked under the car and saw a belt on the ground. I was thinking it could be a tension pulley or one of the clips that needed to be replaced.
Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
It is a common problem that the tensioner pulley becomes worn and needs to be replaced. Another problem you may have is the ac compressor locking up and causing the belt to break. A certified technician can help determine the cause of the problem. It could just be that the belt was worn out and needed to be replaced. We recommend replacing the belt around 70,000 miles to prevent failure.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced mechanics :

If your vehicle is only hard to steer when you first turn it on, then you likely have a damaged steering rack. Often this problem will go away when the car warms up, and the rack becomes hot and well lubricated.
The most common cause of a stiff steering wheel is the lack of enough power steering fluid in the system. This condition can arise if there`s fluid leakage from the pressurized hose area. Refilling the liquid in the power steering tank will fix the problem for the time being, but the leak must be taken care of.
The most common cause of a stiff steering wheel is when you are running low on power steering fluid in your system. Often, this happens when there is a leak in the system from the pressurized hose area. Most of the time, it is due to a cracked or loose hose causing the fluid to leak out.
If you have experienced total steering failure, you must stop the vehicle without pulling over. The key to doing this safely is to slow-down as gradually as possible, while activating your hazard lights. This will give other drivers enough time to react and avoid your vehicle.
The most common reasons for free play in the steering are looseness in the steering gear itself or looseness in one or more of the steering linkage sockets. Steering box or rack and pinion that is connected to the steering wheel by the steering column.
As for the steering, it`s not the weight, it`s the feedback; you can feel what the wheels are doing. The faster you drive the lighter the steering wheel feels. Starting with a stiff wheel as you call it. Offers better control at higher speeds then a light wheel.
Another identifier to watch out for is a sudden squeaky noise coming from the engine. If you ever hear a grinding or squeaking noise coming from the engine when you turn the wheel, then that is a really significant indicator that your power steering belt has seen better days.
This can be caused by a number of things, such as tyre pressure, lack of fluid oil and tyre alignment. Heavy steering means that it is more difficult to steer your vehicle, and the performance of the car can be compromised by a stiff, unreactive steering wheel.
1. Low Power Steering Fluid. Low power steering fluid is one of the most common issues that you`ll have as a driver. Your car will need its power steering fluid topped-up every once in a while, to ensure that the hydraulic power steering system continues to function smoothly.
Possible culprits could include a loose, worn, or damaged power steering belt, low power steering fluid levels, or issues with the steering gear. If there`s an issue with the power steering belt, a quick replacement can be the solution.
Difficulty turning the wheel: There can be more than one reason for this symptom, but the bulk of the time, it`s going to be low power steering fluid. If your wheel feels “hard” and tough to turn, you might need power steering fluid. Loud steering: Steering shouldn`t make sounds.
Common reasons for this to happen: Worn Tie Rods: Tie rods serve as the driver`s connection between the steering unit and the tires. Tie rods are present in both rack and pinion and recirculating ball setups. If tie rod ends become worn, they may cause the steering wheel to feel loose.
Low power steering fluid

The power steering system requires this fluid to both pressurize and lubricate. If a hose in the power steering system becomes damaged or loose, the fluid can leak out, causing the steering wheel to become hard to turn.

The power steering can and absolutely will go out if the alternator or battery fails while driving.
Yes it does, if the battery is running low the car control unit can switch off the electric power steering. It can be a bit scary if the steering switches off while driving but it is possible and can happen if the alternator fails. It is still possible to steer for safety reasons but is difficult.
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Various factors, including a malfunctioning steering angle sensor, a fault in the control module, or low power steering fluid levels, can cause the BMW Active Steering Inactive problem. To troubleshoot this issue, it`s important to understand and address the root cause promptly.
Various factors, including a malfunctioning steering angle sensor, a fault in the control module, or low power steering fluid levels, can cause the BMW Active Steering Inactive problem. To troubleshoot this issue, it`s important to understand and address the root cause promptly.
The most universal [common] power steering fluid is ATF.” Your power steering fluid type matters, but it isn`t difficult to find. You can purchase power steering fluid at any auto parts store, although you don`t need to replace it often. Consult your owner`s manual if you plan to buy it yourself.
The most universal [common] power steering fluid is ATF.” Your power steering fluid type matters, but it isn`t difficult to find. You can purchase power steering fluid at any auto parts store, although you don`t need to replace it often. Consult your owner`s manual if you plan to buy it yourself.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Power steering loss, no belts are turning but the car is running fine. I also have a soft pedal. Whats wrong with my car?
ANSWER : I have only seen this situation once in my 30+ years and it turned out to be a broken crankshaft pulley. Belts are driven by the engine. The crankshaft pulley spins the belts, which in turn spin the air conditioner compressor, power steering and water pumps, and the alternator. The vehicle should be towed to your local repair shop and not driven. Without the water pump spinning to circulate the coolant, the engine will quickly overheat and result in more extensive damage.

