The power steering system in your vehicle is made up of several components that can cause problems after years of use. Some of these problems might be easy to catch as soon as they begin, but others might be less obvious, forcing you to have major parts replaced.
Here are some steps you can take so you can catch those minor problems before they become more serious and costly.
- Check the power steering fluid. If your vehicle is hard to steer, it can be a sign of a low steering fluid level. Most vehicles on the road have hydraulic power steering systems. This means that pressurized fluid is used to help you do the work of steering. A pump pressurizes the power steering fluid to provide the boost you need. Other possibilities include worn suspension system parts and loose steering pump belt.
- If you hear a whine or loud noise when you’re turning the steering wheel while the engine is running or while you’re driving, the belt might be slipping. In some vehicles the pump is driven by the serpentine belt, while in others there is an electric pump.
The most common problem for vehicles is that over time, the steering fluid becomes contaminated and can actually cause leaks in the hoses and connections. It becomes harder to steer and could even cause total failure of the power steering system.
Periodically, your service adviser may recommend you change transmission fluid, which involves removing the old, dirty fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid. This helps the power steering components last longer, maintains your vehicle’s steering performance and keeps you safely on the road. Your technician will also have your system checked for leaks and the belt inspected for other pending needs, to help you avoid those pesky power steering problems.