Modern vehicles are all equipped with a power steering pump to make driving much easier. Through general use, or severe conditions, the power steering pump can start to leak. Leaking fluid will make the steering to be less responsive and cause the steering wheel to get much harder to turn. Knowing the signs of a failing power steering pump can keep you from an accident or more damage to the steering parts.
1. Low Fluid
Leaking pump fluid is a direct result of a failing pump. If you notice a problem with low fluid levels, top it up and monitor it carefully. A leak will become quickly noticeable when your car can’t hold fluid. This problem can be caused by other damage in the power steering system, example a cracked reservoir, so be sure to check for other signs related to a power steering pump to isolate the source of the problem.
2. Stains on ground
If you don’t experience a low fluid right away, or your car’s indicator for low fluid hasn’t indicated low, one of the most telltale indications of a fluid leak is stains on the driveway near the front of the vehicle. Power steering fluid is dark in color and will be found around the area of the driver’s side near the front tire. Since a leak is one of the most direct symptoms of a failing pump, it should always be among the parts you check upon discovering a problem.
A faulty pump can actually create a squealing noise in a few different places. Sometimes you will hear this noise as you drive around sharp corners, but it can also happen when you’re driving slowly, when you’re turning the wheel, or just for a few seconds under the hood when you first start the vehicle. Any of these are a good signs that you need a replacement.
4. Hard Steering
When there is sufficient fluid in the pump, the steering wheel will glide without a lot of effort, but if the pump is leaking, or there is air is inside, the steering will be quite hard and stiff, especially when driving slowly or during colder months.
5. Erratic Behavior
The steering wheel will start to work with or without power steering during driving, constantly changing how hard it will be for you to steer. Also, when you’re driving slowly and turning the wheel, it may feel like there is a delay for many seconds before the car responds. This can show that there is air buildup, the pump is leaking, or it is not pushing the fluid as it should.
If you notice any of these problems with your vehicle, you need to take it to get serviced immediately.