Reasons for a Car Wheel to Lock Up

by Michael Scarn
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steering wheel and dash of british sports car image by Bo Widerberg from

Steering wheel columns are built with many different parts, including collars and dent springs. When any debris gets into the column or when a part malfunctions, the steering wheel can lock up and fail to turn. Additionally, the steering column will lock up when the car is turned off. Understanding why your steering wheel may be locking up will help you determine what you need to do to be able to turn your car's wheels again.

You Have a Stuck Valve in the Power Steering Column

A steering wheel can become locked after multiple sharp turns are made within a short period of time. The turns can cause the power steering pump to become stuck, making it very difficult, or even impossible, to turn your car's steering wheel.

You Have Debris in Your Steering Linkage

The steering linkage of your car is comosed of a series of arms, rods and ball sockets that connect your car's steering column to the steering knuckles. If debris gets into any of these linkage components, it will prohibit the steering wheel from turning.

Your Steering Wheel's Lock Is Engaged

Drivers may inadvertently engage the steering wheel lock on their car as they exit the vehicle by turning the steering wheel slightly to the left or right. The steering wheel lock is a security measure to prevent a would-be car thief from steering the car without the key. To release the lock, put your foot on the brake while simultaneously turning the steering wheel to the left and right and the ignition key to the right.

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