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Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Problems

If you are an owner of a Toyota Camry, you may at one time or another have had problems with your steering wheel. From controls not working, the steering wheel not being centered or hard to turn, to locking up while driving or even noise and shaking, these issues can be annoying and even dangerous when driving on the road. 

When a Toyota Camry’s steering wheel is not working properly, it could be due to low power steering fluid. The power steering system relies on this fluid to function smoothly, and a low level can lead to stiff or unresponsive steering. Check the power steering fluid reservoir and top it up if the level is low. Ensure to use the type of fluid recommended by Toyota for your specific Camry model.

Another common issue is a problem with the power steering pump. If the pump is failing, it may not provide adequate assistance to the steering system, making the wheel hard to turn. Listen for whining or groaning noises when turning the wheel, which can indicate pump issues. A failing power steering pump typically needs to be replaced.


Car front interior

If you are having a difficult time steering your Toyota Camry, it is a major safety issue and should be examined by a trained auto professional right away. There are a few things you can check first, but usually having a qualified professional examine your vehicle is the best step to driving your Camry safely. Keep reading to learn about common Toyota Camry steering wheel problems. 

Toyota Camry Steering Issues

Car steering wheel and touch screen console

If you are having problems with the steering wheel on your Toyota Camry, it could be faulty, damaged, or defective. The steering wheel is an essential part of your car in that it helps you maintain control of your vehicle, so you should not ignore the following warning signs that may indicate there is something wrong with the steering wheel.

  • Your vehicle pulls to the side when driving. The steering gear could be worn out or damaged. Pull over and check the vehicle for leaks of power steering fluid.
  • Your steering wheel is vibrating. There could be an issue with your car’s power steering or alignment and your car should be seen by a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • You have trouble turning the steering wheel. If your steering wheel is hard to turn, gets stuck, or does not want to move, you should check to see if the fluid canister is empty. If so, fill it right away and check for a fluid leak.
  • The steering wheel makes screeching or grinding noises when it turns. Your steering belt, which connects the power steering pump to the engine, could be loose or worn out, or the power steering liquid could be low.
  • The steering wheel does not steer accurately. You may have a loose wheel bearing, loose gear, or worn ball joints, which are all very dangerous.  

Those are just a few steering wheel problems that have been discovered with the Toyota Camry. Having a steering wheel that is hard to turn in particular has been a known issue, but there are reasons this may be occurring and solutions to the problem. Having a steering wheel that is hard to turn is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Hard to Turn

Two hands on top of steering wheel

It is disconcerting to try to drive your car only to not be able to turn your steering wheel. Having a steering wheel that is hard to turn is very dangerous and unsafe and should be dealt with immediately by a professional mechanic. This is because it is more than likely a problem with the power steering system, which can only be fixed by an expert. 

Your power steering system is what makes steering your car so easy, so without it working properly your wheel will be harder to steer. The system uses power steering fluid to create pressure against the wheels when you are turning your steering wheel. This pressure makes the wheel easy to maneuver while forcing the wheels to turn. 

Toyota Camry Steering Pump Failure

Your steering pump could be bad or there could be issues with the power steering belt or steering rack. The power steering system is driven by the power steering belt, so if it is loosened or broken, your power steering system cannot operate. The steering rack works in conjunction with your power steering system and is one of these five issues: 

  • Low or bad power steering fluid
  • Low tire pressure
  • Loose or broken power steering belt
  • Issues with the power steering rack
  • Bad power steering pump 

If your steering wheel is hard to turn, the simplest solution is that your power steering fluid is low and needs refilling. This is because this liquid puts pressure on your piston—the less fluid you have, the less force is applied to the piston. Another simple solution could be adding air to your tires since low tire pressure is sometimes a cause. 

Meet with a Mechanic for the Best Results

A qualified mechanic will examine your entire power steering system to figure out what exactly is making the steering wheel hard to turn.

If your car is low on power steering fluid or you have a damaged power steering belt, these are both fast and uncomplicated repairs that should not cost much. 

Toyota Camry Steering Rack Program

A damaged steering rack, on the other hand, can be more complex to fix and may be more costly to repair. Whatever the case may be, after the mechanic fixes the issue he or she will flush the power steering liquid to remove any contamination or sludge in the system. Then your car will be test-driven to make sure the problem was fixed. 

