What’s wrong w/ my steering?

steering wheel makes a kind of clunking feeling when turning sharp corners or on rocky roads at if something is worn/lose. Tire wear is normal and tracking while driving at low and high speeds is fine. No shimmy, vibration etc.

My car has 222000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
There are many, many components in the suspension that could account for the noise, some are not expensive to repair and all can be repaired right at your location. Thus, I encourage you to seek out a diagnostic and then with the mechanic’s advice and explanation, you can decide how best to handle it. Possibilities include the strut mount, ball joints, control arm bushings, loose steering rack mount, sway bar and mounts, even the outer CV joints. If you request a vehicle noise diagnostic, the responding certified mechanic will definitely find the origin of the noise. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

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

A creaking sound when turning your steering wheel may be nothing more than a sign that your suspension system needs lubrication, but it may be a sign of something more serious, including tie rod damage, power steering rack damage, or a failing strut/shock.
Steering racks can grow damaged over time as they develop wear and tear, and when they do, they make it much harder to steer your vehicle. If your vehicle is only hard to steer when you first turn it on, then you likely have a damaged steering rack.
Failing Water Pump Pulley: The most common cause of squealing or squeaking from the timing belt cover is the water pump pulley. If the bearings in the pulley are beginning to fail, they will make noise. Eventually, they`ll seize and the water pump will no longer operate, causing your engine to overheat.
Power Steering System: If you hear a loud screech or whine as you make your turns, you may have an issue with the power steering system. Sometimes a simple fluid top-off is all that is required, in other cases, major repairs are needed. Tie Rods: A clunking sound as you turn can be a sign of a loose or busted tie rod.
The most common reason is simply due to wear and tear on the parts of your car. Over time, the bearings in your steering column can become worn down, causing them to make noise when they rub against each other. Another common cause of noise from the steering wheel is due to a lack of lubrication.
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Vehicle Suspension

Besides brakes squeaking, the most common squeaks are usually associated with your vehicle`s suspension. The squeaking suspension parts are often associated with a lack of lubrication when metal-on-metal wear is happening in connections such as the tie-rods, suspension joints and steering linkage.

High-Pitched Squeal

You may hear this sound while accelerating or right after starting when the engine is cold. A loose or worn fan belt, also known as the serpentine belt, is usually the cause. Replacing this belt or belt pulley should eliminate the sound.

Some common causes for squeaking include faulty serpentine belts, power steering systems, brake pads, or suspension. Although you may ignore the noise, it`s counterintuitive as it indicates a problem with your vehicle. Leave it unattended for too long, and you may have a bunch of expensive repairs on your hands.
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If your suspension is making a squeaking or creaking noise when you go around corners, then this could point towards worn ball joints. Ball joints act as pivot points between the wheels and suspension and allow them to move freely.
The most likely cause of steering failure is a loss of power steering. This can happen if a hydraulic pipe breaks or is cut by debris from the road.
A steering wheel that feels loose may be caused by a damaged tie rod or ball joints that have become worn. Keep an eye out also for uneven tire wear and a clunking noise when you turn the steering wheel, especially at lower speeds. These signs should be taken seriously, as they could cause the steering to fail.
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.
Ordinarily, if there are rattling noises or noises from struts you can drive the car for a while while awaiting repair but if the noise has arisen because the strut mount is not secured to the top of the spring tower or the lower strut mount bolts to the steering knuckle are loose, that could be a problem.
You can continue to drive safely for up to 2 weeks with a squeaky belt. However, it`s best to not delay too long and replace it as early as possible.
High-Pitched Sounds

It might even be time for new brakes. Belts: If the squealing stops when the engine shuts down, your belt might be cracked or damaged. You may need a replacement or just an adjustment. Weatherstripping: A high-pitched whistling inside the cabin might be due to a leak in your weatherstripping.

