Power steering is an important feature in modern vehicles that makes turning the steering wheel easier. It allows drivers to maneuver their vehicles with minimal effort, reducing driver fatigue. However, like any component on a vehicle, the power steering system needs regular maintenance and occasional repairs to keep it operating properly. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about maintaining and repairing your power steering system.
How Power Steering Works
Power steering uses a hydraulic system to reduce the effort needed to turn the steering wheel. It consists of a power steering pump, drive belt, steering gear, and hydraulic lines. The pump pressurises fluid from the power steering reservoir and sends it to the steering gear. The steering gear contains a piston that assists in turning the wheels when the driver turns the steering wheel. Power steering makes turning easier by reducing the friction and effort needed to turn the front wheels.
Importance of Power Steering Fluid and Filter Changes
Regular fluid and filter changes are crucial to power steering system health. Power steering fluid transfers power in the hydraulic system and also lubricates components. Over time, fluid breaks down from heat and contamination. Changing the fluid and filter according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule helps remove debris and replenishes additives that prevent wear. Signs of contaminated fluid include faded colour, burnt smell, foaminess, and degraded lubricating properties. Always use fluid that meets the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
Identifying Power Steering Problems
Symptoms of power steering problems include increased effort to turn the wheel, strange noises during turning, leaking fluid, loose steering, and steering wheel vibration. Here are some common power steering issues:
- Low fluid – Insufficient fluid reduces hydraulic pressure in the system. Check the reservoir and hoses for leaks.
- Loose belt – The drive belt that runs the power steering pump can become loose, reducing pump output.
- Leaking hoses – Cracked, worn, or corroded hoses can leak fluid, leading to reduced pressure.
- Damaged gear – The steering gear contains a piston and valve that can wear out and leak.
- Pump failure – Power steering pumps can fail due to seized bearings or internal wear.
- Air in system – Air bubbles in the fluid lines reduce hydraulic pressure. Bleeding the system is required.
If you experience any power steering problems, have your vehicle inspected by a professional technician right away. Continuing to drive with power steering issues can lead to loss of control or system damage.
Power Steering Preventative Maintenance
You can help keep your power steering system in good working order by following recommended maintenance:
- Inspect hoses and gear – Check for cracking, leaks, or damage. Replace any deteriorated hoses.
- Check fluid level – The reservoir should be filled to the proper level. Top off if low.
- Change fluid and filter – New fluid and filter should be installed per the maintenance schedule.
- Check drive belt – Inspect for glazing, cracking, and proper tension. Adjust or replace as needed.
- Flush system – Flushing the old fluid periodically cleans internal components.
- Check pump – Listen for unusual pump noises which may indicate wear.
Performing preventative maintenance at regular intervals can maximise the life of your power steering components and prevent costly repairs down the road.
Power Steering Repairs
While most power steering issues can be prevented with proper maintenance, repairs are sometimes needed. Here are some common repairs:
- Fluid exchange – Draining old fluid and replacing it removes contaminants from the system.
- Hose replacement – Leaking or worn power steering hoses need to be replaced to maintain fluid pressure.
- Pump replacement – Faulty pumps need to be replaced to restore proper hydraulic pressures.
- Gear replacement – Excessively leaking or damaged steering gears need to be rebuilt or replaced.
- Belt replacement – Loose, worn, or cracked drive belts should be replaced to ensure proper pump operation.
- Seal and bearing replacement – Seals and bearings may need replacement to stop fluid leaks.
Power steering repairs require specialised tools and knowledge. Have repairs performed by a qualified auto mechanic to ensure the system works safely. Avoid do-it-yourself power steering repairs unless you have training and experience.
Maintaining Safe Steering
Driving with faulty power steering is dangerous due to the extra effort required to steer, as well as the risk of complete failure. Signs like increased steering effort, strange noises, and leaking fluid mean your power steering needs attention. Have any issues diagnosed and repaired promptly. Keep up with preventative maintenance and replace components before they fail to help avoid being stranded with steering problems. Investing in power steering service ensures safe, reliable steering performance.
In summary, power steering makes driving much easier and reduces driver fatigue. But like any vehicle system, it needs regular maintenance and occasional repairs to operate safely. By changing fluids and filters at proper intervals, inspecting components, and having repairs done promptly, you can keep your power steering system in good working order. Follow recommended service procedures in your vehicle owner’s manual and consult a professional mechanic for repairs. Investing in power steering maintenance helps ensure safe, trouble-free steering performance.
SNC Automotive, a leading car mechanic shop in Brendale, can expertly diagnose and service your vehicle’s power steering system. Our certified mechanics have the knowledge and skills to properly maintain and repair your power steering components. We aim to provide not just car repairs, but also helpful preventative maintenance advice to keep you on the road. Contact SNC Automotive in Brendale to discuss your power steering service needs.