Toyota Camry Stiff Steering

When your Toyota Camry’s steering wheel is hard to turn, it is almost always going to be because of an issue with your power steering system. After a qualified mechanic fixes issues with this system, your car should be good to go with a steering wheel that is no longer hard to steer. That way you are not taking numerous tries to simply turn. 

Toyota Camry Power Steering Problems

It is nearly impossible to drive a car without power steering, so it is important to have these issues fixed by a professional. Having a steering wheel that is hard to turn should be examined immediately by a qualified mechanic because it is more than just an annoyance, but also a major safety problem. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Not Centered

Car front interior steering wheel

Usually, if your steering wheel is off-center, it is actually not a steering wheel problem at all, but a wheel issue. You will know that your wheel is off-center when the logo on the steering wheel is not straight. If your steering wheel is off-center even though you are driving perfectly straight, it is probably because your wheels are out of alignment. 

You will also know if your wheels are not aligned because of the following clues:

  • Your car will be pulling to the left or right.
  • You will have to keep correcting your car by constantly centering your steering wheel so that you stay straight on the road. 

In this case, it really is not a steering wheel issue at all but, instead, a wheel alignment issue. 

Having your wheels out of alignment could also wear down the tread on your tires unevenly because the misaligned wheels are bouncing up and down while driving on the road’s surface. This could get expensive because you will end up replacing your tires when you really just needed to go get your wheels aligned at the auto shop. 

Alignment issues can also cause suspension issues in your car since both your steering wheel and the wheels themselves are part of the car’s suspension. So, fixing your alignment is also important in that you do not want to have to pay more later to fix your automobile’s suspension down the road. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Locked Key Won’t Turn

Car interior steering wheel

There are many reasons why your ignition key will not turn, from simple causes like you have the wrong car key, or worse, you are in the wrong car (yes it happens!), to more complicated causes. The first thing to check is whether or not you mistakenly locked the steering wheel by turning it from side to side while turning the key to unlock. 

If turning the steering wheel from side to side while simultaneously turning the ignition key does not work, you may have a damaged or worn car key. There could also be a problem with your car’s ignition switch. In these two cases, the only fix will be to call the Toyota dealership and have the auto technicians examine what options you have. 

Luckily, many of today’s Toyota Camry’s have the push-to-start ignition function, eliminating the problem with the key ignition locking up. However, there have also been issues with this push function not starting the vehicle. In any case, these issues should be looked at by an auto technician immediately to figure out the problem.

If you cannot turn your car on, or off, with the ignition key, this will affect the steering wheel by locking it up and having it not be able to move. Since you cannot drive your car when the steering wheel is locked up, this needs to be fixed right away. However, there are a few other reasons why your steering wheel may lock up. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Locked While Driving

Driver with one hand on steering wheel

As noted above, a steering wheel can hopefully come unlocked by simply moving it from side to side while also turning the ignition key at the same time. However, if your steering wheel locks up while you are driving it could be much deadlier.

You do not want to be moving your steering wheel from side to side while driving on the highway. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Won’t Turn

If you are driving and notice your steering wheel has locked up, you will need to think quickly about how to alleviate the situation. There are certain situations in which a steering wheel is meant to lock up, such as to prevent your car from moving when you do not have a key in the ignition. If it locks up while driving, however, it could be these causes: 

  • The car’s ignition locked up. As discussed above, your ignition can lock up and, if driving, can be a very dangerous situation. Mechanics call this situation a “sudden lock up.”
  • You made sharp turns. If you make too many sharp turns in your vehicle, it could affect your car’s transmission system and lock your steering wheel. It could also cause your power steering pump to stick and lock up your steering wheel when driving.
  • There is an issue with your power steering pump. Here is another time when the issue could be your power steering pump. If your power steering pump jams up suddenly, your steering wheel will lock up while driving. 

Any of these causes are cause for concern and need to be handled by a professional immediately.

Toyota Camry Steering Tight

All three causes above can put you in a precarious situation while driving. If the steering wheel is tight and you cannot turn it appropriately, you are putting yourself in danger on the road. It should be dealt with immediately by a professional so that the steering is no longer tight to drive.

Once you have a mechanic determine which of the three is the cause, you can then find the right fix. It could be replacing your car’s power steering pump or the ignition switch system, cleaning out the steering wheel column, or using power steering lubrication oil. 

A simple solution could also be to not take so many sharp turns while driving, but your steering wheel locking up is more than likely an issue with the power steering pump or the car’s ignition and should be fixed by a professional mechanic. Routine maintenance can also help you avoid issues like this since your alignment will be regularly checked. 

