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When to turn the steering wheel

  • By Graham Smith
  • Herald Sun

McPherson, Mount Clear, Qld.

Q

Years ago when power steering was not known on everyday cars, my father told me when teaching me to drive not to turn the steering wheel if possible unless the car was moving. Today, with the advent of power steering and even smaller car parking bays, it seems almost impossible to not turn the steering wheel without the car moving. Does the turning of the steering wheel without the car moving cause wear on the steering and front-end and for that matter the tyres? Should it be avoided if possible? Also, in the wear and tear area, how long should we leave our automatic transmissions in drive when our cars are caught, for example in traffic jams when they can be stationary for some minutes. Is there wear on automatic transmissions and for that matter engines by not changing to neutral when the car is caught stationary for periods of time?

Graham Smith
Ask Smithy

A

It's best to be moving when turning the wheel; the load on the steering will then be lower. As for wear, it won't have a huge effect because we don't do it very often, or for very long when it happens. Leaving the auto transmission in drive for long periods isn't a good idea, the transmission gets hot, so too does the engine, and throwing things like air-conditioning into the equation makes it even tougher on the engine. Leaving it in drive for a minute or two when stuck in stationary traffic is ok, but I would be taking it out of drive if you're sitting there for an extended period, that's more than two or three minutes.

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