Power steering is a critical component of your vehicle that enhances your driving experience by making it easier to steer the wheels.   Understanding how it works, common problems, and maintenance tips can help you keep your vehicle in top shape.  In this month’s blog post, we review power steering basics.

How Power Steering Works

Power steering uses hydraulic or electric power to assist the driver in steering the vehicle. In a hydraulic system, a pump driven by the engine’s serpentine belt pressurizes the power steering fluid. When you turn the steering wheel, this pressurized fluid helps move the steering gear, reducing the effort needed to turn the wheels.

In an electric power steering (EPS) system, an electric motor replaces the hydraulic pump. The motor provides assistive force directly to the steering gear or column, making the system more energy efficient.

Common Power Steering Problems

The more common problems you may experience with the power steering include the following:

  1. Leaking Power Steering Fluid: This is the most common issue in hydraulic systems. If you notice a clear or amber-colored fluid under your vehicle, it might be a power steering fluid leak.
  2. Noisy Steering: If you hear a whining or squealing noise when turning the wheel, it could indicate a low power steering fluid level or a faulty pump.
  3. Hard Steering: If the steering wheel feels heavy or hard to turn, it could be due to a failing power steering pump, a leak in the power steering rack, or an issue with the drive belt.
  4. Steering Wander: If your vehicle drifts to one side while driving, it could indicate an alignment issue or a problem with the power steering rack.

Maintaining Your Power Steering System

Like most vehicle systems, the power steering requires ongoing care and maintenance to keep it free of problems and extend the longevity of the system.  These include:

  • Checking Fluid Levels Regularly: For hydraulic systems, check the power steering fluid level at least once a month. Low fluid levels can lead to hard steering and damage the power steering pump.
  • Using the Right Fluid: Always use the type of power steering fluid recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
  • Regular Inspections: Have your power steering system inspected during regular vehicle maintenance. This can help catch issues like leaks or worn-out components early.
  • Driving Carefully: Avoid harsh steering maneuvers which can put unnecessary stress on the power steering system.

Remember, if you experience any issues with your power steering, it’s best to have it checked by a professional mechanic. Regular maintenance and understanding how your power steering system works can go a long way in ensuring a smooth and safe driving experience. If you would like to have your power steering inspected and/or repaired, contact the service professionals at Campus Repair to schedule an appointment.