Toyota Camry Steering Shaft Problems

If your turning is not smooth or precise, it could also be steering shaft problems. To test this, you can simply feel the steering wheel and see if the wheel is not feeling as firm as it should be when driving. Your Toyota Camry’s steering wheel should be tight and precise when steering and smooth when turning. Other concerns of the shaft are:

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  • No longer turning smoothly
  • Sounds that are concerning while driving
  • Steering wheel does not go back into position automatically

Although the three signs above can be other issues with your Toyota Camry, having a mechanic check for steering shaft issues is a good first step.

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Making Noise

Car steering wheel and touch screen console

One of the most annoying problems with a Toyota Camry steering wheel is when it squeaks or screeches while driving. This could be a failure in the power steering system if the power steering pump or belt is compromised.

Since the power steering controls the wheels through either electric or hydraulic actuators, the noise may start there. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Controls Not Working

If you have a hydraulic system, there is a belt connected to the engine that powers the hydraulic pump that sends the fluid to assist you to turn the wheel. If you have an electronic system, a small electric motor helps turn the wheel. When this power steering system fails, operating the steering wheel becomes difficult and noise may occur. 

The same issues that may make your steering wheel hard to turn could also be the cause of the squealing or screeching noises coming from your steering wheel. A worn-out belt could cause a squealing noise when you turn your steering wheel because it can affect the pressure of the fluid that powers the steering pump and even make it fail. 

Low power steering fluid could also be the culprit of squealing noise when turning your steering wheel. It could also be something more serious, like a failing power steering pump, which would also cause squealing or screeching when turning the wheel. This is because the seals and other parts of the pump may not be working properly. 

Toyota Camry Steering Column or Pump Noise

The size of the Toyota Camry has definitely gotten larger over the years, and with this increase in size has come the propensity of warped front rotors. The brake rotor is an iron disc-like device that is connected to the tire’s hub. The brake rotors are quite important in that they work alongside the brake pads to help stop your vehicle. 

Your disc brake system is comprised of three components: 

  • Rotors
  • Pads
  • Calipers 

Each system has brake fluid that hydraulically-operates the caliper to apply pressure using the pads against the rotor. If the front brake rotors become warped, the entire disc brake system is affected and can cause the squealing you hear in the steering wheel. Other annoying noises that may occur are grinding, rattling, and squeaking. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Shakes When Driving and Braking

Driver with two hands on steering wheel

The final issue that can make a Toyota Camry difficult or impossible to drive is a shaking steering wheel.

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This is a primary sign that something is wrong with your Camry while also making your driving experience stressful and frightening. Unless you are driving on a very bumpy road, your steering wheel should drive smoothly. 

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Vibration

There could be numerous reasons why your steering wheel is shaking, and you should look for clues to figure out what needs to be fixed. Once you notice your steering wheel shaking, you should not let it get any worse. You should look for signs to figure out what a mechanic should look into to fix this annoying problem: 

  • Your tires are out of alignment. As discussed earlier, when your tires are out of alignment this will affect the steering wheel. This may be the culprit if you only notice your steering wheel shaking when driving at high speeds, not low speeds.
  • Issues with the brake rotors. Just like a squealing steering wheel, the brake rotors can also make your steering wheel shake. If they become warped or worn out, you will feel the vibrations through the steering wheel.
  • Worn out suspension components. Since the suspension and alignment are connected, suspension issues can also cause your steering wheel to shake while you are driving.
  • Bad bearings. Bad bearings or insufficient lubrication can cause friction, which will then cause your steering wheel to shake. If the bearings are at fault, you will feel the steering wheel shake when you are turning the wheel. 

These problems should be seen by a mechanic or Toyota dealership service center immediately.

Toyota Camry Steering Wheel Replacement

The main thing you should do if you have a shaking steering wheel in your Toyota Camry is go to the dealership or an automotive garage immediately. In most cases, your shaking steering wheel will be caused by your misaligned or unbalanced wheels. This can be an inexpensive fix as long as it is caught quickly and fixed by a professional. 

Will you need to actually replace your Toyota Camry steering wheel? Most likely not. Usually, signs with your steering wheel are actually signs of another problem in your vehicle, not with the steering wheel itself.

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KnowMyAuto is the sole owner of this article was published on Jun 8, 2021 and last updated on .