If you’ve ever tried to drive a car without power steering, it doesn’t take long to see why this feature is so important to your vehicle. Power steering makes driving easier, safer, and less stressful, and removes the need to use an abundance of muscle just to get your car around a corner. Power steering is pretty much standard on any vehicle you buy these days, and while systems are generally pretty reliable, they aren’t immune from issues.
Here are five reasons why power steering systems can break down or become damaged.
Contaminated Power Steering Fluid
Over time, your power steering fluid can become contaminated by dust or debris from deteriorating hoses or outside moisture, which changes its properties and makes it not function as it’s supposed to. This can create increased friction or even change your fluid’s hydraulic characteristics, which can quickly wear out your steering pump, destroy fluid lines, and so much more. This is why it’s important to flush your power steering after some time, and constantly check it to ensure it’s still in good shape.
Not Enough Power Steering Fluid
If you have a leak in one of your power steering fluid lines your fluid will slowly seep out. When there isn’t enough of this fluid in your system, your pump won’t be able to keep it at the ideal pressure to make it work, and that’s going to cause your power steering to give out or even cause the pump to break down completely. This is one system where you absolutely do not want a leak. Every time you change your oil, check your power steering fluid to make sure that it’s still within an acceptable level. If you notice it receding, then you probably have a leak and should take your car for servicing as soon as possible.
Worn Out or Broken Steering Pump
Your power steering pump is perhaps the single most important part of your power steering system. Without it, your power steering will be essentially useless, as it won’t actually make turning the wheel any easier. As your steering pump starts to age, it’ll start giving you signs that it may be on its way out, including strange noises and increased difficulty steering. Be sure you bring it to a professional to get fixed before it gives out completely.
Broken Power Steering Belt
Your power steering pump is powered via a belt that’s connected to the crankshaft of your engine. If this belt starts to wear out, it could slip. A slipped belt will cause a sudden jolt in your steering system before returning to normal. However, a broken belt will cause your power steering to give out completely. You definitely won’t miss either of these things—they’re extremely obvious and could lead to problems for your car. It’s always best to have a problematic belt replaced before a break could cause damage to your steering pump and other parts of your car.
Caring for Your Power Steering System
What can you to do care for your power steering system and keep it working as it should be? Believe it or not, it’s easier than you might think, and your mechanic can easily provide you with the maintenance services which help keep it in the best shape possible. Here are a few of the simple steps you should follow:
- CHANGE YOUR FILTER: MOST PEOPLE DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW THIS BUT THERE’S A SMALL FILTER FOR YOUR POWER STEERING FLUID WHICH REMOVES DEBRIS FROM THE FLUID AND KEEPS IT AS CLEAN AS POSSIBLE AND REDUCE WEAR AND TEAR ON YOUR PUMP. YOU SHOULD CHANGE THIS FILTER ONCE A YEAR, OR ACCORDING TO THE INSTRUCTIONS IN YOUR VEHICLE’S OWNER’S MANUAL. THIS IS EASILY ONE OF THE MOST FORGOTTEN-ABOUT REGULAR MAINTENANCE SERVICES.
- CHECK YOUR POWER STEERING FLUID: CHECKING YOUR POWER STEERING FLUID IS SOMETHING YOU CAN EASILY DO AT HOME. SIMPLY INSPECT THE COLOR OF YOUR FLUID BY OPENING THE CAP AND CHECKING THE TOP OF YOUR RESERVOIR. FLUID IN GOOD CONDITION SHOULD BE BRIGHT, CLEAR, AND VIBRANT, WHILE WORN-OUT FLUID WILL BE DARKER AND POTENTIALLY HAVE VISIBLE SPECKS OF DUST FLOATING AROUND IN THEM.
- CHECK YOUR HIGH- & LOW-PRESSURE HOSES: THERE ARE TWO MAIN HOSES TO YOUR POWER STEERING SYSTEM: A HIGH-PRESSURE HOSE AND A LOW-PRESSURE HOSE. IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHECK BOTH OF THESE HOSES REGULARLY BECAUSE THEY CAN WEAR OUT. MAKE SURE THEY’RE NOT RUBBING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER AND THAT ANY PROTECTIVE COATINGS AROUND THE OUTSIDE REMAIN INTACT.