Power steering is a feature in modern vehicles that allows the driver to steer the vehicle smoothly with little effort. It eases parking and low-speed driving, and it's a practical necessity for most vehicles. The power steering system consists of a hydraulic pump which is driven by the engine. The pump exerts pressure on the hydraulic fluid which in turn transmits power into the power steering. Problems with the system can make it difficult to control the vehicle and even cause an accident. It is essential to understand the signs of power steering failure and how to solve them.
Contaminated hydraulic fluid
The condition of the hydraulic fluid can affect the performance of the power steering system significantly. Contamination is usually due to worn O-rings, seals, and internal power steering components. When they wear out, these parts disintegrate in the fluid, causing the system to work harder. If the fluid isn't changed, it can chew up the pump and result in power steering failure. The hydraulic fluid should occasionally be changed for proper performance and prolonged life of the system.
Low hydraulic fluid levels
Low steering fluid levels can be an indication of leaks within the system. If less fluid is pumped, the system will not receive enough power to provide the wheels torque. You can easily spot fluid leaks after parking your car for some time. Look out for any red fluid on the ground that could indicate hydraulic fluid leakage. You may need to have your auto repair dealer check your power steering system and carry out necessary repairs.
Whining or squealing noise
Squealing in a car is a sign of faulty components. If you hear the sound when driving at a slow speed or when abruptly turning the steering wheel, it could be a problem with the hydraulic pump. Also, if the car produces clattering sounds when starting, this could be an indication of pump failure. If you have not serviced or changed the hydraulic fluid recently, you should do so, as the power steering system could stop working at any time.
If the wheels of your car are difficult to turn and require more effort than usual, this could be an indication of power steering failure. Usually, it could be due to leaks or contaminated fluid. It could also be caused by damage to the power steering belt or a damaged pump. Change the hydraulic fluid and check the pump and pump belt for any signs of wear that could cause system failure.
Efficient performance of the power steering system is essential for smooth steering. For more information, contact a mechanic in your area.