How To Fix Power Steering Problems
At some point, most vehicles will experience power steering problems. Some of these problems can be fixed at home with a little spare time and some tools. It is important to know the common power steering issues, how to diagnose them and how to fix them.
Leaking Power steering Fluid
If it is hard to turn the vehicle, this is usually caused by a lack of power steering fluid. With the engine off, check the power steering fluid level. To do this, unscrew the lid of the power steering fluid pump. Add more fluid if necessary. Put the lid back on tightly. While it is never required to change the power steering fluid, some vehicle owners choose to do so. The root of a low fluid problem is usually a leak. Although it may be possible to see where the leak is coming from, this is not necessary. There are power steering additive products, such as No Leak® Power Steering Stop Leak designed to fix leaks. Simply pour the power steering additive into the fluid reservoir, be sure not to overfill. Leaks are the most common power steering problems encountered by vehicle owners. Foamy fluid is a sign of the wrong type of fluid in the reservoir. Improper fluid should be replaced. If the fluid is not the problem, the issue may be a clog in the system.
Power Steering Hose
The signs of a clog may be harder to identify at first. A clog in a hose may mimic a belt problem or a leak problem. The steering wheel may be difficult to turn, and vehicle owners may notice a whining sound when they turn the wheel. When power steering fluid moves through the pump and system, there is a complex network of gears it passes through. It is important to address a possible clog immediately. If the clog is not in the hose, it may be in the gears and lead to pump failure. Gear clogs should be fixed by a mechanic. Try to fix a clog by replacing the hose. Put a drain pan under the hose on the steering rack. Disconnect the hose, and install a new hose using the same connection route.
Power Steering Pump
This problem typically manifests itself through a humming sound or a change in pitch when the engine’s RPMs change. If the problem is severe, there may also be a leak around the shaft of the pump that causes wobbling in the pulley. Although the power steering pump is a simple device, it is the life of the entire system for power steering. The pump draws power from the engine, distributes it through the system and makes it easier to steer the vehicle. If the pump must be replaced, only attempt to replace it if the process is understandable. People who do not have the right tools or experience should have a mechanic do this repair. The right pump, hoses, pulleys, belts, and tools must be purchased. Use a guide that is made specifically for the type of vehicle owned, and consult the owner’s manual for specs on parts. When buying a new pump, check to see if the vendor accepts old pumps as partial credit. Some vendors accept them with the intention of rebuilding and reselling them. Buying a rebuilt pump is less expensive. Be sure to weigh options and budget needs before making a decision.
Power Steering Belt Adjustment
Some people notice steering problems that only occur when a vehicle reaches a certain speed, is driving around sharp curves or when it rains. Problems may also be noticeable by a loud screeching sound when the vehicle is started. If these types of problems become noticeable, the belt may need to be adjusted or replaced. The belt will not typically break or snap off when the car is in motion. With the vehicle off, open the hood of the car. This belt is toward the front of the engine and is powered by a pulley on the crankshaft. It is not the same belt that supplies power to the alternator or water pump. However, some vehicles only have a serpentine belt that supplies power to all systems. Since the pump is pivoted, it is easy to move the belt away from the engine. This increases tension and reduces the sounds or problems associated with a slipping belt. Make sure the tension is correct according to the owner’s manual. Use a tension gauge to test it.
Power Steering Belt Replacement
If the belt is broken, cracked or severely damaged, it is best to replace it. Check the old belt’s part number, and be sure to purchase the correct type of replacement belt. Unbolt the lower and upper mount points. Without completely removing the power steering pump, take the belt out. If it is too difficult, remove one of the pulleys to avoid cutting the belt. When putting the new belt on, make sure the beveled edge is lined up with the pulley’s groove. Make sure it is at the correct tension, replace the bolts and spray the belt with dressing.
Tools For Diagnosing Power Steering Problems
It is helpful to have a helper who can turn the steering wheel while the engine is on. The vehicle owner should examine the belt. Make sure there is a car jack, a flashlight, paper towels for wiping dirt, a crowbar, an adjustable wrench and a tension gauge available. Be sure to have the owner’s manual handy as well. Know the correct procedure for adjusting or changing a belt before attempting to do so. Any major problems should be verified and fixed by a professional.
In addition to inspecting the system when there are possible problems, vehicle owners should have their power steering systems checked every 6,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. If owners do not put that many miles on the vehicle within six months, it should be inspected every six months instead.