Steering System Checks by Simon Phillips

Steering System Checks from Simon Phillips of Seaway

Some notes on the steering system onboard, routinely checking the cables, chain, pins and the components of the steering system will keep surprises away!

There are various areas to check, adjust and maintain and this short article will point you in the right direction.

Cable Tension

A top quality chain to wire steering system can be kept in as new sensitivity and condition by keeping the wire at a correct tension. To check for proper wire tension, lock the wheel in position by using the pedestal brake, or by tying off the wheel. 

Cable tension is best when you cannot move the quadrant or drive wheel by hand with the wheel locked in place. Over tightening will greatly reduce the sensitivity of the system.

Screws, nuts, bolts, as well as clevis and cotter pins that are part of the steering system, or pedestal accessories, must be checked regularly for tightness and wear. Failure to inspect all steering parts, engine controls and pedestal accessories may cause loss of control or failure of the steering system. All boats must have an emergency tiller or its equivalent and all on board must be familiar with its location and operation. An emergency tiller drill is just as important as a man-overboard drill and should be rehearsed.


On a new boat and at least once a year, inspect the system when under a strong load. On a calm day and under power, go away from the other boats and put the wheel hard over at full throttle. Look carefully for all parts of the system bending, distorting, creaking, or giving any indication of failing if placed under a heavy load for a period of time. When leaving your boat at her mooring or slip, make sure that your wheel is properly tied off, not leaving the rudder to move.Seaway Steering Syetem