The Top 5 Causes of Power Steering System Damage
Power steering lowers the effort needed by drivers to steer and control their cars, which improves the driving experience. Most cars still use a hydraulic power steering system (HPS) to create the force necessary to move the wheels. However, manufacturers are starting to build cars using an electric power steering system (EPS). When problems arise in the hydraulic power steering system they can most often be attributed to faults in the fluid or pump, but sometimes belts or other factors are to blame.
At Christian Brothers Automotive, we have a solid record of expertise when it comes to handling the power steering system.
Today, some of our local technicians are drawing up the top 5 causes of hydraulic power steering system damage and how you can detect it.
One of the most critical elements of the whole system is the power steering fluid. Contamination of the fluid can happen when the pumps fail, hoses deteriorate or any outside moisture enters the fluid. Such problems all result in contamination of the fluid, likely causing small openings to plug up the steering system, an increase in friction, or even interference with the fluid’s hydraulic characteristics. Contamination may lead to the failure of a power steering component.
2. LOW FLUID and Fluid Leaks
A low power steering fluid level reduces the amount of hydraulic fluid pressure the pump can create. This also makes the pump work much harder, consequently wearing it out much faster. In addition, fluid is also used as a lubricant and coolant. If the components are lubricated or cooled improperly, the power steering system can be jeopardized. Failing to replace the fluid on time makes the wheel increasingly difficult to turn until it gives out altogether.
Damaged hoses and old, degraded seals are the biggest reasons for power steering leaks. An inadequate amount of fluid can cause the pump to wear out very quickly or even overheat. If this happens the pump is rendered useless and must be entirely replaced.
3. BROKEN BELT
A belt connected to the crankshaft of the engine usually energizes the power steering pump. When belts become worn, they can slip. There’s no way you’ll miss a belt slip or snap. Broken power steering belts will reduce your steering ability as soon as it fails. This is due to the inability of the belt to power the pump.
4. A WORN OUT PUMP
The aforementioned symptoms also lead to the pump being worn out. After a pump is worn, the car may become even more problematic if you try to drive. As your pump ages, you’ll start to hear pump noise and the force you need to steer increases. It’s always better to get the pump fixed sooner rather than later.
5. ELECTRONIC POWER STEERING MAINTENANCE
The EPS system takes advantage of an electric motor, so no fluid is required! This decreases the amount of routine maintenance this system needs. However, there’s still plenty of ways to damage your EPS. For example, it’s not advised to drive over bumpy or damaged roads at high speeds. Hard bumps and vibrations can cause damage to the steering rack.
You should also check to make sure the rubber protective coverings are still in good condition. If water, dust and dirt get into the steering wheel arch, it can cause rusting and other problems for the EPS system.
Easy Ways to Maintain Your Power Steering System
The ASE-certified technicians here at Christian Brothers Automotive are here to assist you with any power steering system problems while helping you avoid any more damage to your car.
If you follow these simple steps, your power steering system will always be in good condition:
- Have the High and Low-Pressure Hoses Checked. Power steering fluid is transported through two main hoses. One of the hoses adds high-pressure and the other returns it back to the fluid tank with low-pressure. It’s common for leaks to form in either of the two hoses. Thus they should be checked on a regular basis to make sure that they don’t rub against one each other and that any protective coverings remain intact.
- Change the Filter. Some drivers don’t even know there’s a power steering fluid filter. The filter should be changed every year unless indicated differently in the owner’s manual. It’s necessary to always keep the fluid clean so that it flows freely to reduce the wear-and-tear on the pump. It’s surprising how many contaminants make their way into the fluid’s tank. It’s the filters job to keep the contaminants out and the fluid clean.
- Inspect the Power Steering Fluid Regularly. Keeping the filter changed on a regular basis in addition to keeping the fluid free from contaminants means higher quality fluid. The quality of the fluid is able to be determined from home by sampling and inspecting the color, while making sure there are no pieces of dirt, metal, grime or other pieces of debris. When the fluid is darker, the quality is a lot lower. When the fluid is dark and also has many particles and debris floating in it as well, that’s when you know it’s time for the fluid to be flushed out and replaced.
LOCAL POWER STEERING EXPERTS At Christian Brothers
At Christian Brothers Automotive, most of our services are backed by the 2-year/24,000-mile Nice Difference warranty! This guarantees you the best of both auto repair quality and customer service. Give Christian Brothers Automotive a call today to schedule your power steering maintenance, and see the nice difference.