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my car has theissue that it often lose power steering suddenly while turning.nothing leaks but there’s clunky noice when turning
ANSWER : The only way to determine if the collision caused damage is to carefully MEASURE the alignment and, as well, the frame dimensions using a tram. If those steps have not been specifically taken, what the mechanics have told you about "no damage" is meaningless. If the dealer has told you there is a problem with the steering rack, there very well could be and that possibility should be investigated. If the rack is faulty, it should be repaired or replaced. There is not supposed to be any clunking noises when you turn the steering wheel. The fact that there is a noise indicates a problem. The noise could be due to a problem with the strut bearing that allows the strut to turn freely with the steering knuckle, a defective tie rod end, a sway bar link or component and so forth. If you have hydraulically (not electric) assisted powered steering, loss of power assist could be due to a fault with the pump, the pump drive belt, or rack. Based on what you are describing, I would recommend you request a steering inspection – intermittent loss of assist and the responding certified mechanic will pinpoint the origin of the noise, as well as the cause of loss of assist, and get the required repairs implemented. With regard to the possibility of damage to the suspension and/or frame due to the collision, the ONLY way to determine that is to have those components measured using the appropriate tools and having in hand the Factory Service Manual which contains every relevant frame measurement for reference. You CANNOT visually look at a vehicle and determine if it is straight and undamaged because some of the specifications are measured within tens of thousandths of an inch (toe, for example) or tiny fractions of a degree (wheel camber). A carefully selected shop with trained individuals will have to perform such an inspection. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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Reference point for the width of the car and correct steering method.
ANSWER : Hi there, thanks for writing in. Being that you’re a new driver, if you live in the United States; I’d take advantage of a great program aimed at teens called B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everybody Safe). It’s based in North Carolina, but they have BRAKES events across the US. They teach defensive driving tactics and also how to gauge the overall width, length of your vehicle.

Without knowing what type of vehicle you’re planning on driving first, it’s difficult for us to tell you what reference point is good. However, when driving, having your hands at 10 o’clock and two o’clock position is the best for easy and safe operation of the steering wheel. It’s also a good idea for you to take a basic driving education class; which can easily be researched online.

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I put the wrong key in my car and a few weeks later my car just shut down and it will not start I believe it’s the computer but…
ANSWER : Hi there. What had happened is the wrong key set the security to the vehicle. This is to prevent the vehicle from starting with the wrong keys. Try removing the battery cables (+) and (-) for 13 minutes. During that time, put the original key in the ignition and turn it on. Activate everything in the car even though there is no power. Then remove the key and hook up the battery cables. The computer should have reset and reset the security. If the security is still being tripped, then I recommend seeking out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you

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Replaced alternator on car 2 times each time shows it’s charging 14v let car run for a little bit then test drive and car voltage
ANSWER : There are reports that the replacement alternators will not communicate with the engine computer and will not charge correctly. I recommend using only the manufacturer approved replacement part. It can be new or remanufactured but approved for use in the vehicle. Some lower cost alternators on the aftermarket will have charging problems since they will not communicate with the ECM on the vehicle and will stop charging.

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Did my steering wheel locked up because I did not have any oil in my car?
ANSWER : If you are referring to engine oil, lack of engine oil might cause the engine to stop and that would cause loss of power steering. If, though, you are referring to the power steering hydraulic fluid (the PS system uses hydraulic fluid rather than an "oil"), lack of hydraulic fluid in the pump will cause loss of power steering even if the engine is running. If you are still having trouble with the power steering system, or you want it inspected for proper operation, please use YourMechanic’s power steering service page to request service. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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A car I just purchased is having issues. The power steering when out and came back. Now all the gauges on the dash board are flick
ANSWER : Many 2007 Cobalts were recalled to repair faults in the power steering system. To determine if you vehicle was included in the power steering recall, please use NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool. You may have to visit a dealer or call Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020, as well, to determine if your specific vehicle was actually repaired. Sometimes owners don’t take their vehicles in for recall repairs so even though your car might have been recalled, that doesn’t mean it was actually fixed.

If the recall does not apply, you can schedule a power steering malfunction diagnostic – loss of assist and the problem will be diagnosed and repaired by a certified mechanic from YourMechanic. With regard to the incidents you are experiencing with loss of engine power, the cause of that can be diagnosed, and any required repairs made, if you request an engine loss of power diagnostic. To give you an initial idea of causes of loss of power, although there are many possibilities, a partial list would include oxygen sensors, fuel pump and/or filter, vacuum leaks, ignition system malfunctions, bad valve timing if the timing belt or chain is worn or skipped, blocked exhaust (e.g., catalytic converter fails or become clogged), airflow sensor, throttle position sensor, and so forth. Whatever the cause, if you request the engine loss of power diagnostic, the certified mechanic will get this resolved promptly. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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Driving, then engine/oil light turns on, steering locks up, car dies; but just fine after turning off than on.
ANSWER : Any time loss of steering, or power assist to the steering is lost, it can be a safety issue and should be looked into as soon as possible. If the oil light and/or check engine light are flashing before it stalls, it can be a few different issues causing this. Also, a fault code may be stored in the system. Warning lights flashing after the engine stalls is normal. Most engine control units monitor readings from the oil pressure switch as well as the dozens of other sensors. Make sure the engine oil level is correct. If the oil pressure switch is intermittently losing it’s signal, then the ecu may think there is no engine oil pressure and shut down as a safety measure.

Have a certified technician look into the engine stalling as soon as possible. Losing steering and brake assist can be a safety hazard.

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