Car Basics: Power Steering

Car Basics: Power Steering

| By: Ed Carey, Christian Brothers Automotive Round Rock

Do you suddenly feel like you need the arms of Hercules to turn your steering wheel? If so, chances are you have a problem with your power steering system.

But don’t worry — repairs won’t likely break the bank. However, due to potential safety threats, problems with power steering require immediate attention from a trusted professional.

But what is power steering?

Power steering is pretty much what it sounds like: a power system that helps you turn the steering wheel with ease. Without it, your arms would likely be either very sore from driving or ridiculously strong.

Today’s systems go beyond just easing turns; power steering systems affect handling and can enhance the feel for the driver.

The three basic types:

Type 1 — Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS)

Also known as high pressure steering, HPS uses the power of the engine by means of a belt to circulate power steering fluid throughout the system.

Type 2 — Electric Power Hydraulic Steering (EPHS)

A true hybrid of Type 1 and Type 2, EPHS sends energy to a hydraulic pump from an electric motor instead of an engine-driven belt.

Type 3 — Electric Power Steering (EPS)

The EPS replaces the hydraulic pump with an electric motor. Rather than relying on the engine for power, the vehicle’s computer eases the steering process.

Signs of problems:

  • Whining or groaning noise when you turn the wheel
  • Squealing noises when you start your vehicle
  • Erratic steering response or slow response
  • Stiff steering wheel
  • Vibrating steering wheel
  • Reddish-brown puddle under car

Common Reasons for Power Steering Failure:

1. Contamination

Dirt, debris, moisture, and deteriorating steering components can contaminate power steering fluid. Contaminated power steering fluid can ultimately result in the failure of the power steering system. That’s why it’s important to have one our ASE-certified power-steering technicians flush your power steering fluid every 30,000 miles. Avoiding this service could cause the system to wear out prematurely.

2. Fluid loss

You may have a slow or sudden leak from worn or damaged hoses and failing seals. A leak will cause power steering fluid levels to drop, which will ultimately result in a stiff steering wheel. Low fluid can cause the power steering pump to overheat from inadequate lubrication, which shortens the life of the pump. Once the pump goes out, the power steering will fail, as well.

3. Pump failure

Like other parts on vehicles, steering pumps eventually wear out with age. As your pump wears out, the effort to steer your car increases, along with a resulting noise from your pump. If not serviced, a worn out pump can turn into pump failure, which leads to power steering failure.

4. Loss of power

If you’re driving a vehicle with an EPS system and it’s overheating, your system may automatically shut down to prevent damage. This may happen while you’re driving on steep, windy mountain roads. Once the temperature has returned to normal, your system will go back to working properly. However, if there is an ongoing problem that needs attention, the EPS indicator light will illuminate, and you may have ongoing trouble steering your vehicle.

When to see an expert:

If your vehicle makes noises when you turn, if it’s hard to control, or if your steering wheel response time is erratic, it’s time to see an expert.

At Christian Brothers Automotive Round Rock, our ASE-certified power-steering technicians are ready to assess the condition of your system. We proudly use BG power steering fluid and power steering system cleaners when performing a full power steering fluid flush on your vehicle.

If there’s a more serious problem, our professionals can provide you with options so you can make an informed decision for your vehicle.

Here’s what others have to say:

“Very professional staff. Identified the problem quickly.” — Ben

“Good service. Great recommendations. This business treats you and your concerns for your automobile as if it was their personal vehicle. Have used them for years and always pleased with their service.” — Steven

Drop in or schedule your appointment today. We can’t wait to serve you!

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