Next to brake failure, a sudden steering failure can be one of the most terrifying things to experience while driving a car. Owners of certain 2022 and 2023 Honda Civic models have found their steering wheels may jam while driving, prompting the NHTSA to investigate.
As reported by AP News, the issue has been reported as affecting new Honda Civics with very low mileage. Owners of the 11th-generation models report that their steering wheel can “stick” at times, requiring increased effort to turn the wheel. The momentary increase in required steering effort can be unpredictable and could increase the likelihood of a crash. The NHTSA has received 145 complaints regarding the issue over the past 11 months, with the majority regarding low-mileage vehicles.
“When driving at highway speeds in this car the steering becomes ‘sticky.’ You have to correct it to make the wheel go back to the center position which can cause you to overcorrect and cause a wreck,” said one complainant to the NHTSA. Another said their steering was “binding at highway speeds” and noted that “making corrections at highway speed becomes extremely dangerous.” After regularly fighting the wheel, one owner stated that “It feels as though I’m trying to correct the steering of a drunk driver.”
No clear causal factor jumps out from the complaints alone. One owner noted that holding the steering wheel in one position seemed to bring on the fault. “While driving in a straight line or in turns where the steering wheel stays in the same position for more than a few seconds; the steering wheel sticks at times,” their complaint read. They were also careful to state that this occurred with the Civic’s lane-keeping assist turned off.
Owner complaints to the NHTSA. NHTSA
Meanwhile, another owner reported a concerning jerking issue. “If I turn the wheel to make small corrections it feels like someone is grabbing the wheel and jerking it,” read the complaint, which noted they hadn’t experienced the issue when driving in below-freezing temperatures.
At this stage, the NHTSA is investigating the issue, while Honda is also performing an internal review regarding the problem. The issue may not yet lead to a recall, according to Honda. An estimated 238,000 vehicles across the 2022 and 2023 model years are the subject of the NHTSA’s probe into the matter.
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Unpredictable or stiff steering can be incredibly dangerous, particularly at higher speeds or in slippery conditions. The cause is as yet unclear, though further investigation should reveal whether the issue is mechanical, electrical, or software-related in origin. In the meantime, Honda has advised owners to contact their dealership if they are concerned something isn’t right with their vehicle.
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