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With high reliability ratings, minimal mechanical issues, and low maintenance cost, the RAV4 is a great vehicle to buy as used. The SUV offers a long list of standard safety features to keep you and your family safe. Many RAV4 drivers have reported getting 200,000 to 250,000 miles out of their SUVs.
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Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Very loud pop when turning sharp left leaking transmission or power steering fluid where steering column meet rack
ANSWER : Hi there. If everything else has already been installed from the donor vehicle then it sounds like the high pressure hose is all that you need to install. The hardest part of doing this is the routing. One thing you may also want to double check is that the donor vehicle and your 2003 Escape have the same rack. There are different models depending on the model and the size of your wheels. You need to install the pressure line first, but if it does not line up then you may have the wrong rack installed. If you would like some assistance installing this hose, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to you to [replace your high pressure steering hose] https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/power-steering-pressure-hose-replacement

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2011 Fusion power steering assist fault and service advancetrac at same time. restarted w/ no reset. drove 50mi w/ no steering wtf
ANSWER : Hello. The issue may not be incredibly complex or major. With newer vehicles being equipped with more complex diagnostic systems, it is not uncommon for one issue being related to two separate warning lights. The first step is to have the vehicle scanned for diagnostic codes. This can be done at most automotive parts stores or by a technician. Once you have that information you can make repairs or continue testing. Your vehicle in particular has a large number of sensors, one of which may need to be replaced. The repairs needed may be more complicated but there is no way to know until the codes have been scanned. For more help with diagnostics and repairs, contact our service department to schedule an appointment.

Read Full Q/A … : What’s wrong w/ my steering?

Power steering is hard, softens when I accelerate
ANSWER : Well given the symptoms, it sounds like the power steering pump is not putting out adequate pressure. When you replaced the power steering pump, did you use an OEM pump? If not, I would suggest having the power steering pressure checked, and replace the pump with an OEM pump if necessary to ensure the pump is good quality. Also, I know you said the pipes have been replaced, but does that include the pressure hose between the pump and the steering box? If not, that could be an issue as well.

You should also check the front end steering and suspension components, as a failing steering rod or ball joint could be binding, causing the steering to be stiff until it has enough pressure to overcome the bind.

If you want to have the steering problem thoroughly diagnosed, you can contact a qualified professional, such as one from YourMechanic.

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Problem with steering on one side only.
ANSWER : Hi there. The power steering system has a control valve that sends the fluid through the rack and pinion system. The valve maybe plugged up and causing the fluid to not return to the reservoir fast enough.

For the alignment issue, check all of the suspension and see what is loose or could be damaged. I recommend having an alignment performed on the vehicle after replacing any suspension or steering parts. If you need further assistance with your alignment, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

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Could the power steering pressure sensor cause my steering wheel to be hard or hard to steer?
ANSWER : Hello. The pressure switch (or "sensor") on your vehicle supplies a signal to the engine computer to increase engine idle speed as the power steering line pressure increases. If the switch were bad, what you would notice is the engine stalling or idle speed dropping very low as you turn the wheel toward the extreme left or right position.

If the engine is not slowing or stalling when you turn the wheel, then the switch is probably OK. Among the causes of excessive steering effort are very low tire pressure, low power steering fluid or trapped air in the system, damaged or loose power steering belt, and damaged steering rack.

If you would like to have this resolved, a certified professional from YourMechanic can diagnose your steering issue and follow through with needed repairs.

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Steering wheel won’t lock. Yellow steering lock warning on dash. Only comes on when removing fob.
ANSWER : Hi there. The issue seems to be the shifter interlock solenoid may be malfunctioning causing the steering wheel lock to not release or not engage.

I suggest having the computer scanned for any codes that would be stored or pending for the steering system as there is a warning light on for the steering lock system. This will give you the correct item to check when dealing with your steering wheel not locking. If you need further assistance with the steering wheel not locking, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

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Had the steering rack replaced and now the steering angle sensor is acting up after a front end alignment.
ANSWER : Hi there. If the codes are coming on for the steering angle due to either the sensor failing or the plug not plugged in all the way. Check the harness on the steering sensor and see if its plugged in. If the harness is plugged in and has not moisture on it, then the sensor has probably failed. You can have the vehicle realigned, but if the sensor has failed, it will not correct its self. I recommend replacing the steering angle sensor. If you need further assistance with the steering angle sensor, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

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When I turn at low speed the steering makes noise
ANSWER : Technical Service Bulletin T-SB-0318-08 (Rev2, dated April 16, 2012) specifically addresses this issue and the fix is a redesigned steering intermediate shaft. It is recommended that you take your vehicle to the Toyota dealership to address this issue, reference T-SB-0308-08 which refers to a newly designed steering gear which can also improve the reliability of the steering systems. Continuing to drive this vehicle will likely result in further damage to the steering system as well as increased difficulty in driving. Because it is a TSB and not a recall, do not expect a free repair, though some dealerships might offer it as a goodwill gesture. This is not specifically a power steering issue but a general steering issue.

Read Full Q/A … : What’s wrong w/ my steering?