Power steering allows you to control your car with ease and precision, which can be especially helpful at low speeds and when parking in a tight spot. The power steering unit on your car is made up of a hydraulic pump that is powered by the engine. When you turn your steering wheel, the hydraulic pump places pressure on hydraulic fluid within the system which helps to turn the wheels on your car in a different direction. Problems with a vehicle's power steering can be very dangerous as they can make it difficult for a driver to properly control their car. Below is a guide to 3 things which can cause your power steering to fail and what you can do to fix them.
Hydraulic fluid leak
If your power steering develops a hydraulic fluid leak, the system will not be able to produce the power needed to turn the axle of your car. This will cause your steering to feel sluggish or heavy. You should wait a little while after parking and then check underneath your car. If you see red fluid on the ground, it is highly likely that you are experiencing a hydraulic fluid leakage. You will need to take your car into an auto mechanic so they can inspect and repair it.
Contaminated hydraulic fluid
If the rubber O-rings which form seals within your power steering system fail, it can cause contaminants to enter the hydraulic fluid. This places addition strain on the system, as it must work harder to create the power needed to turn the wheel. This additional strain will eventually lead to a complete failure of the hydraulic pump. To avoid this, you should ask a mechanic to change your hydraulic fluid when you have your car serviced.
Squealing or whining noises
If you hear a squealing or whining noise as you turn the steering wheel of your car, this suggests an issue with the hydraulic pump. This noise is generated when the pump attempts to compress the fluid contains within the system but is struggling to do so. This problem could be caused by an issue between the system which transfers energy from the engine to the hydraulic pump. You should not ignore any strange noises, as they could be an early warning sign that the power steering unit is going to fail. You should have your car inspected at an auto garage as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about your car's power steering, contact an auto mechanic today.