Updated at: 30-05-2022 - By: Lucas

You expect it to be easy to turn the wheel of your car when you’re driving it. Since the power steering pump became more common, consumers have come to expect nothing less.

Not being able to quickly and easily turn the steering wheel isn’t just inconvenient; it’s also dangerous. But why is it hard to turn your steering wheel, and how do you fix it?

Keep reading, and we’ll show you everything you need to know, whether you want to fix it yourself or just want to know more so you don’t get ripped off at the dealership.

1. Power Steering Pump Malfunction

It’s what made it easy to turn, so it makes sense that if it’s hard to turn, it might be your power steering pump.

Small problems can happen with power steering pumps, but if the pump itself is bad, it usually stops working all at once. If that’s the case, you’ll know right away, and it will be easier to turn once you’re moving. But if you try to turn the wheel while you’re not moving, it will be very hard and a heck of a workout.

It’s the most common reason why it’s hard to turn your steering wheel, so that’s where you should start looking for the problem.

Repair and Average Cost

If you know what you’re doing, changing your power steering pump isn’t too hard. Before you can put on the new one, you’ll have to take off the serpentine belt, remove some hoses, and loosen the bolts.

Even though it’s usually not hard to do, the cost of a power steering pump depends a lot on what you drive. They can cost anywhere from $60 to $400, and that’s just for the parts. You will also need to buy power steering fluid, but you usually don’t need much of it.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle and just take it to a shop, the repairs could cost anywhere from $150 to $650, depending on the type of power steering pump you need and how hard it is to get to.

2. Power Steering Fluid Needs Replacing

Close up image of female driver hands on the steering wheel. Red

If your power steering has stopped working, it goes without saying that you need to check your power steering fluid. When your power steering pump is almost out of fluid, it’s usually not just hard to steer. As the power steering pump struggles to work, you’ll also hear a loud noise coming from your engine bay.

If your power steering fluid is low, you need to get it fixed and filled up right away. That’s because running a power steering pump with fluid is not only inefficient and noisy, but it can also cause your power steering pump to burn out, which will cost you even more money in repairs.

Repair and Average Cost

Even though the power steering fluid is cheap and you can usually get more than you need for less than $15, it’s what’s causing the leak that can really cost you. If the power steering pump is leaking, you should probably just replace it, but if you’re lucky, you might be able to find a seal kit for it.

If that’s the case, you can save some money on the pump, but the kits usually cost about $20. You could also have a loose or broken hose. Most of the time, these parts aren’t very expensive, but if you don’t know much about mechanics, it might be hard to find the leak.

3. Inadequate Tire Pressure

If the problem is low tyre pressure, turning will be much easier than if your power steering pump broke. Unless the tyre pressure is very low, like when you have a flat tyre, you probably won’t notice any difference in how easy it is to turn the wheel.

Still, if you have a little trouble turning the wheel, get out of the car and check the tyre pressure just to be safe!

Repair and Average Cost

If all you want is air, it’s the best thing that could happen because it’s free. But if you need to replace one of your tyres, which is more likely, it will cost you at least $100, and if you get a high-quality brand, it could cost you as much as $400.

Remember that both tyres on the same axle should always be changed at the same time. So, they wear out at the same rate. Most tyre shops will cover the cost of changing your tyres when they sell you new ones, but if they don’t, it’s usually less than $100.

4. Damaged or Missing Serpentine Belt

Steering Wheel Hard To Turn-2

Your power steering pump is driven by a serpentine belt, so if it breaks or goes missing, you won’t have power steering. Even though this isn’t a very expensive fix, you need to get it done right away.

Even though it is one of the most obvious, your power steering pump is not the only part that is driven by a belt. Your serpentine belt runs some of the parts of your car, like the water pump, air compressor, and alternator.

You shouldn’t try to drive the car anywhere until you’ve changed the serpentine belt and made sure everything is working right.

Repair and Average Cost

Most vehicles can use serpentine belts, which are cheap and easy to put on. Most belts cost less than $100, but be aware that even if your belt wasn’t old, something may have caused it to break. Before putting on a new belt and possibly snapping it right away, you should make sure that your pulleys aren’t stuck.

5. Loose or Damaged Rack and Pinion

Rack and pinions that are loose or broken will show signs that are completely different from everything else we’ve talked about here. Even if it’s not hard to turn the steering wheel with your hands, it can still be hard to turn the car.

If your rack and pinion are loose, your steering wheel will usually have some play, and when it does move, you might hear a clunk. But if something is stuck against it, the only signs you might have are noises coming from the rack and pinion and trouble turning it.

If that’s the case, you should get it fixed as soon as possible, or else you’ll start to have other problems.

Repair and Average Cost

It’s the most expensive choice, but also the least common. The cost of a new rack and pinion is between $200 and $500, and it takes a lot of work to put in a new one. Even after the swap is done, you’ll still need an alignment, which will add to the cost.

This is why if you take it to a shop, replacing your rack and pinion will cost you between $1,400 and $2,000 more than if you did it yourself. Even if the rack and pinion are loose or broken, it’s usually not hard to turn the steering wheel.

Troubleshooting Tips

This step-by-step guide won’t give you all the information you need, but it will point you in the right direction.

  1. Is it hard to turn?

If you’re stopped and it’s hard to turn the wheel, the problem is probably with your power steering pump, serpentine belt, or fluid levels. This is especially true if it gets a lot easier to turn the wheel as you drive.

Open the hood, look at the fluid levels, and then decide what to do next. If your fluid levels are right and your serpentine belt is still on, it’s probably your power steering pump.

 2. Do you hear anything?

Listen to the noise. If you can find out where it’s coming from, you’re one step closer to figuring out how to fix it. It could be a grinding sound coming from a wheel, which would indicate that the air pressure is too low, or it could be a clunking sound coming from under the car, where the rack and pinion are.

When you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with a car, sound and touch are your two most important tools. If you use them right, you can find almost any problem.

  1. Have you noticed any holes?

The fluid in your power steering and the oil in your rack and pinion shouldn’t go anywhere. So, if you see fluid pooling in your driveway or under your car, that’s a clear sign that something is wrong. If you can find the fluid and where it’s coming from, it’s likely that you’ve found the problem.


When it gets harder and harder to turn your steering wheel, it can be very frustrating. Even worse, it is very dangerous. Whether you need to change lanes quickly or make a quick turn, the last thing you should worry about is whether or not you’ll be able to turn the wheel.

The good news is that it’s not too hard to figure out what’s giving you trouble if you know what to look for, do some research, and put in some effort.