Power steering aids drivers by decreasing the amount of effort needed to steer and control their vehicle. This improves the driver’s experience behind the wheel. Many power steering systems use hydraulic power to apply the force necessary to turn the wheels. Despite the fact that most power steering issues are caused by the fluid or pump, the problem may also stem from the belts and other factors.
Power steering fluid is absolutely essential to the power steering system and any contamination can lead to serious issues. Fluid may become contaminated by a failing pump as deteriorating hose material may mix with the fluid. Contamination of the materials in the fluid leads to many problems, likely causing small openings to plug up the steering system, higher friction levels or even interference with the fluid’s hydraulic characteristics. Fluid contamination can result in power steering components becoming useless.
A low power steering fluid can be just as damaging as contamination, causing a reduction in the amount of hydraulic fluid pressure the pump provides. As a result, the pump works harder and wears out faster. The fluid doubles as a lubricant and a coolant. If the parts are lubricated or cooled inadequately, this can cause the deterioration of the power steering system. Not switching out the fluid on time makes the wheel harder and harder to turn until it stops completely.
The belt attached to the crankshaft of the engine is usually what provides the power steering pump with energy to operate. When belts are worn out they may slip, reducing the amount of pressure the pump can make. If your belt slips or snaps, it will be noticeable immediately as your steering ability will be drastically reduced. This means the belt failed and isn’t powering the pump.
Power steering systems need fluid to operate. Some of the most serious contributors to power steering leaks are damaged hoses and old, degraded seals. Lack of fluid can cause the pump to wear out rapidly or even overheat. When this happens to the pump becomes useless and must be traded out for a new one.
A Worn Out Pump
The problems mentioned above can also cause the pump to wear out quickly. After a pump isn’t in prime condition anymore, the car may become even more problematic if you try to drive. Likewise, when your pump ages, you might also start to hear pump noise and the amount of steering effort you need to drive increases. It’s always better to get the pump fixed sooner rather than later.