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What Does a Steering Knuckle Do?

Published by: Nathan
Date of Publish:

Several factors ensure the smooth running and function of your car. If you are into an outdoor adventure, you will know how important is the suspension system for your car. Even if you use your vehicle for regular day-to-day use, something that plays a role of nexus between your car's axle system and steering system is called a steering knuckle. It has different names. Some mechanics call it steering knuckle, while others call it upright and even a wheel carrier. Like your steering system inputs for turning your car, steering knuckles provide a mounting point where wheels are connected to the suspension and receive the power, which converts into a pivotal force. In this blog, we will learn what exactly steering knuckles are, their role, and why broken steering knuckles are such a big deal?

What Is a Steering Knuckle, And What Is Its Importance?

If kept outside the car, the steering knuckle is not more than a chunky piece of steel with several protruding arms on its front. However, when put in its place, these steering knuckles connect to your wheel's suspension (spindle) and hold disc brakes. So, why are steering knuckles so important, and what will happen if they somehow break? Again, being the last part of your steering system, steering knuckles attach your wheels with the steering and help regulate the speed (via disc brakes) and direction of your wheels (via steering pivot). The Breaking down of steering knuckles can lead to the misalignment of your wheels which will apply direct pressure on the ball joints, which can fail and cause a sudden car accident.

What Is the Role of The Steering Knuckles in A Vehicle?

Steering knuckles are a vital part of the car suspension system that constitutes springs, linkages, and everything else that aids in road control and brake systems. Here are a few things about steering knuckles every car owner must know:


There are three main functions of a steering knuckle in a vehicle:

  1. It is used as a stub axle at the connection point between the tie rod and wheel.
  2. It also plays a vital role in connecting the lower and upper ball joints in vehicle suspension frames.
  3. It is used as a brake-caliper mount in the disk-brake systems of vehicles.


Steering knuckles usually continue to play their work part for a long-life span and typically last longer than the components they are attached to. This means steering knuckles don't get outlasted by the normal wear and tear of the vehicles. They are damaged as a result of direct collision harm or significant accidents.

How a Steering Knuckle Plays its Part in Your Car's Change Direction?

To begin with, your steering knuckle has three arms. Its top and bottom components are connected to your vehicle's suspension system with the help of ball joints. The lateral component of your steering knuckle is connected to the tie rod. The ball joints help steering knuckles maintain a vertical position while pivoting left and right.

Your vehicle's wheels have tie rods attached to them on both ends. When you turn the steering of your car, depending upon what direction you have turned it, these tie rods will either pull the lateral arm inward or push it outward. The action happens simultaneously. When one of the two lateral arms is pushed outwards, the other is automatically pulled inwards. As a result, both steering knuckles and front wheels turn in harmony. This is how steering knuckles play a pivotal role in turning your vehicle.

Why A Broken Steering Knuckle Should Ring Alarms?

Even though a steering knuckle is very sturdy and robust in its engineering and shape, there could be instances where you might have to come across a broken steering knuckle. Usually, the working life of a steering knuckle outlives your vehicle; there are a number of ways you could end up with one or both of your steering knuckles. This includes hitting a pothole, having a noticeable collision, and sliding into a curb. In all these cases, your steering knuckles will receive good damage and break. Your vehicle, too, might get disabled.

However, if your steering knuckles survive the hit and only get cracked or bent, it might look that your vehicle looks good to go for driving. However, driving your vehicle in such a condition is highly unrecommended, and there are several reasons behind it. Some of them are as follows:

  • Breaking or bending up your steering wheel will rip apart the alignment of your vehicle's tires. This will be followed by uneven tires and lesser control over your vehicle.
  • Failing your steering knuckles will put extra pressure on the ball joints, which might not be able to sustain that pressure and end up breaking suddenly too.
  • The moment your ball joints break, you will lose whatsoever control you have left over your car. A dangerous accident could be your fate in this case.

Therefore, it is recommended to keep a good check on your steering knuckles and always inspect them as soon as they begin to show any signs of damage.

What are the Signs Your Vehicle Will Give When the Steering Knuckle Is Damaged?

When we talk about inspecting your car's steering knuckles, we are not recommending lifting your vehicle up and removing its wheels and tires every other day. Of course, it is a hectic job. So, how do we know if the steering knuckles are working correctly, or do they require an inspection call? That is good news. Your vehicle will show signs that help you detect and catch the problem before the water gets over the head. Following are some of those symptoms:

  • If one of your vehicle's front wheels seems to be more tilted than another one,
  • If you feel a kind of squealing noise when turning the tires of your vehicle,
  • If the vehicle doesn't go perfectly straight and pull towards the right or left effortlessly,
  • If your vehicle's steering feels crooked, especially when you drive it at a higher speed in the straight direction,
  • If your vehicle offers more difficulty in turning towards one direction more than the other.
  • Lastly, the most authentic way to inspect whether or not your car's steering knuckles are bent or cracked is to inspect them and compare them with one another visually.

What to Do When You Know When Your Car's Steering Knuckle is Broken?

There are no questions about whether or not you should continue driving your vehicle when you come to know the steering knuckles are broken. Stop where you are, park it on the side of the road, and call for an abrupt replacement. However, if you keep your vehicle's tool kit along all the time and know the basics of how different components of your car are installed and uninstalled. Replacing a broken steering knuckle should not take more than a few hours. You can also search for a detailed tutorial and do the job more conveniently. Also, consider that replacing your car's steering knuckles will follow the alignment adjustment. Therefore, you must visit your mechanic soon after to get the alignment settings done.

Steering Knuckle Maintenance Tips/Suggestions

Since all the components of your vehicle work in an engineered collaboration, the maintenance of steering knuckles will be accompanied by maintaining and inspecting other parts that are connected to it or have an active role around it. Nonetheless, the following are the tips/suggestions that will help you maintain your steering knuckles primarily and your overall vehicle's health generally:

  1. Your vehicle's alignment is the first thing that will be affected by the lousy steering knuckles; therefore, it is suggested to get your vehicle's alignment done at least once in 12 months.
  2. The best criteria to follow in getting your car's alignment done to ensure that your steering knuckles are placed in the perfect place is to see whether their angles match the carmaker's design specifications.
  3. If you own a rear-wheel-drive vehicle like SUV, you need to get regular front-wheel bearing to look up and maintain your vehicle.
  4. This will benefit your wheels and steering knuckles as well-maintained bearings are likely not to seize.
  5. The ideal scenario is to get your vehicle's bearings inspected, maintained, cleaned, and repacked every 40,000 kilometers or 24 months.
  6. If your vehicle travels to marshy areas more often or has prolonged exposure to humidity and water, your bearings will call for frequent service and maintenance.
  7. Make sure you replace the wheel seals every time you service your wheel bearings.
  8. Lastly, it is recommended to consult a qualified and experienced service technician for high-quality service and professional advice on your vehicle's suspension and steering systems.


Whether your car's alignment feels a little off or turning more towards one direction than the other, your steering knuckles are to be blamed. These small and sturdy components connect your wheels with tie rods and play a significant role in your vehicle's suspension and steering system. If one of the steering knuckles is damaged, you are driving at risk of moving out of the alignment ultimately and suddenly breaking your ball joints. That's why maintaining and inspecting your steering knuckles regularly comes with its importance.

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