Tell-Tale Signs That Your Power Steering Pump Is Going Bad

One of the most critical components of your car’s power steering system is the power steering pump. This component makes it possible for your vehicle to quickly turn and get you to your destination. But like all man-made things, these pumps can suffer from wear and tear damage.

Car components tend to deteriorate in condition over time. A damaged power steering pump will affect your vehicle’s ability to perform properly. To avoid any major repairs that will put your car out of commission for a time, it’s important to identify when your power steering pump is about to give out.

This piece will identify some of the bad power steering pump symptoms that will give you a heads up on whether you have to make changes. Moreover, this piece will suggest steps you can take to take better care of your pump and your entire power steering system.

Symptom #1: Leaking Power Steering Fluids

One of the first (and most urgent) signs of a bad power steering pump is fluid leaks. If your car leaves a puddle of liquid whenever you take it out of the garage, it’s a red flag that must be addressed immediately.

It’s important to have your vehicle checked at the first sign of fluid leaks because your car contains different kinds of fluids. If you notice a dip in your power steering’s performance, your pump is likely experiencing problems.

Symptom #2: Increased Difficulty in Using Your Steering Wheel

Another tell-tale symptom of a damaged power steering pump is an increased difficulty turning your steering wheel. Vehicles with power steering should be easy to maneuver, so any sort of resistance from the steering wheel should immediately be a primary concern.

Compared to the first symptom, it’s easier to narrow down the problem to your power steering system since your car’s handling is the main issue.

Symptom #3: Noticeable Drop in Power Steering Fluid Levels

During a car inspection, make sure the fluids are still at an acceptable level. Pay attention to the power steering fluid levels; they might be lower than expected.

There are various reasons why your fluid may be lower than expected, but one of the most common causes for this is a damaged power steering pump.

Symptom #4: Your Steering Wheel Makes Strange Noises

Besides becoming more difficult to turn around, another common symptom that will point to a damaged pump is your steering wheel's noises whenever you turn it. These noises obviously point to an issue that is affecting your steering system.

The noises that your steering wheel makes can point to several possible causes of the problem. 

A whining noise points to a possible leak in the pump itself. A squealing noise points to the pump letting the belt slip. A groaning noise means a serious problem for the entire steering system.

Symptom #5: Chrome Flakes Are in the Fluid

Another severe symptom of a problematic power steering pump requiring urgent action is finding metal flakes within the fluid container. Debris isn’t a part of the liquid, and it only means that the pump is already damaged enough to start chipping off.

If left unaddressed, the pump might break down and significantly affect your car’s performance.

Common Causes of Power Steering Pump Failure

The symptoms we listed above are caused by different reasons. But all of them point to one clear truth: your power steering system’s pump is on its last legs. Some of these happen all of a sudden, while others are results of the passage of time.

If there isn’t enough power steering fluid, your car will lack the lubrication to function properly. A snapped belt could also limit a power steering pump’s ability to perform its task. Contaminated fluid also affects a power steering pump’s ability to work on things.

However, one of the more common reasons for your steering pump’s malfunctions can be pointed back to the years of service the pump has rendered. While this is a good problem to have, it also means that having your pump changed should be done immediately.

How to Care for Your Steering Pump

In order to prevent these problems from affecting your power steering system, it’s important that you take proactive steps in maintaining your pump. These steps will ensure that the power steering pump is always under the best conditions to function properly.

One of the most common practices in caring for your power steering system is constantly checking the power steering fluid level in the car. This fluid is the lifeline of your power steering system, so it’s important to make sure that it’s always at acceptable levels.

Another item you should add to your maintenance checklist is checking the high- and low-pressure hoses. The power steering fluid enters and exits the system through these pipes. If they have any leaks, they eventually cause a shortage of fluids and more heat and damage to the pump.

By changing your power steering system’s filters regularly, you make sure that the circulating fluids aren’t contaminated with solids. These filters eventually stop doing their work over time, so it’s critical to change your filters at regular intervals. This way, you can always make sure that the power steering fluid is always clean.

Our final maintenance tip is to replace the pump if so needed. An old pump is more at risk of incurring damage, so switching to a new pump ensures that you wouldn’t have to worry about it breaking down anytime soon.

How Does a Power Steering Pump Function?

A power steering pump pushes the power steering fluid into the steering gearbox, which in turn affects the performance of the entire power steering system. No mechanic would bat an eye if you liken the pump’s function to a human heart.

Small ports open in the sheering shaft when you turn your steering wheel, and the gearbox is immediately injected with high-pressure fluid to help the entire system turn with less effort.

Other Common Power Steering Problems

Your power steering pump’s problems aren’t the only thing affecting how easy your car turns. There are other issues that serve as potential causes for a sudden increase in the difficulty of turning your vehicle.

A fluid leak isn’t the only reason your steering wheel suddenly became harder to turn. Anything from poorly inflated tires to bad steering gear and clogged steering lines can hamper your vehicle’s handling.

If you feel the bumps on the road from your steering wheel, there is a problem in the entire architecture. Loose links to the tie-rod end, worn or damaged steering column U-point, and loose steering wheel mounting bolts affect your power steering pump.

If your car pulls to the side of the road whenever you let it go, it points to a problem in the steering system. Anything from tire damage to worn or damaged tie-rod end links can cause this problem.

Another power steering issue is the steering wheel refusing to return after making a turn. This problem is caused by multiple things such as sticky steering gears, column U-joints, and column bearings.

Have a Professional Mechanic Look To Your Power Steering

The symptoms we listed above should help you have a better idea of the condition of your power steering pump. Being on top of the pump's condition will let you have better control over your car.

If you need professional assistance with your power steering or any other part of your car, choose a reliable service near you. Auto Works of Brandon is a trusted name when it comes to providing auto services in the area. Our mechanics are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to address your car issues. Visit our business location or fill out our form to book an appointment with one of our mechanics.

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