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What to Look for When Buying a Steering Column

Knowing When to Replace Your Steering Column
The steering column is the device that connects the steering wheel to the steering mechanism.  It transfers the torque produced by the driver from the steering wheel to the steering mechanism.  The steering column can become faulty and need replacement.  If the internal seals and boots get damaged, fluid may leak out and dirt may get in, causing clogging.  This in turn can cause the steering to stay locked in place after a turn and to not return smoothly to the straight position when you apply gas.  Another sign of a bad steering column is when you have to turn the steering wheel almost completely to make a right or left turn.  Stiff steering in the morning and looseness in steering can also be signs of a steering column that needed replacement.

Identifying the Correct Replacement Steering Column
When replacing your steering column, it is important to make sure that you first know the make, model, and VIN of the car, as well as the interchange number of the steering column.  Having this information will help to make sure that you buy the correct replacement steering column.  The interchange or part number is a unique identifying number found on each car part.  Sometimes cars of different models use the same parts with the same interchange number.  A replacement steering column that has the same interchange number as your old steering column, will work in your car even if it came from a different model car.   

Locating the VIN
The Vehicle Identification Number or VIN acts like the cars DNA, providing information on the country of manufacture, the manufacturing company, the division (make and model), body style, engine type, the model year and the assembly plant.  You can find your car’s VIN on the car’s title, insurance policy, registration, and maintenance/guarantee book.  You can also find it on the door frame, dash-board, engine, firewall, left-hand inner wheel arch or radiator support bracket of the car.  The VIN provides the supplier with all the information they need to find the correct replacement steering column.

Buying New and Used Steering Column
There are many online companies that will sell you replacement steering columns.  You can get steering columns for cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans.  New, used and rebuilt steering columns are available. Buying an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) steering column is a good option for getting a top quality genuine part at a reasonable price.  OEM parts as the name suggests, come from the manufacturer of the original part, ensuring quality.  They are often rebuilt parts taken out of other cars.  “Aftermarket” is a term used for parts that are non-OEM parts.  Regardless of what type of steering column you buy, knowing the supplier is a good idea.  Reliable companies will give you a warranty for your steering column.