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Why does the steering in my 2012 Audi Q5 feel stiff?

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I have an Audi Q5, 2012, with 132,000km. A new transmission and engine were fitted about five years ago. The steering seems to be quite stiff, not concerningly stiff, but seems to be progressively getting stiffer. Any ideas of what this could be? Steering rack? Power-steering fluid? I want to understand so I have something of an idea when I bring it to the mechanic as they sometimes mess you about if you go in with no clue.

The first thing to figure out is which version of the 2012 Q5 you have. See, in that year, Audi updated the Q5 and, in the interests of fuel saving, changed from a conventional hydraulic power-steering system to an electro-mechanical one. Each system has the potential to give problems, but for very different reasons. The change came in late 2012 (December) so your car is probably the earlier one, but a check of the build-plate will tell all.

In the case of normal power-steering, low fluid can cause the problems you've noted and is also likely to make the power steering noisy when you turn the wheel. In the electro-mechanical system, the fault could be with the electric motor that powers the steering assistance. In both cases, wear in the actual steering rack can cause the same symptoms. Either way, it needs to be checked by a specialist, as a car's steering is obviously a crucial system.

But before you do that, have the car's wheel alignment checked at a tyre shop. A car that is out of whack can sometimes exhibit very strange steering characteristics. And what about the absolute basics? When did you last check your tyre pressures? Low tyre pressure can also make the steering heavier than it should be. And it doesn't matter that you haven't had a flat tyre for years; tyres lose about one psi per month, just sitting in the driveway. That's why they need to be pressure-checked every few weeks.

Disclaimer: You acknowledge and agree that all answers are provided as a general guide only and should not be relied upon as bespoke advice. Carsguide is not liable for the accuracy of any information provided in the answers.


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