A steering wheel helps us to maneuver a car to the left or right.
Imagine how much force you would have to apply to move a bulky vehicle, and then imagine that you would have to apply all that force with your own hands. Sounds extremely difficult, doesn’t it?
That’s exactly why the power steering technology was developed. As vehicles became bulkier and bulkier, larger tires were introduced, larger engines were added, and the task of steering became even more difficult.
The Function of A Power Steering Pump
The power steering works with the help of a power steering pump. This pump takes a special fluid from a special container and pressurizes it to turn the steering gear. This in turn allows the wheel to turn without much effort.
Bad Power Steering Pump Symptoms
The power steering pump is both a mechanical and an electrical system, so over time it can lose efficiency through excessive use. If you can tell when it is about to fail, you can contact the mechanic in time for necessary repairs.
1. Unpleasant Noise While Steering
The power steering pump works with the help of a fluid. So if the fluid level gets too low or the fluid does not reach the pump at all, it makes it difficult for the steering gear to work properly and this causes unpleasant whining noises when steering. If you are not careful and the power steering pump continues to run at critical fluid levels, you could damage the entire system, which could lead to some very expensive repairs.
2. Unresponsive Steering Wheel
The steering wheel will no longer respond to your gestures if there is a problem with its functionality. You may feel that your car is taking a little longer to turn or that it is not turning at all. This can be dangerous if you are driving too fast and need lightning-fast manoeuvres. It is advisable to have your power steering pump checked by a mechanic at the earliest possible moment to avoid a life-threatening danger.
3. Rigid Steering Wheel
When the power steering pump is about to fail, it no longer responds fully. Not only will you no longer be able to steer, you will also be more prone to accidents. However, this is usually the final stage of power steering pump failure, so you are unlikely to reach this point unless you overlook the other symptoms.
4. Loud Squealing from The Hood
When your car starts for the first time, all fluids begin to circulate on their respective routes. The fluid in the steering pump does the same thing, but if that fluid is insufficient and nears its end, your car’s power steering pump may move the timing belt. The belt makes an annoying squealing noise that usually disappears after a few minutes.
5. Knocking Noise
As the power steering pump nears its end, it makes a loud knocking sound. This noise is the harbinger of further destruction, because if the power steering pump is not repaired after this noise, several other components of the steering system, such as the racks and steering lines, are in danger of being destroyed.
Diagnosing A Failing Power Steering Pump
There is not much to do to test a power steering pump except to use your hands and really try to drive somewhere where there are a lot of twists and turns. The more you turn and the harder you turn, the more symptoms of power steering pump failure appear.
We have already discussed the symptoms of a failing pump, so all you need to do is watch for them while you test drive your car. A nice, empty road, preferably at night when there are fewer cars on the road, is always a good option. This way you can avoid endangering your life or the lives of others if the steering wheel does not respond fully.
Repairing A Power Steering Pump
The main problem with a power steering pump is the loss of fluid. If there is not enough fluid inside the pump, all kinds of problems can occur, so it is advisable to look for the steering pump fluid first. Otherwise, it is possible that an electrical malfunction may occur which will restrict the flow of current to the pump allowing it to function properly.
Inspect The Power Steering Fluid
Locate the Fluid Reservoir
This reservoir is located in the engine compartment. It is normally located near the front right or left radiator. Once you have located the fluid reservoir, it is time to check the fluid level.
Check Fluid Levels
Open the cover of the reservoir. There is a dipstick on the cap which you can use to determine the liquid level. When you remove the dipstick, it will already be covered with liquid. Wipe off all liquid with a clean cloth and put it back in the reservoir. Remove the dipstick and check that the liquid level is correct. If the level is critically low, it is time to refresh the steering pump fluid. You can easily find the fluid in any car dealership.
Seal the Reservoir
When you have finished changing the fluid, replace the container cover and dipstick and tighten the cover firmly so that no fluid escapes while driving.
Inspect Voltage Levels
Many cars have an electric power steering pump. If the power steering pump in your car is powered by electricity, its function will deteriorate if the pump is not properly powered.
To test for proper current flow, use a high impedance voltmeter. If power to the pump is irregular, the battery may be causing the malfunction. You should replace the battery first and then have the pump repaired.
If the power steering pump is beyond repair, you have no choice but to have it replaced. Depending on the make and model of your car, power steering pumps are neither too expensive nor too cheap. Normally you would be charged $200 – $350 for the replacement, including labor costs.