Why BMW steering wheel is stiff

BMW steering wheels tend to be much stiffer than other cars. BMW’s intended steering wheel aims to increase the accuracy of driving. With a light steering wheel, it is much harder to guess with precision where the front tyres are pointing, whereas stiffer steering wheels give the driver great control.

BMW Steering wheels have less power assistance

Although light steering makes a car much easier to drive it makes it a lot less accurate on bumpy roads or at higher speeds. And since BMWs are designed to bring sheer driving pleasure to the owner, they also tend to focus on higher speed performance, comfort and feel on the road.

This is the main reason why BMW went with steering wheels with less power assistance on most of their vehicles. Many features that might seem counterintuitive on other vehicles at first are genuinely designed for performance and speed on BMWs

How to tell if your steering wheel is stiffer than usual?

Despite BMWs generally having much stiffer steering wheels than other cars, they can also get even stiffer if something malfunctions or breaks. BMWs are typically running their steering wheels backed up with a power steering system. And although the system is intentionally made a lot stiffer than other brands, it can still get even worse if something malfunctions.

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If your car is experiencing one of the following issues, you would most likely need to visit a mechanic.

  • You are hearing squealing or screeching sounds when you turn the wheel regardless of the speed you are driving.
  • The steering is more dynamic than usual, sometimes you find it easy to steer, then it becomes much harder right away, without a change in driving speed. Erratic behaviour of the power assistance.
  • If you see puddles, stains or drips on your driveway or garage floor.
  • If the steering fluid is low.

If you are experiencing one of these but you are still not sure what the issue with the system is and you are enthusiastic about figuring it out yourself then start by diagnosing the system. In order to do so, the first thing to do is to:

  1. Check the steering fluid level. To do so, unscrew the cap on the pump and take a look at the level inside, if it’s not full to the max, refill it according to the instructions on the manual of the fluid.
  2. Inspect the hoses and lines of the pump. Any signs of damage and you should visit a mechanic.
  3. If something is leaking, consider visiting the mechanic as soon as possible.
  4. If you hear a loud squealing sound, a slipping drive belt might be the issue causing it.

The parts of a power steering system

A Power Steering System is slightly complex but it is devised only of four parts. If you are experiencing any issues with steering more than usual, then most likely the issues arise due to one of these parts being faulty.

Power Steering Pump

A power steering pump is a straightforward machine, which is moved by the engine’s belt with the help of a pulley system. There is also another device that is a part of the pump – the rotary valve, which detects the force on your steering wheel and allows the system to know how much assistance you need to make a turn. This is why the steering system is often referred to as dynamic.

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The faster you drive, the more fluid the system pumps into the vanes that retract and spin inside the oval-shaped chambers of the power steering pump. There is also a pressure-relief valve, that is meant to make sure that the vanes don’t get too pressurized.

Engine Belt

The belt runs to the steering pump from the crankshaft. Some vehicles have multiple ones, others have only one. If one of the belts breaks or tears apart, you will most likely experience steering failure.

Fluid Levels

Ensure to check the steering fluid and its level. If it is low, you will most likely fail to maintain pressure in the system. The power steering fluid is the main resource of the power steering system. Without it, it won’t run.

Check the hoses

Make sure to always have clear hoses and that the lines are sound. If you see any cracks or have a feeling that the hoses are clogged, you need to visit a mechanic as soon as possible, since that would lead to major malfunctions.


Typically, tires also play a big role in how easy it is to turn a vehicle’s wheels. The bigger the wheels for a particular vehicle, the harder it would be to turn them around, regardless of the power steering system that assists you. BMW has decided to sacrifice the comfort of a light steering wheel in order to achieve a much more stable car at high speeds and to give the drivers the feedback they want on the road.

Knowing exactly what your front wheels are doing at any moment can be the difference between enjoying driving the car or not. And BMW is all about pleasure.

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Why do BMW cars feel smooth at higher speeds?

BMW produces cars that aim to bring sheer driving pleasure, thus they optimise their vehicles for higher speeds with stiffer steering wheels, chassis dynamics and a much better understanding of weight balance. Moreover, the suspension and the wheel-tire packages play major roles in putting BMW cars where they are on the food chain in terms of driving comfort.

What is the most common reason why your BMW’s steering could get stiffer?

With BMW vehicles, the steering is usually much stiffer than other cars, mainly because the power assist is lower. If you feel like your car’s power steering has broken, the most common cause for that with BMW cars is a fluid leakage, coming out of over-pressurized hose area, leading to a significant lack of power steering fluid in the system of your car. If you see any leaks, visit a mechanic.

What to know about BMW problems and issues.

Dan Gurbalov

Why do you love cars? I love the sound of most gasoline engines. I love the smell too.

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