Common Power Steering Problems

Power steering makes your steering wheel easy to turn and helps you control your vehicle. If you’re having issues with the system, stop into an AutoZone for help diagnosing the problem, or check for one of these issues.

Causes for power steering problems

Person inspecting boot bellows for power steering issues

Fluid Leak

Low fluid levels due to a leak cause most power steering problems. A leak can allow air to enter the system and put stress on the power steering pump and other moving parts. If you experience tight steering, difficult turns or a growling sound that worsens during turns, low power steering fluid may be to blame. There are a few places you can check first to locate a leak. Fluid can leak out of the steering pump or reservoir, as well as the hoses or input shaft of the steering rack. Finding a leak in the boot bellows of the steering rack takes a little more effort. Check for these internal leaks by sliding the rubber boot bellow back off the housing (about two inches) and looking inside for power steering fluid. If fluid has accumulated inside the bellow, the rack seals are leaking. Be sure the wetness is power steering fluid and not assembly grease that has liquefied from heat over time.


Other causes of tight steering

Outside of a fluid leak, tight steering may occur due to a worn or slipping belt, a failing Power Steering Pump, or wear and tear of the moving parts in the rack. A rack issue is most likely to blame if the tightness occurs when turning in one direction only.


Causes of steering wander

Looseness in the wheel – known as steering wander – is a less obvious power steering problem that’s usually caused by rack bushings, inner tie rod ends, or other steering components that are worn or damaged. If the problem is caused by worn out rack bushings, you’ll hear and feel a popping noise through the steering wheel when you turn. If inner tie rod ends are causing the issue, you won’t experience the popping, but you may notice uneven tire wear.

Identifying a power steering issue and its possible causes can help you address problems as they arise. Visit your local AutoZone for help and trustworthy advice, or order parts from for the right part at the right price.

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