Like any other component, the power steering pump is prone to wear. It is important to diagnose (and treat) a failing power steering pump, since it can worsen the general handling of your vehicle, to avoid this problem, and so that you know how to identify the fault in time, here we bring you the common failures of a power steering pump power steering.
The cars are heavy. But thanks to the power steering, you might be able to drive effortlessly, even at low speeds. So having a bad power steering pump can definitely have a big impact on the handling of the vehicle.
What is the function of the power steering pump?
The power steering pump is responsible for providing the necessary hydraulic pressure for the system to function properly. Regulates power steering fluid, which helps make steering lighter and easier to handle . It is connected to your engine via a belt-pulley mechanism that is driven by the crankshaft.
There are different types of power steering pumps, known as rotary vane, roller, and slider. Although each one presents different designs and mechanisms, all three work according to the same principle, which is to pump the liquid to the entire system.
Common signs and failures of a power steering pump
As mentioned, a failing power steering pump can make your car more difficult to drive. And any sudden change in the vehicle’s steering behavior can be dangerous and possibly put you and your passengers at risk.
Here are the symptoms and common failures of a power steering pump:
1- Whining noise that matches the engine speed
One of the common failures of a bad power steering pump is noises that coincide with engine speed. The power steering pump is driven by the engine via a belt . If you have a bad pump, it can make a squealing noise when the engine is started. The pitch is usually higher as the RPM increases.
Whining noises are often caused by a low fluid level or a worn pump. Since there are multiple culprits behind a hissing noise, it would be wise not to jump to conclusions and exacerbate the problem.
Instead, take your car to a certified mechanic, who is much better able to perform the necessary testing and evaluation.
2- Loss of assistance power
Have you had that experience where your car seemed to go back to manual steering? This is a clear indication that your power steering is not working. The power steering pump is one of the first components to check if the steering wheel becomes too difficult to turn.
The pump is responsible for ensuring that the liquid circulates correctly under pressure. If the pump stops working, the necessary pressure will not be regulated and the flywheel will feel much heavier to handle.
3- Low liquid level
Power steering pumps also have gaskets that can develop leaks, creating a low fluid level . If you suspect the power steering pump is bad, consider checking for leaks.
A low power steering fluid level can damage the pump and cause it to make strange noises. The most common symptoms of a low power steering fluid level are harsh steering response and a stiff steering wheel.
4- Liquid leak
You can avoid further problems if you locate a leak early. If you have a power steering fluid leak, you will likely find red or light brown puddling formations under your car. This is the easiest way to find out if your power steering pump is leaking fluid.
However, while a leak is one of the most common symptoms of a bad power steering pump, it won’t always be present.
5- Metallic contamination in the liquid
It is important that the power steering system is properly sealed in order to maintain and achieve the pressure it needs to function . But even when the fluid is completely protected from the outside elements, it can become contaminated with small debris.
And where does the waste come from? From inside the power steering pump.
If the pump is badly damaged, metal parts inside can break off and mix with the power steering fluid. Small metal fragments can damage the lines and cause the entire power steering system to fail.
This often leads to major changes in the handling of your vehicle. If this is your case, you may need to flush the power steering fluid and replace the power steering pump and other affected components such as the steering gear.
Can you drive without power steering?
The short answer is that you shouldn’t, even though you can. Some people may argue that cars back then didn’t have power assist, so driving without power steering shouldn’t be a concern.
While it’s true that vintage cars didn’t have power steering, driving without it has several consequences.
1- Difficulty of direction
A failed power steering pump can make it difficult to steer the vehicle . Obviously, this situation poses a security problem.
2- A leak that gets worse over time
If the problem is not fixed, it will get worse. Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid intended to be contained in an airtight system. If you have a leak, the power steering will be affected.
A small leak might not sound alarming, but once it gets big, especially if it’s due to a crack somewhere along the steering lines, problems will quickly develop.
An existing leak could be causing your power steering pump to fail . If this small leak quickly becomes an uncontrollable mess, it could end up damaging the pump and other parts of the power steering system. When this happens, a more expensive repair and replacement will be your only option.
3- A badly damaged power steering pump
Your power steering pump creates pressure to help regulate your power steering fluid. Even very little damage can quickly compromise your ability to do this.
This is the perfect time to act and consult a certified mechanic if the pump is still serviceable. If the problem gets worse, you can end up completely damaging other components , such as the steering gear, beyond repair.