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Rear View – A Carcility blog

Signs of Failing Power Steering System

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Car care

The beginning of the 20th century witnessed automobile manufacturers introducing the advanced steering system – the power steering. This power steering installed in automobiles drops the drivers’ effort and makes it easier for them to manoeuvre through the roads. 

But, have you ever imagined how difficult things could get if your power steering suddenly gave up and now you have to go through the intense physical exertion of forcefully managing to complete the next turn down the road. Not a delightful one, right? This is the reason why a failing power steering system gives out signs to indicate that there has been a problem which requires a fix. 

About the Power Steering System

There are three types of power steering systems – hydraulic, electric or a hybrid type. These are described as follows:

The Hydraulic power steering (HPS) uses a power steering pump (engine-driven) that supplies the hydraulic pressure to assist in the steering wheel’s motion.

In the second type, i.e. the Electric power steering (EPS) system, the hydraulic system is completely replaced by an electric-powered system. This electric system, attached to the steering column controls the dynamics of the steering wheel. 

The Electric power hydraulic steering (EPHS) or the Hybrid type is a combination of the electric and hydraulic power steering type. In this type, the power steering is controlled by a brushless electric motor that also powers the hydraulic power steering pump, providing it with the required energy. 

Whatever be the power steering type used in the automobile, its overall function is to act as the driver’s input force multiplier, making it easier to turn the steering wheel. 

Can I still drive if power steering fails?

You can drive while still having power steering problems, but you should not

Driving a car with a failed power steering will ultimately be the cause of greater damage than you might have expected. If you’re running on low fluids, there will be a time when the pump completely dries off, resulting in increased friction and heat, which will ultimately be the cause of far significant damage.

Symptoms of power steering system failure

The signs and symptoms may be there, but it is equally crucial for you to be aware of these failing power steering system signs so that you can acknowledge the problem and take necessary action to get it fixed. 

The warning sign will remain until you get the power steering system fixed. This is important as a power steering system failure that will affect your car’s overall handling efficiency and might impose greater risks to the safety of you and your passengers.

Look out for the following signs that indicate power steering problems:

1. Stiff Steering Wheel

Running smoothly on the function of a power steering system, you are not supposed to feel the pressure while you turn the wheel – failing to do so is an indication of power steering problems.

If you feel the need to steer hard and heavily, you might need to get your power steering failure resolved. 

2. Slow Steering Response

If you feel that your power steering system is giving a slow response to the steering inputs, these could be signs that indicate power steering issues.

3. Issues in Handling the Steering 

A loosening feels on the control of your steering wheel might be an indication of a failing power steering system. Signs like  – steering wheel slipping out of your hand while you still try to handle its control, or you need to turn the steering excessively in order to complete a full turn of the vehicle indicate steering issues. A vehicle wandering to the wrong side or pulling to a specific side might point to failing steering gear. 

4. Squealing or Whining Noise 

If you hear a squealing noise when starting a vehicle or a whining noise is heard while you’re turning your vehicle,  then you have an indication that something is not right with the power steering system of your car. The whining sound will increase with the increasing speed of the engine (RPM) and as you continue turning the wheel.

5. Groaning Noise 

The groaning noise is probably the most critical noise that indicates a power steering system failure and will get worse as it further degenerates. This noise might be indicating a deficient power steering fluid level which if continued to run, might even damage the other parts of the system.

6. Low Fluid Levels

All the fluids in your car play a specific role in their respective functions. Similarly, just like braking fluid, coolant or the oil levels, your power steering fluid is essential for its proper functioning. Driving with a low fluid level might even damage your power steering system. You must be aware of how often you should inspect your car fluids. 

A low fluid level could be the reason for a power steering system failure. Either your system could be running low on the fluid, or there might be a leakage of which you’re unaware. The power steering fluid is mostly either red or reddish-brown. You can locate its reservoir (based on your car’s engine location) and must regularly ensure that it’s filled to its adequate level and that there are no leaks in and around it. 

7. Changed Fluid Color

While checking the fluid levels, you can also ensure the fluid’s colour appearance. A grey-coloured fluid or presence of metal flakes in it might indicate a faulty steering pump that caused the fluid’s oxidation.

Could you relate to any of the symptoms mentioned above?

If yes, then it is definitely the right time to get a professional check done for your car. 

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