6 Common Power Steering Problems Explained

The cap to the power steering fluid reservoir.

When your vehicle has power steering problems it can make controlling the car much harder around curves and corners. The power steering unit of your car uses a hydraulic system that takes a lot of the steering strain off of the driver. This system builds up pressure as you turn the wheel and pushes the tires to either side as you turn. When there are power steering problems, you will instantly notice the difference. There are a few common problems that are associated with the power steering; here are a few to help you diagnose your vehicle.

1. Power Steering Leak

The most common power steering problem is a leak in the system. This problem has a few different signs that will help you diagnose it pretty quickly. Besides the telltale appearance of fluid on the driver’s side of the vehicle, you will also notice a grinding noise when you turn the wheel. When you hear the sound you are getting to the point where the fluid is very low and it must be fixed quickly. If you run out of fluid, the pump can burn out completely.

2. Drive Belt Slipping

Another very common problem that is associated with the power steering occurs when the belt on the pump starts to slip. You will notice this very quickly when you hear a very loud squealing sound as you turn the steering wheel in a sharp turn. For example, when you come to a stop and must turn onto a new street, the squealing will be heard as you turn the wheel all the way in whichever direction you’re going.

3. Cracked Hoses

After several years of use, you will find that some of the hoses associated with the power steering system can start to become hard and cracked. The only way to realize this before you start to have a leak is with a periodic inspection of the hoses and other components in your car's engine compartment.

4. Hose is Worn

Because of the close proximity to other parts in the engine bay, there is the chance that the hoses will make contact with other parts as the vehicle is driven. This contact can begin to wear a hole in the side of a hose, or start to make it a little spongy on one side. After some time, the pressure in the hose can cause it to burst while driving. A sudden loss of pressure will cause your steering to get very hard, quickly.

5. Peeling Hose

Another problem associated with the power steering can be found after it has been worked on. When the hose has been over crimped at one end, you might notice a little bit of peeling back on the hose.

6. Coupling Creeps Off

If you have owned your vehicle for several years, and drive it a lot, one more problem that you can find is that the coupling on the hose will begin to creep off. A quick visual inspection of the power steering will show this problem.