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What To Do If You Have a Bad Power Steering Pump

Bad Power Steering Pump

Yes, you can get your car running with a bad power steering pump. But that may not be the best idea. A car’s power steering pump is in charge of the steering control of your vehicle. Without it, no vehicle will function optimally. This article is meant to get you through all you need to know what to do when your car’s power steering pump goes bad and why it happens

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You may need to know more about what a power steering pump does to understand what to do when it is damaged. Put simply, the power steering pump is the component that makes it possible for car owners to drive easily. There are two main power steering systems- hydraulic and electronic. The center of these steering symptoms is the power steering pump. The pump gets the needed fluid pressure into the system to augment steering effort to the steering wheel.


There are different types of power steering pumps. The most common are listed for you below.


Among this list, the vane power steering pump is the most commonly used. As its name suggests, it has a rotor and vanes. This power steering pump traps fluid inside it. The fluid is pumped and delivered into the outlet chambers. 


Like the vane power steering pump, the slipper pump also has a rotor. The rotor is stationed in the oval-shaped chamber and rotates inside. The slippers are connected to the rotor through a spring. These slippers make constant friction with the pump’s wall. These consecutive motions build pressure which in turn pumps the fluid into the power steering system.


Unlike the slipper power steering pumps that use “slippers”, the roller type employs V-shaped grooves cut into the rotor. This type of pump uses centrifugal force to move the rollers and trap the fluid. The pressure forces out the fluid into the outlets powering the steering system.


Now that you know the importance of a working power steering pump, you will understand the risks of driving with a bad or damaged one. The following sections will delve into the symptoms of a bad power steering pump, why it goes out, the possibility of driving a car with a damaged power steering pump, and some information about the power steering pulley. 

What are the symptoms of a bad power steering pump?

Most of the symptoms you will find in this section are concerning the noises that your vehicle makes. Whatever damage there is in a vehicle, noises are not normal for a fully functioning automobile. There are also other symptoms you can easily detect which are discussed here.

  • Your car makes whining noises when you turn the steering wheel

This symptom is the earliest you may notice with your vehicle. You will hear a whining noise when you have a bad power steering pump. Once you hear this noise when you turn the steering wheel, you may find that there is a leak in the power steering pump. There are also instances that the whining noises are heard due to the low level of power steering fluid pumped in the system.


You can lessen the whining noises if you make sure that the level of power steering fluid is sufficient. If you’ve already checked and if the whining continues with enough fluid, you may consider getting your vehicle checked by a technician.

  • The steering wheel responds slower than normal

A car’s steering wheel is made to respond automatically when you turn it. If you notice a delay in your steering wheel’s response, you may have a faulted power steering pump. There may be other factors why the steering wheel is slow to respond. Such factors may include loose tie rod ends, malfunctioning steering gearbox, or defective steering column parts. Whatever the case, you need to replace your steering wheel in this situation.


In some instances, you may experience a stiff steering wheel. Another symptom that you have a bad power steering pump is when the steering wheel is difficult to turn. You may consult a certified technician for this problem and get your steering pump checked and fixed. A bad power steering pump is better off replaced.

  • You hear squealing noises when you turn the ignition key

Squealing noises are normal if you make abrupt turns while driving. However, these noises are not meant to occur when you turn in the key to the ignition. If this happens, a bad power steering pump is usually the problem. Get your car checked right away. 


You can't always prevent a bad power steering pump. Nevertheless, you can easily detect these symptoms that point you to the problem. Watch for these warning signs and attend to the issue right away. A bad power steering pump can easily become a serious problem if not resolved quickly.

What happens when the power steering pump goes out?

As has been mentioned in the earlier section, the power steering fluid is one factor why the power steering pump goes out. There are different reasons why the power steering pump goes out or turns bad. The most common are the following:

  • Your car has a low level of power steering fluid

Loss of power steering fluid is a sign of a leak in the power steering system. A drop in your power steering fluid level indicates a leak somewhere in the system. Check the hydraulic pump to ensure that fluid is enough.


Low levels of power steering fluid can be easily solved on your own. However, some factors affect the power steering pump that you may need professional help with.

  • Your car’s hydraulic pump is damaged

Drained power steering fluid not only damages the power steering pump but the hydraulic pump as well. Damaged hydraulic pumps can result in groaning noises from your vehicle. It could be dangerous for you to drive if you have a faulty damaged pump since you may lose steering assist altogether.


