Common Power Steering Problems
Power steering makes your wheel easy to turn and helps you control your vehicle. If you're having issues with the system, one of these may be the cause.
Low fluid levels due to a leak, cause most power steering problems. Because of a leak, air enters the system and puts stress on the pump and other moving parts. If you experience tight steering, difficult turns and a growling sound that worsens during turns, low power steering fluid maybe to blame.
There are a few places you can check first to locate the leak. Fluid can leak out of the steering pump or reservoir as well as the hoses or input shaft of the steering rack. A leak in the boot bellows is less immediately visible. Check for 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 liquified from heat over time.
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 inside the rack. A rack issue is most likely to blame if the tightness occurs when turning in one direction only.
Looseness in the wheel, known as steering wander, is a less obvious power steering problem. It'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 feel a popping noise through the steering wheel when you turn. If inner tie-rods 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 or AutoZone.com for all the information and products you need to keep driving safely.