What is the Steering Damper all about?
Your steering and suspension system is a complex combination of different components. One of those components is the steering damper, or the steering stabilize (if you’re more familiar with that particular term). Regardless of what you call it, the part does the same thing. Its job is to stabilize the steering wheel, while mitigating travel (back and forth rotation while driving over bumps in the road) and vibration from the wheels and suspension system.
The steering damper works on the same principle as your struts and shocks, and like your struts and shocks, will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. When it does wear out and fail, you’ll notice that the vehicle’s handling becomes “sloppy”, and there’s a great deal more vibration transmitted to the wheel during driving.
Keep in mind:
- It’s a good idea to have the rest of your steering system inspected when the steering damper is replaced.
- Bushings, links, grommets and other components also wear out over time, and replacing them with the damper can save you an additional visit from the mechanic, as well as providing substantially improved handling.
How it’s done:
- The vehicle is raised and supported on jack stands
- The defective steering damper is removed from the steering linkage and frame
- The new steering damper is installed and connected to the steering linkage and frame
- The steering is exercised to make sure it operates smoothly without binding
- The vehicle is removed from jack stands and road tested for proper steering operation
Bear in mind that it’s impossible to inspect your steering damper during normal maintenance, so it’s important that you pay attention to the changes in your vehicle’s steering and handling. If you begin to notice that your car’s steering wheel feels loose or sloppy, that it travels back and forth a great deal over even minor bumps, or that the car is hard to steer, consider having your steering damper replaced.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Steering Damper?
- Back and forth travel of the steering wheel while driving over bumps or dips
- Difficulty in steering
- A feeling of looseness or “sloppiness” in the wheel
How important is this service?
While your car will still be drivable without a working steering damper, it can be uncomfortable and difficult to drive. This poses a safety risk, so replacing your steering damper when it fails (or begins to fail) is pretty important. However, this is a delicate task requiring a significant amount of knowledge regarding the complex steering system in your car. As such, we highly recommend that you only allow a professional mechanic to replace the steering damper.