Why Is My Subaru’s Steering Wheel Locked Up?

Why Is My Subaru’s Steering Wheel Locked Up?

A locked steering wheel on your Subaru is a dismaying problem when you’re parked, and if you’re driving when it happens, it can lead to an accident. Our Subaru mechanic in Raleigh is breaking down what causes your steering wheel to lock up and what you can do about it. 

What It Means When Your Steering Wheel Is Locked When You’re Parked

First, let’s look at what causes your steering wheel to lock when it’s off or parked, as these are often less serious issues, but much more common.

Wheels Turned When Parking

If you go to turn your car on and not only is the wheel not turning but the ignition is locked, most likely, when you were parking you turned the steering wheel too much. This can lock the wheel, but it’s easy to fix. First, put your key in the ignition and gently try to turn it as far as it will go without putting too much pressure, otherwise the key will break. Jiggle the steering wheel a little left to right then try and jiggle the key a bit. Both parts will unlock with a little trial and error and you’ll be on your way. 

Your Safety System Is Triggered

If you move your steering wheel while the key is not in the ignition, it will lock up as part of an anti-theft measure. This prevents anyone who may try and “hotwire” the car from being able to steer it. Like above, simply move the steering wheel a bit while turning the key. 

Worn Ignition Cylinder

You’ve tried jiggling the key a bit while turning the wheel and nothing happens while it’s parked. This is when it’s most likely an actual problem with your Subaru. The ignition signals the steering wheel to unlock, so if it’s not working, and the key isn’t going in, the cylinder may need to be replaced. If you do get the car started, before leaving, try turning the car off after a few minutes. If it struggles to turn, you should take it to a Subaru mechanic to look at it before you try to drive it somewhere. 

What It Means When Your Steering Wheel Locks Up When You’re Driving

While it’s not as common, having your steering wheel lock up while you’re driving is a much more serious issue. No matter what the cause is, it’s important to stop in a safe location as quickly as you can to prevent an accident.  

Sharp, Frequent Turns

If you often take turns quickly and abruptly, this may cause your car’s transmission and engine to malfunction, locking your steering wheel. It usually works itself out shortly, so try not to panic, and just work on holding the vehicle steady until you can safely pull over. Going forward, take your turns slowly to avoid jamming up your wheel.

Power Steering Failure

Your power steering makes it possible to easily turn your car. Otherwise, you’re turning a mostly-metal vehicle by sheer muscle. If the power steering goes out, you should be able to turn the wheel enough to safely pull over to the side of the road and call for a tow truck. This also could be a sign you need engine repair as your power steering is powered from the engine. Again, if the engine dies, try to coast to the side of the road and stop the car in a safe location.

Steering Column Failure

While rare, this is another reason your Subaru’s steering wheel locked up while driving. Just as we mentioned, you’ll need a mechanic to fix the issue, and in the meantime, focus on pulling over to the side of the road in a safe location where you can call for help. 


Bring Your Vehicle to Our Raleigh Subaru Mechanic

If your steering wheel is locked and you aren’t sure what to do, we can help! We work on all types of import vehicles, including Subarus and have the experience and knowledge necessary to troubleshoot the problem, fix it, and get your car back on the road in no time.Schedule an appointment today by calling us at 919-324-3019 or fill out our contact form.  



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