Powering steering once was considered a luxury that was to be had in only the finest automobiles. Today, it is a piece of equipment that is expected to come in every vehicle, which is why it is almost never listed in the standard equipment for different models. We have taken power steering for granted so much that it is only when a car experiences trouble with the system that we begin to realize just how useful it is. After all, trying to steer a 4,500 pound car without power steering constitutes a serious workout, especially if you are navigating through tight city streets.
Sooner or later, a car’s power steering system will experience problems as it begins to wear out. There are a few specific reasons why a power steering system would suddenly stop working. If you find yourself in such a situation, knowing the potential causes helps as you attempt to fix the problem yourself, or even if you end up taking the car to a mechanic for repairs.
Low power steering fluid could be the cause of the problem, which is an incredibly easy thing to fix. If you check the fluid’s level and it’s too low, you will have to turn the steering wheel harder to maneuver the vehicle through turns. All you have to do is remove the cap from the power steering pump and top it off with some fresh fluid.
If you find that you have to refill the power steering pump often, there is a leak in the system that needs to be pinpointed and repaired. The most common area for leaks is the hoses and lines that connect to the power steering pump. Check for cracking or brittle hoses as well as worn or missing clamps. The rack and pinion or recirculating ball is another common area for power steering leaks. You must jack up the front of the car to inspect the seals for leaks.
Sometimes power steering problems are caused by loose belts. The quickest way to screen for this is to stand by the power steering pump with the hood open, then have someone else turn on the engine and start cranking the steering wheel all the way to the left, then all the way to the right. If you hear any loud, screeching noises coming from the pump, you know the belt is loose and needs to be adjusted.
If after going through these steps you still cannot figure out what’s wrong with the power steering pump, you need to take your car to a qualified mechanic.