Common Power Steering FAQ’s
Power steering is the system that assists in turning the steering wheel, which comes in handy especially when the vehicle is stopped or going very slow speeds.
You can continue to drive until you can repair the leak and replace the fluid, however, you need to be cautious. A loss of power steering fluid will affect the drivability of your car. Your power steering rack will not function properly and will make it difficult to steer. Going at low speeds will make driving even harder.
Additionally, driving your car for too long without power steering fluid can result in a damaged pump. Bring your vehicle to Automotive Hospital if you suspect a leak so our technicians can review and assess the situation.
As with most systems on your car, a lot of symptoms can indicate several different system malfunctions. Pay attention to all o the signs and symptoms your car is exhibiting. If one or more of the following are occurring on a regular basis, your power steering could be in failure.
- Power steering fluid is leaking from the engine bay
- Squealing noise when you turn the steering wheel
- Grinding from the power steering pump pulley
- Difficulty turning the wheel in one or both directions
- Low power steering fluid in the car
- A low-pitched whine or sound coming from the power steering pump
- You need to use extreme force to turn the vehicle when it is stopped or going slow
The power steering pump gives the hydraulic pressure needed to operate the power steering system. The pressure is converted into mechanical force in the steering gear or rack or pinion (depending on the type of vehicle you have). The pressure is intended to push the wheels in the desired direction.
There are five major signs that your steering pump could be bad or failing. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, bring your vehicle into Automotive Hospital and have our skilled technicians look at your system and see if a replacement or repair is needed.
- Whining noise while you are turning the wheel.
- The steering wheel is slow to respond or stiff.
- There is a squealing noise when the vehicle starts.
- There are groaning noises.
- There is a visible and distinct reddish-brown puddle under your car.
The most common issue with a power steering system is a power steering fluid leak. Depending on your vehicle’s system, different fluids are used to build pressure and power the steering mechanism, but the purpose is always the same. The type of fluid used depends on your system and depending on that system, you could see a leak in three different areas.
The power steering pump may leak and that would be at the point where the pump shaft exits the pump body. If there is a leak here, you would find fluid dripping from behind the pump pulley.
Another common location for a leak is in the hoses or tubing that carriers the power steering fluid from the pump to the steering gear or rack. If you find a leak at the connection, you can most likely tighten or tape the area, but a leak in the soft hose would require replacing the hose.
The third spot your fluid may be leaking is in the location of the actual steering gear or rack. This is the most common spot for a leak because this area is subject to the most road grime that can wear the shafts and seals. The leak may appear to either be coming from the accordion cover or from where the steering column attaches to the rack.
If you need help determining where your power steering fluid leak is and how to properly repair it, contact Automotive Hospital for a diagnostic today!
First, check the power steering fluid level. If there is not enough fluid, it can be hard to take turns in your vehicle. You can purchase power steering fluid from your local automotive supply store and refill the pump. If you must refill the fluid frequently, chances are there is a leak somewhere in the system.
Next, inspect the hoses and lines around the power steering pump for possible leaks.
Then, use a jack to lift the front end of the car. Take time to check the seals of the rack and pinion for leaks.
Last, check for any loose belts. Have someone turn the engine and turn the steering wheels while listening for unusual noises coming from the pump. A screechy, loud sound indicates a loose belt that needs adjustment.
If you are not sure where to check, bring your car in to Automotive Hospital and have a certified technician look at it.
Replacing a power steering pump is a quick job. Labor costs can run a few hundred and the parts can run anywhere from $500 or higher depending on whether you need to replace just the power steering pump or other parts needed.
Do you have a bad steering rack and pinion on your vehicle? Here are some symptoms that your steering rack is going bad or is already out the door:
- Loose steering
- Steering wheel shakes
- Clunky noise
- Wheels do not re-center
- Excess slack
- Looseness in the steering wheel
- Vehicle unstable on the highway