You are trying to parallel park your car in front of a building where you have an important meeting when you suddenly notice that it takes a lot of effort to turn the steering wheel. It takes you far longer than it should to park the car evenly and you are late for your meeting. This may be caused by a problem with your power steering. You will only have performance issues when the power steering fluid is at a dangerously low level.
Power steering is a modern convenience that makes low-speed driving easier. If you have ever attempted to drive a car without power steering, you know how difficult it can be to park and how it affects the precision of your driving. Power steering makes for a much more comfortable ride for you and your passengers. It also makes your car safer, because you can get out of harm’s way faster. When something goes wrong with your steering system, it is important to fix it right away.
The vast majority of cars use hydraulic oil for power steering systems. It is extremely important that the steering fluid is at the right level. Too much or too little fluid can make the fluid leak or cause the steering to malfunction. There are a few symptoms of a leak in the brake fluid of which you should be mindful.
Symptoms of Leaking Brake Fluid
Low Fluid Levels
Anyone who took driver’s education in high school knows that you should check the levels of coolant and oil in the car on a regular basis. However, it is just as important to check your levels of brake fluid.
The power steering of your car needs the appropriate amount of fuel to assist you in operating your car safely. The power steering rack may become damaged if you do not have the proper levels of fluid and that can mean some expensive repairs.
If you look in your power steering reservoir, you will see that there is a level indicator on the inside. If the fluid is too low, there is a good chance that you have a leak.
Maintaining the appropriate levels of fluid is important. If you use too much fluid, your valves and seals could collapse because of the pressure. If you do not use enough fluid, then there may not be enough force exerted to turn the steering wheel. It is important to replace your brake fluid in a timely fashion.
Liquid under your car is almost always a legitimate cause for concern. You should never assume it is just ordinary motor oil. You should always locate the source of the leak and the type of oil that is coming out of the car.
In order to make sure the leak is not coming from your power steering, you should wipe down the reservoir and the lines going into it and check for cracks. Check your lines carefully to see where the fluid is coming from.
There are several different types of oil in your car and they can be identified by color and smell. Both automatic transmission fluid and brake fluid are a reddish-brown color. When brake fluid gets old, it will take on a more solid brown color. Both brake fluid and transmission fluid will be thinner than motor oil. They both have an oily feel to them. Steering fluid smells a bit sweet like roasted marshmallows. Transmission fluid smells more like petroleum.
The Car Makes a Squealing Noise
Some older cars make a squealing sound when their brake fluid is depleted. It may sound like a chirp or a shriek. This is most likely to happen when you are parking or turning at a slow speed. It may also happen when you turn your steering wheel sharply in one direction or another.
If your car makes a loud groaning noise, it is indicative of a severe problem with your power steering system. You may not only have to get the pump replaced but the steering rack and lines as well.
Poor Steering Performance
When your car cannot steer properly, it means that the fluid is at a critically low level. When power steering goes out, you will notice that you will have a much harder time parking because it will be much more difficult to turn the steering wheel.
You should not operate your car at this point lest you should do serious damage to the steering fluid rack. You are likely to have a serious fluid leak.
The Fluid May Be Contaminated
When a force pushes on a liquid to create motion it is considered to be a hydraulic system. This is the kind of system that power steering uses. Hydraulic systems are able to exert exceptionally high levels of force without much energy input. It is an efficient way to control an automobile.
The hydraulic fluid must be clean in order for the system to work. When the fluid is contaminated, it can destroy fittings. The steering system may become clogged and this will increase the friction. A clogged system can cause the failure of certain parts of your car, such as the pump. Your owner’s manual should tell you how often you need to change the brake fluid.
Broken Belts May Signal a Problem with Power Steering
An engine-powered pump makes power steering possible. A car’s engine is attached to its power steering pump. Whenever there is corrosion stretching, fraying, or breakage of the pump, it can cause an instant system failure. It is important to have your power steering belt checked regularly and to replace it if it shows any sign of damage.
