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Hit bottom front end, now stiff steering

Hey all,

So pulling into my works parking lot, I took it a little too fast and hit the bottom of my front end on the ground. I noticed that instantly my steering was a little harder, so after pulling in to a spot, I checked under the front and noticed this metal thing hanging down. I’ve been trying to find out what it is online, with no luck. Here are some pics from my crappy phone, and a sweet hand made drawing of its shape/general location:

it is metal and looks like its hollow maybe, comes down from the car by the right wheel, goes toward the left wheel but then it turns around and goes back up where it came from.

So first question is of course, what is that metal thing, and is it related to steering? I can just push it back up and get it behind a plastic protector thing, so it seems like it just popped out of place when my car hit the ground.

Second question is, what else could have broken that would have messed up my steering? It is stiff, but not to the point where it seems like I don’t have power steering. With the engine off, it’s really hard to turn the wheel, but just turning the engine on and still parked, turning is easy. Something else I’ve noticed is that there is a new noise that is present when I am not actively turning the wheel. If the wheel is actively turning, all I hear is the motor, but when the wheel is still, it is almost like a rubbing noise, but it’s hard to really describe. Also when driving, the wheel doesn’t seem to recenter if you let go of the steering wheel during a turn.

I drove it just down the street to lunch, there’s not much else that I experienced in terms of bumps or shaking, and power steering fluid seems to still be almost full, no fluids underneath the car either.

Ultimately, you are going to want to take this car to a repair shop to verify what you learn here and have any needed repairs made. I’m not entirely sure, but I think what you have there is a power steering line. Sometimes they will make a power steering line snake out around the front of the car and go back where it came from to allow some cooling of the fluid to take place. Sometimes there will even be heat sinks on the line. The line may have a kink in it now, which could make your steering more difficult due to reduced fluid flow. You will want to get this fixed if this proves to be the case as it could put added stress on the power steering pump, causing premature failure. Again, I’m not 100% sure on this, so you will want to have this verified by a mechanic in person.

Another possibility that crosses my mind is the possibility that your caster has been changed by this incident. If you change your caster angle, it can affect steering effort and return-to-center, although not in the way you describe it. Usually, caster too close to zero will make steering effort easier while reducing or eliminating return-to-center, and too far from zero will increase steering effort while increasing the steering’s tendency to return to center. This type of caster change is usually caused by a curb or parking block strike, which you didn’t mention, but if this has happened, it’s worth looking into these things.

I agree with mark, power steering fluid line. If you had included year, make, and model of the car someone could actually look up the part and compare.

I agree with mark9207. Looks like a power steering fluid line. Perhaps when you bottomed out the line got pinched or smashed and is no longer flowing fluid through it freely. That would explain increased steering effort, and may also cause your power steering pump to make a whining or whirring noise. Get this looked at and fixed before it turns into a power steering pump replacement.

This looks kind of like the lift and tow ring, but it is not supposed to be bent at that angle. If that is what it is, this didn’t just happen from a little bottoming out. You need to get this into a shop ASAP. BTW, do you have a teenage driver that has used this vehicle?

that does look like a ps cooler check the ps fluid make sure its toped off with the correct fluid for what ever kind of car this is.

Thanks everyone! I got it fixed yesterday, it was indeed the power steering cooling line. It got kinked and smashed when I hit the ground, messing up the power steering fluid pressure. The pump was audible after also, but I got it to the mechanic without any damage to the pump, so they just replaced the hoses and cooling line, everything is peachy now. Luckily it wasn’t gushing out fluid, so it was still full when I got to the shop.

Thanks for the feedback, glad you got it fixed.