Diagnosing Some Common Problems With Your Vehicle's Power Steering

Posted on: 2 May 2018

Never overlook problems you might have with your vehicle's steering; not only is it unsafe to drive a car or truck when you can't fully control its steering, but many steering problems just get worse with time, so you're then facing a more expensive repair. Your vehicle's steering can also suddenly fail while you're on the road, which is obviously very dangerous, if not downright deadly. To know what you might be facing by way of needed repairs for your vehicle's steering, note a few common problems with power steering and how they're addressed.

Squealing during turning

If you hear squealing from under the hood when you turn your vehicle, this can be caused by worn bearings, which allow gears to rotate when wheels are turned. However, this can also be caused by a slipping drive belt in the steering system. This belt operates the pump from which power steering fluid is distributed, and when it slips, it may start to squeal during a turn. Replacing this belt should fix the problem and will ensure the fluid pump remains operational.

Stiff wheel and grinding

If the steering wheel of the vehicle suddenly feels very stiff, this often means there is a power steering fluid leak. When you hear grinding noises as you turn the wheel, this may signal that the fluid is very low. When this happens, the steering wheel might simply lock up, and the pump can then burn out.

If you notice a fluid drip on the driver's side of the car when this happens, this typically signals a leak in the hoses or pump. You can add sealants to the reservoir and this may fix the issue; if not, a mechanic can change the hoses and replace worn connectors to address leaks in the steering system.

Loose steering wheel

If the steering wheel suddenly gets very loose so that you need to rotate it many times before the vehicle responds, this can also signal a loss of power steering fluid. Very often this is caused by a crack or other damage to a hose or because of a hose outright bursting because of being in contact with other parts under the hood. When a power steering hose bursts, the fluid will quickly drip out and your steering will then go from very loose to very stiff. If this happens, it's best to call a tow truck rather than trying to force the steering, and have a mechanic replace that hose as needed.