There are different types of a hydraulic pump. A hydraulic pump's lifespan is not easy to determine. Worn-out hydraulic pumps are not surprising due to the exhausting role they play in the system. You need to replace worn-out hydraulic pumps immediately. Remember to replace your damaged pump with one of the same make or one with similar operating specs. Once you replace your car's hydraulic pump, be sure to change and refill the hydraulic fluid as well.

  • Your car’s serpentine belt is slipping or has snapped

The serpentine belt is needed for the hydraulic pump to spin. If the belt snaps or slips, the hydraulic pump is left without the power to rotate. This in turn will cause the system to be unable to deliver hydraulic fluid.

Can you drive a car with a bad power steering pump?

Yes, you can still drive your car even with a bad power steering pump. Though this may be the case, driving with a damaged steering pump is not without a consequence. Driving your car when the power steering pump needs repair can negatively affect the rotary control in the engine. This will make it more difficult for you to control your steering wheel. 


With that said, the intensity of the risk can be realized. You must not drive your car with a bad power steering pump unless there is an emergency. A car with a bad steering pump would be harder to manipulate. Higher gearing is a requisite for a power steering rack or pump. The reason behind this is that power steering takes less effort from the driver. Compared to a manual that needs 3 full turns on the steering wheel to divert from left to right, a car with a working power steering pump only requires 1 full rotation to do so. 


Driving on highways is a breeze but there can be moments when the steering can become a bit heavy. Take driving to the exit ramp of a parking lot as an example. You can observe the difference between driving in a straight line and making a U-turn. The steering will always be impeded and you will have a hard time managing turns that are not wide in angle. You would probably feel like you are driving a giant trailer truck when you try to steer with a bad power steering pump. 


As mentioned earlier, it is doable to control your car with a defective steering rack but there is a limit to the time you can use it in such conditions. You will have to make repairs in the long run. You will save on other serious problems for your car if you address the problem with the power steering pump right away. Since the power steering pump is related to the manipulation of the unit, not to mention the car's front wheels, it is a matter of safety to replace it as soon as it turns bad. 


Driving for long hours is normally a tiring activity. Power steering pumps are meant to make your driving a little less tiring. So take off-site to power remove to power load off driving with a bad power steering pump to avoid other damages that come with it. Here is a list of the cost included in replacing or repairing a power steering pump: 


The cost of labor to repair a bad power steering pump ranges from 50 to 125 dollars. The repair will take an average of 2 hours to finish. This cost also depends on what type of car you drive since local and foreign cars extremely differ. The labor cost does not include the actual cost of repair. 


On average, the price of repairing a bad power steering rack can reach up to 200 to 350 dollars. This cost relies on the equipment your car will need to repair the damaged power steering pump. 


If the bad power steering pump is beyond getting fixed, you can have it replaced with a new one. You may also choose if you want it done by a mechanic or take your car to a shop. Getting the job done by a shop can be more expensive though. The cost of replacement for a bad power steering pump starts at 200 dollars and may reach a staggering 500 dollars. 


Can a power steering pump be repaired?

Yes, you can repair your power steering pump. However, the repair depends on what type of damage your steering pump has. In most cases, it is better to have it replaced rather than repaired. Here are some of the problems where a repair makes the cut. 


Just as important as the steering pump is the power steering pump fluid. Once this fluid leaks, the pump can suffer some damages. You cannot let your steering pump run dry for this can result in overheating which can ultimately damage your engine. Thankfully, fixing this problem is simple. You just have to seal the leak. 


Clogging in your power steering pump is caused by the movement of fluid through the system. The first thing you must do if you have a clogged power steering pump is to turn off the engine. Make sure to remove the belt drive and then drain the fluid from the power steering pump. 


The power steering pulley is linked to the pump.  If you are having problems with your power steering pump, inspecting the power steering pulley can help alleviate the situation. In some cases, a loose pulley causes the steering pump to turn bad. Simply tighten the belt or stirring pulley to adjust and fix the bad power steering pump. 


In this article, you learned that a bad power steering pump spells trouble. All in all the components of your car are interrelated with one another. The systems that help your car operate usually show signs that will let you know when they are about to fail. You must be keen on recognizing these symptoms because the quality and safety of your driving depend on them. As soon as you determine what seems to be the problem, contact a mechanic or take your vehicle to a shop right away.


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