While almost every vehicle on the road today has power steering, there are different ways the system is designed. Some form of hydraulic power steering is by far the most common (for now) and like any other automotive system, problems can occur.
See Also: Electric vs Hydraulic Power Steering
For now, though, hydraulic steering is what you need to learn about. Its operation involves a belt that drives a pump which creates the pressure needed for the power steering. The driver is able to control the steering with either a steering gear box or a pinion and rack.
If a problem occurs with the hydraulic power steering system, then you need to understand the symptoms to look for so you will recognize where the problem lies so you don’t throw money at the wrong cause.
Just like you can expect problems when there’s not enough oil in an engine, you can also expect issues if inadequate power steering fluid exists in the system
Top 3 Low Power Steering Fluid Symptoms
A low amount of power steering fluid can cause a lot of different symptoms to occur. The following are symptoms which may be connected to having low power steering fluid in your car.
So, if you experience any of these symptoms, check your power steering fluid ASAP and top off as needed.
#1 – Noises When Turning Steering Wheel
When you are turning your steering wheel to make a turn with your car, do you hear noises? If so, then it could be due to low power steering fluid.
When the fluid is low, it allows more air to enter the system. This combination of low fluid and lots of air will make the pump malfunction and make noises. The simple way to fix the problem is to put more power steering fluid back into the system.
But first, you need to find out why the original fluid fell to a level lower than it should be. Does the reservoir or a hose have a crack or leak in it?
If so, then you need to repair these problems right away or else the entire power steering system could get damaged if the fluid gets low enough.
#2 – Jerky Steering Wheel
When you turn your steering wheel, does it feel jerky and not smooth while you’re turning it? You will notice this the most in areas where you drive slowly such as a parking lot.
If you experience this, then it’s very possible you have low power steering fluid.
See Also: 5 Reasons Your Steering Wheel Shakes
#3 – Hard to Turn Steering Wheel
The more fluid you lose from your power steering system, the harder it will be to turn the steering wheel. It will continue to get harder as the system continues to lose fluid.
If enough fluid is lost, your power steering pump can actually burn out and replacement of the pump is not cheap. But if you completely lose power steering, first make sure it’s not a bad connection or bad fuse before you go out to purchase a new pump.
The best way to avoid all these problems (and most car problems in general) is with proper maintenance.
This means that you should always make sure you have the correct amount of power steering fluid, that you replace your fluid on a regular basis, and if you notice any leaks in the reservoir, repair them right away so that bigger problems do not come up.
You should also make sure you have good tires because this can impact the components of your power steering system as well. If your tires are too worn out, it will slowly damage your power steering system and that can force you to spend lots of money to fix it.
If you notice any of these symptoms that were listed, check the fluid level in the reservoir tank of the power steering system.
If the fluid is low, top it off with fresh fluid and then start troubleshooting for a power steering fluid leak so it doesn’t continue to leak. You may need to get a professional mechanic involved to help find the cause of the leak.
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