Many people have a common misconception that diagnosing power steering problems is a herculean task. But in reality, it is actually much easier. You just need to follow some tips and techniques for troubleshooting power steering problems…
Nowadays, all cars come with power steering, which enables the driver to steer more efficiently without using much physical energy. If the power steering is used for a considerable period of time, it may start to give some problems. It is important to diagnose and repair car problems as early as possible, but you need not necessarily take the vehicle to the garage. There are some easy power steering repair techniques which you can use for diagnosing problems.
Power Steering Repair Tips
Here are a few tips that will help you diagnose what is wrong with your power steering. This can be something very simple, like incorrect tire pressure, or something complex, like a pump or other component that needs replacement. If due to a minor problem, chances are you will not have to take the car to a garage or a mechanic, you can troubleshoot the problem yourself. However, for anything major, your car will have to be shown to a mechanic, unless you are skilled at working on cars yourself.
Start your troubleshooting by inspecting the tire pressure. As mentioned earlier, problems can be caused by incorrect or low tire pressure, something that usually goes undetected while looking for problems. Low tire pressure will make the steering harder to operate, and will require more effort to steer. Inflating the tires to the correct pressure will get rid of the problem.
If you feel that the steering has become very hard to steer, you need to inspect the level of fluid. If the fluid level is lower than needed, the steering would be hard to turn. Replacing power steering fluid is recommended in such a case.
There may even be a chance of an improper alignment of the front suspension. Misalignment in the suspension can also cause steering problems. Note that the front suspension will be the culprit. If this is the reason, then re-align the suspension as per the recommended specifications.
Leakage of fluid can also be a cause of steering problems, and this also means that you will be having low fluid problems regularly. Ensure that there is no major leakage in the pump or gear by inspecting the pump pressure. If there are any parts that need replacement, replace immediately. If required change or replace the whole pump entirely. Also check if the pump belt is loose, if it is, tighten it.
The steering may also be hard to turn if the amount of lubricant in the suspension or the ball joints is insufficient. You would need to lubricate, or even replace parts if necessary.
Turn on the engine, and request someone to turn the steering wheel while you listen to the noise coming from the steering pump. If the pump is making a screechy and loud sound, then probably the belt is slipping. If so, adjust the belt properly. The noise may also be a result of insufficient steering fluid. Add the fluid if necessary, and then turn the wheel entirely to the left and right side several times to allow air to purge from the system.
Inspect if there are any worn out components at the column of the steering, steering assembly, connecting arms at both ends, and most importantly, the steering assembly mounting brackets. Such worn out components may be a reason for loud noises and an unreasonable play at the steering wheel.
Diagnosing power steering problems also includes examining the steering pump, connection pipes, and lines through the steering assembly to check for possible leakages. If you often add fluid to the steering pump, there is a possibility of the steering system springing a leak. If there is a leak, fix it and clean all the assembly components with tatter. You also need to inspect for a loose hose clinch, damaged pipe, and crack on the steering pump. If the problems are severe, you may even have to rebuild the power steering.
Power steering noise problems can certainly be troubleshot without taking the vehicle to the garage. But if the problem remains unsolved despite the aforementioned troubleshooting steps, it is suggested to take the vehicle to an auto shop for further diagnoses and repair. Use a floor jack to lift the front of the vehicle and safely support it on jack stands. Request someone to joggle each of the front wheels, and check for damaged or loose parts from the wheel assembly connection to the steering system assembly.
For efficient functioning, you need to take proper care of the system assembly and get it checked regularly by a reputed auto mechanic.