Does turning the steering wheel while parked put extra stress on the steering linkage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

We have a pressing question which is putting a strain on our marriage. My position is that turning the steering wheel with the car stationary puts a stress on the steering linkage which will eventually lead to excessive wear. I think this is especially true for our new vehicle, a Plymouth Voyager, which has most of the weight over the front wheels. My wife says it ain't so. I would like to keep this thing for at least 15 years, so I'm a little worried.

TOM: Keep what for 15 years, Reg? The car or the marriage? We don't know about the marriage. All we can tell you is that the car is in no great danger.

RAY: Turning the steering wheel while the car is standing still doesn't do any real damage to the components of the front end. They take much more of a beating when you drive the car. When you're rounding a turn, they're fighting not only the weight of the car, but also the gravitational forces of acceleration. So the damage done to the front end from turning while stopped is, by comparison, insignificant.

TOM: But what it does do is ruin the tires. Standing friction (which is what you have when you're standing still) is greater than rolling friction (which is what you have when you're moving).

RAY: So if your wife dropped her membership in her health club, and instead worked out everyday by turning the steering wheel back and forth, you'd go through your front tires pretty quickly. But if you just do it occasionally--like while parking--who cares?

TOM: So if you want to get 15 more years out of this marriage, I'd say an apology, and some timely "yes, dears" are in order, Reg.

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