Steering Issues

I have seen similar issues discuss, but have not seen the same “solution” mentioned when discussed.

I have a Jeep Liberty 2002 Sports. When it is cold and the car has been sitting for a while, when I start the car, the steering wheel is locked or hard to move. I have not tried to force it. But it will move if I rev the engine to a certain point. Once I rev the engine I can move the steering wheel again. I have left the car to warm up before revving the engine, but this does not help with the steering, I have to rev the engine in order to “unlocked” the wheel.

Does anyone have any recommendations or ideas?


Have you ever had the power steering fluid changed? It has been 12+ years. It may also be a sign of a weak power steering pump.

If “cold” means well below freezing, you may have moisture in your power steering system that’s freezing. Follow Busted’s advice and try changing out the PS fluid.

How old is your serpentine belt? Is the tensioner working?

The very first thing I’d do is check the power steering fluid level

Then make sure the belt has sufficient tension, isn’t glazed, chunking, etc.

Which is it? Locked? Or hard to move? Locked would be what it feels like when you park and turn it off an remove the key and try to turn it - it will clunk back and forth but is mechanically blocked from turning. Hard to move? See the above.

That’s called morning sickness.

Don’t any of you people remember the early GM vehicles with rack & pinion steering with this problem?

The spool valve/seals shrink in the cold. This allows the the power steering fluid to by-pass the seals/spool valve when the rack & pinion is cold. When you rev the engine, the power steering pump spins faster. This causes the fluid to heat up so the spool valve/seals expand to where the hydraulic pressure is directed properly to the pistons in the rack & pinion assembly.

Here’s the seal kit for your rack & pinion assembly.

The four skinny seals are the spool valve seals.

But I would replace the rack & pinion assembly. Because you don’t know if the spool valve seals have worn grooves in the rack & pinion assembly bore.


Tester, I have to admit that I don’t even remember what I did yesterday…
But I tip my hat to you. I’d still try fresh PS fluid first, however. If it doesn’t help, then I’d go for a rebuilt rack. Those buggers are expensive.