The power steering on your vehicle will affect all aspects of handling from making a turn or just driving straight down the road. Without the proper fluid, your power steering will fail and the vehicle will become very hard to steer and it can become a serious situation very quickly.
If your vehicle becomes hard to turn or you start hearing weird noises such as a moan or whine while turning, it might be low on fluid, but it could also be the first sign of a power steering fluid leak. Quick action on your part is required for your safety and others on the road. You can find more about routine maintenance and car fix guides at carfixbook.com.
The leak could be an inexpensive solution such as just adding power steering fluid or something a little more expensive such as the replacement of the power steering pump. It is also important to note that using the right type of fluid is also very important if you need to add fluid into the power steering fluid reservoir. Some power steering systems use synthetic automatic transmission fluids (ATF), others use silicone-based fluids. So, it is important to check the manufacturer’s manual to see what fluid is recommended for the vehicle.
The power steering fluid flows from the reservoir where you fill it, through the hoses, into the steering pump, steering gear, and for some vehicles the steering coolers. The most common place to find a leak is in the steering gear or rack because those areas are most likely to get damaged or road grime that wears out the shafts and seals. The reservoir itself also could be loose or broken, but a leak could develop from any of those areas.
When there are no leaks and there are proper fluid levels, the power steering will be pressured by the power steering pump, that is driven by a belt which in turn helps to turn the wheels. But without fluid, there will not be adequate pressure and it will lead to difficulty in steering.
As the vehicle ages, the O-rings, hoses, and worn-out seals lose their form that eventually fail and the fluid begins to leak. A leak can also be detected by the power steering fluid color. The color of the power steering fluid is normally pink, red, or clear. If the fluid is brown or black in color, it’s been contaminated and could cause serious damage.
This not only applies to the power steering fluids. There are other leaks that can develop because of age such as the seals, hoses, and gaskets on the radiator, and can cause coolant leaks and overheating. A power steering leak might not be as serious as a brake or oil leak, but it still needs attention right away.
How can a power steering leak be fixed?
The leak can be fixed in some cases by the vehicle owner or in a lot of cases, you need to find a reputable professional mechanic to investigate the problem and make the necessary repairs. It could be an expensive repair depending on how long the leak has been going on, the damages caused by low fluid levels, and the parts such as the power steering pump, rack, cooler, or gear can vary in price and installation costs. The price for repairs will also depend on the year and make and model of the vehicle.
If the fluid is leaking from a power steering line, that should be an easy fix and not as expensive as something like a steering rack or the replacement of a pump seal or pump.
You can also use products such as No Leak, which is an additive that is compatible with all power steering fluids and has been effective to seal leaks and prevent future ones with minimal cost. But this might not be a long-term solution and you might have to consult with a mechanic for a permanent fix.