The Steering Pump May be Damaged
The pump is the main component of a power steering system. If your car is in motion, you are using the pump. Pumps wear out just like every other component of the car. If there is a lot of strain on a pump, it may fail before its time. If your pump is noisy when you make a turn it may need to be replaced.
There is Too Much Force on the Car
Power steering is designed to endure some rough road conditions. It should be able to survive potholes and other hard jolts against the vehicle’s wheels. However, steering system components may break if too much stress is put on them very quickly. Rough roads can hurt your power steering and they should be avoided. Some cars come with steering pumps that are made to handle these kinds of obstacles.
Stiff Steering Wheel
If the steering wheel responds slowly or if it feels stiff, it is a good sign that the pump is failing.
How to Prevent Power Steering Damage
If you are not a car wiz, you may think that power brake system maintenance would be over your head. However, there are a few simple things that you can do to preserve your system. You can drive safely and your car will not experience the strain that so many cars do.
Power steering fluid goes through a high-pressure hose and a low-pressure hose. Leaks can come from either side, so you will want to make sure to check both sides.
Check Your Steering Fluid
You should get in the habit of checking all of your vehicle’s fluids every time you check your oil. This should include your brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid. When the steering fluid is low or looks dirty, you should have your system flushed, it only cost about $100. It can cost as much as $600 to have a power steering pump replaced.
Fixing a Leak
If you need to have your pump replaced, you will probably have to go to a professional mechanic. If you simply have a power steering fluid leak, you can temporarily fix the problem with stop leak.
When your vehicle is turned off, remove the cap of your power steering reservoir. You may want to wipe off the cap first. You should pour the recommended amount of stop leak into the reservoir. You then want to replace the cap and go for a drive. It can take a couple of days for the break leak to completely dry.
If your steering rack and lines end up getting damaged as a result of a bad pump, it will cost you between $640 to $1,200 for steering rack replacement. You may want to consider whether you should have the repairs done or if it is time for a new car. It is probably not worth it to get such an expensive repair done on a car that is more than a few years old.
If you decide to get your car repaired you will have a couple of options for getting the work done.
Taking Your Car to The Dealership Shop
Dealership mechanics are notorious for charging too much for repairs. However, if you have a rare car, it may be worth it to take your car to them. You should know that the mechanic at the dealership will have special training in your make and model of car. They will have any necessary part on hand, so you should have a faster turn around time. They will charge you by the job instead of by the hour, so you will not have any surprises when you get your bill.
Taking Your Car to an Autobody Shop
Most people prefer to take their cars to an auto body shop for repairs, THey are less expensive than dealerships and you can talk to the mechanic directly. You should always ask a mechanic what kind of training they have and if they are certified in your make of car. You will find a list of recommended mechanics on the AAA website.
If you decide to sell your car, you will have a few options for how to get rid of it. You should explore all of these options thoroughly before deciding what to do.
Use Your Car as a Trade-In
When you buy your new car, the dealership will offer you a trade-in allowance for your old car. They will probably not offer you what your car is really worth. They will rely on your being too lazy to get other offers on your car. You should call junk yards first and let the salesman at the dealership know that you have done your homework.
Sell Your Car Online
If you Google, “sell my used car” a whole bunch of websites will come up. These sites will allow you to list your car for a monthly fee. They even have packages that are good for several months. The reason they give you such long term advertising is that it may take you months to unload your car. Once you do get a prospective buyer, you will have to make time to show them the car and they may decide not to buy it. You may have to show the car a few times before selling it and people who by cars on such sites may try to haggle with you over price.
Sell Your Car to Us
Cash Cars Buyers is far and away the best place to sell your used or junk car. Our process is simple. All you have to do is fill out our form. We will ask you for your name, email address, and phone number. We will also ask for your make, model, VIN number, and year of the car.
When we get your information, we will call you back with an offer. If you accept our offer, we will make an appointment to come and get your car. We will arrive on time, pay you in cash, and tow the car away for free. We often pay $500 for junk cars, so be sure to get your offer today.