The steering wheel is the primary control mechanism for driving a Tesla. However, when it becomes stiff or difficult to turn, it can render the car unusable.
So, why is my Tesla steering wheel hard to turn? If you’re wondering about this issue, it is commonly caused by a faulty EPS rack assembly, the Steering Mode set to the Sport option, a corroded U-joint link, firmware bugs, or a defective steering column.
To resolve this problem, you will need to replace certain parts, update the software, adjust the Steering Mode setting, and lubricate the U-joint link. Continue reading to learn more about the detailed troubleshooting process.
Tesla Steering Wheel Hard to Turn: Causes and Fixes
There are a lot of reasons for the Tesla steering wheel not turning smoothly. Let me share the root causes behind this issue below:
Cause #1: Failed EPS (Electrical Power Steering) Rack
EPS or EPAS (Electrical Power-Assistant System) is Tesla’s power steering that sends signals to ECU to the motor when you use the wheel. But, if this system’s rack assembly fails, the steering wheel may feel tight. And so, it gets hard to turn it to left or right.
This can also occur due to a loose electrical connector. Whatever the reason is, it will cause the steering wheel to not steer smoothly.
Cause #2: Steering Mode Is Set to Sport
The Tesla steering settings offer 3 options to select which are Sport, Standard, and Comfort. If you change the settings to Sport, the steering wheel may feel a little stiffer to move.
Cause #3: Rusted U-Joint Link
Sometimes the Tesla steering wheel stiffness occurs due to decay on the U-joint (I-shaft link). It’s a part that continuously faces mud, snow, salt, rain, and so on. After a long time, this component can get corroded.
And when this happens, turning the steering wheel may feel like a hard job no matter how much force you use.
Cause #4: Firmware Issue
A lot of times the Tesla steering wheel’s weight gets heavier to turn when a firmware problem arises. To fix the firmware bugs, Tesla push a software update to the car which causes the steering wheel to get stiffer.
Cause # 5: Broken Steering Column
If the Tesla steering wheel vibrates and doesn’t move properly, it indicates the steering column is damaged. In that case, you’ll find the steering to get stiffer and sometimes stuck.
Troubleshooting Steering Wheel That Is Hard to Turn
Based on the causes of hard steering in the Tesla, it’s the right time for you to solve the issue. Let’s get started:
Fix #1: Change EPS Rack Assembly
You’ll need to contact Tesla Service Center to replace the failed EPAS or EPS rack assembly from the front trunk. As this is a difficult task, it’s best to replace the components via an expert instead of trying the DIY technique.
It will cost around $3000 – $4,500 on TSC (including part, labor, and tax costs). However, this will charge less under warranty service. Before that, here’s how to schedule the appointment with TSC:
- Open the Tesla app.
- Then, hit on the Service > Schedule Service option.
- Based on the part’s type, select Others, and mention the part’s name. If needed, you can attach the photo. Then, click on Next.
- After that, select a date and time for the appointment and hit on Next > Schedule Service.
Project Time: 40 minutes.
Fix #2: Change Steering Mode to Comfort or Standard
To adjust the feel and sensitivity of the steering wheel system, change the Steering Mode to either Comfort or Standard. Here’s the instruction:
1. Go to the screen and click on Controls > Pedals & Steering / Driving > Steering Mode.
2. Then, touch on Comfort (lessens the force required to turn the wheel) or Standard (average force need to rotate the wheel).
Fix #3: Lubricate or Replace the Steering U-joint Link
To begin with, go to the touchscreen and select Controls > Suspension > Jack mode. Then, select Controls > Service > Tow Mode.
After that, get out of the car and take out the tires from the front sides after detaching the lug bolts using a 21mm lug socket.
Next, locate the U-joint (I-shaft) link inside the wheel (near the wheelbase). Now, inspect its condition and take action.
- If it seems okay but a little rusted or dirty, then you’ll need to use a lubricant on the part to remove the corrosion. After that, reinstall all the parts by doing the reverse process.
- If the U-joint link seems bad in condition, swap the part on TSC which will cost around $700 under warranty. In extended warranty, it will cost around $5,300 or less.
Fix #4: Update the Latest Software
To update the Tesla, simply go to Controls > Software and scroll down to locate the section called Update Available in the touchscreen.
Then, click on Software Update with an orange/red clock sign. Next, set the time if you want to install at a different time and then click on Schedule or directly hit on Install Now option. After that, wait for it to install completely and then restart the car.
Fix #5: Change Steering Column
To begin the process, power off the car (Controls > Security > Power Off). Next, open the front trunk to unplug the 12V battery connector and power plug.
Then, you’ll need to get inside the car and insert the pin puncher on the left and right holes behind the steering wheel.
After that, pull the airbag module from the front and unplug all the connectors (yellow and maroon/purple shade ones).
Next, remove the core bolt that holds the steering wheel to the column using the proper tool. Now, take out the wheel and pull the steering column using little hand force.
Then, detach the yellow plug from the column and insert it into the new column. After that, insert all the parts by doing the opposite of removal.
Still wondering why your Tesla steering wheel is hard to turn? Don’t worry, you can fix the issue yourself by updating the software, lubricating the U-joint link, and adjusting the Steering Mode setting.
However, there are some fixes that require the help of TSC as it’s a matter of OEM parts (which you can’t find elsewhere).
And I suggest not changing the steering column and EPS steering rack assembly using non-OEM parts. If you do so, it will violate the warranty. So be smart and fix the bugs without delay.