In order to reduce the need for effort from the driver to steer the vehicle, engines incorporate a system referred to as “power steering.” This is a hydraulic system that uses power steering fluid to build pressure which is then used to change the direction of the wheels. This means you don’t need to arm wrestle with your steering wheel when trying to take a turn.
When your car’s power steering system begins to fail — or the fluid needs to be replaced — it can make it much harder to control around curves and corners. There are a few problems which can cause this issue. Here are some common problems associated with the failure of your power steering system.
Leaking Power Steering Fluid — The power steering system uses a special fluid to transfer the pressure to change the direction of your wheels. If this fluid has been compromised and is leaking, then the ability to build pressure in the fluid is harder to do. This means taking curves and turns can be near impossible. You can easily spot this because you will notice fluid dripping from the vehicle. Often, there is also a grinding noise that can be heard when taking turns. If you run out of fluid, you can burn out the power steering pump.
Cracked, Peeling or Worn out Hose — Every part of your vehicle wears out with time. The components of your car are under stress when driving and this can cause damage. After a few years, you will notice the hoses associated with the power steering system have become hardened and begin to crack. Your hoses are also located close to other parts in the engine compartment and may become worn due to possible friction with these components. These issues may lead to holes or cracks in the hoses which will eventually leak power steering fluid.
Loose Hose Couplings — Just as your hoses can become damaged throughout normal use of your car, the couplings which connect your hoses together may begin to loosen, resulting in loss of fluid. This is caused by vibrations, sudden bumps or by the pressure of the system itself.
Slipped Drive Belt — The drive belt on the power steering pump slipping off is a common problem associated with power steering. This will completely prevent your car from changing direction as there is nothing driving the pump resulting in the loss of fluid pressure. You can notice this pretty easily when you hear a squealing sound when you turn the steering wheel into a sharp turn.
Worn Out Pump — As your car gets older, so does the power steering pump. The seals and internal parts of the pump break down and lead to loss of fluid pressure. This can be diagnosed through a loss of steering ease and through squealing sounds.
Preventative Maintenance Can Address the Causes of Power Steering FailureNow that you know a few symptoms of a failing power steering system if you feel your car might need a repair, take it in for an expert inspection. Most of these issues can be prevented through routine inspection and maintenance. Taking your car in for consistent maintenance is how you can keep your car healthy and performing at its best. Let our experienced mechanics help prevent power steering failure, as it’s extremely important to get you to your destination safely.