Steering problems? Heed The Warning Signs

Steering a vehicle without power steering is like climbing stairs versus using the elevator. It can be done but the effort may be exhausting.

The steering system is an essential safety component of your vehicle. As such, it requires regular maintenance to operate properly.

Power steering might be one of your vehicle’s most underappreciated technologies. But as the miles build up, contaminants inside the system can degrade performance.

“Without power steering the effort becomes much more difficult, to the point that it is almost impossible to steer the vehicle without it,” said Jefferson Bryant of NAPA Auto Parts.

Heat and age cause plastic materials and hoses to deteriorate. Power steering fluid collects these contaminants and recycles them through the system. Since the power steering system does not contain a filter, replacing fluid becomes important.

“Maintaining the function of your power steering system is critical for daily use,” Bryant said. “Over time, contaminants and wear will reduce the efficiency of your power steering pump.

 “Eventually, this will cause lower internal hydraulic pressure and leaks. Symptoms of these issues include harder steering, pump groan, and in really bad cases, a steering wheel that turns itself due to a plugged or stuck valve.”

The solution? Flushing the power steering fluid at recommended intervals.

Your vehicle manufacturer offers recommendations for how often your specific model needs a power steering fluid service.

  • Steering noises. If you hear squealing when the wheel is turning or the wheels begin to turn in a jerky motion it could be a problem with the power steering system.
  • Difficulty turning the wheel. Power steering fluid is a vital fluid that helps the driver control an automobile. The system proves especially useful at slower speeds, when a vehicle’s weight can make it harder to maneuver.
  • Driving on old fluid. Power steering fluid doesn’t last forever. As it is subjected to prolonged use and heat over time, the fluid is susceptible to breaking down as it ages.
  • Check for service intervals. Your vehicle handbook will let you know if and when a power steering fluid exchange is required.

Ask your service advisor if you are experiencing steering symptoms. A power steering fluid exchange replaces old fluid with fresh power steering fluid. Properly maintained fluid keeps your power steering working correctly. It prevents component failure and helps prevent the need for expensive repairs.