It’s very important that you have the right amount of control for handling your vehicle. The steering wheel’s movement should be precise and smooth. Of course, as your steering components age, the precision that marked it originally will fade. There’s good news, though. If you have a truck or SUV, it can be adjusted in some cases.

Steering adjustments can be done by tightening the steering gear adjuster plug, also called the steering column adjuster plug. You’ll find this component in the steering gearbox. Tightening the plug ensures a more responsive steering system and helps to remove play from the wheel.

The steering gear adjuster plug is in use every time you turn the steering wheel, so wear and tear is a definite factor. Another consideration is moisture accumulation in the gearbox. This can lead to rust, corrosion and eventual failure. However, there really is no definitive lifespan for this part. More frequent use will lead to earlier failure.

Given the importance of the steering gear adjuster plug to the precision and smoothness of your steering system, it’s vital that you know a few symptoms to watch for that indicate the plug is wearing and/or about to fail. These include the following:

  • Steering wheel feels abnormally loose
  • There is lots of play in the steering wheel (you can turn it left and right without moving the wheels)
  • The steering wheel bounces back when turned
  • You notice power steering fluid leaking from the gearbox

If you’re experiencing any problems with your steering column adjuster plug, it may be time to have it checked. A certified mechanic can inspect your gearbox and steering system, and replace the steering gear adjuster plug if needed.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Steering Gear Adjuster Plug Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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