If your truck or SUV is equipped with larger tires and wheels than the manufacturer intended, you need a steering stabilizer to reduce wobble and feedback at the steering wheel. The immense amount of weight added to the front of your vehicle puts significant strain on the steering and suspension, and can result in what’s called a “death wobble”. It can be frightening, and it can actually cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
A steering stabilizer stop is installed to help reduce or eliminate this wobble – it looks a lot like a strut used for normal vehicle suspensions, but it’s smaller and designed to fit into your steering system. It uses compressed fluid to dampen vibration and wobbling. Just like your regular shocks and struts, your steering stabilizer is subjected to a lot of wear and tear. It’s in use anytime you’re on the road. That means a lot of potential for damage.
The primary cause of concern with a steering stabilizer stop is wear to the seals that keep the pressurized fluid inside (allowing the stabilizer to do its job). Like your shocks and struts, once the seal fails, fluid will leak out and you’ll need to replace the stabilizer.
While there’s no specific lifespan for these parts, they’re not known for their longevity and are considered a normal maintenance item. Additionally, you may need to replace yours more frequently if you have very large wheels and tires installed, or regularly take your vehicle off road.
Once the steering stabilizer fails, you’ll begin experiencing excessive vibration and wobble at the wheel. This can be incredibly dangerous, so it’s important that you know a few signs and symptoms to watch for. These include:
- Increasing vibration at the steering wheel
- A violent wobbling of the steering wheel
- The steering wheel feels loose (can also be an indication of a steering rack problem)
- Steering feels “choppy” or imprecise
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to have the steering stabilizer stop inspected as soon as possible by a professional mechanic.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Steering Stabilizer Stop Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.