Top 5 Things to Do to Keep Your Car’s Power Steering in Good Shape

jeep steering wheel

The power steering system is probably one of the biggest conveniences in modern motoring. Without it, you need to exert a great amount of effort just to turn your vehicle a few inches towards your desired direction. This is definitely difficult, not to mention impractical and unsuitable in major thoroughfares used by thousands of people every day.

The thing is, some car owners don’t bother to check on the condition of the power steering system until they experience difficulties in manoeuvring. By that time, they’re probably already experiencing other issues such as drifting, uneven tyre wear, and more.

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your car’s power steering in good condition. Here are some important things to remember for a safe driving experience:

Change a Bad Pump ASAP

Arguably the most important part of the power steering system is the hydraulic pump, which delivers the power steering fluid to all the components. If this pump fails, the system will not receive proper lubrication. This results in increased friction and heat, leading to bigger, costlier damage not just to the power steering system but also to the engine.

A big indicator of a failing power steering pump is a groaning or whining sound whenever you turn the wheel. Have it checked and replaced ASAP to avoid further problems. Of course, make sure to purchase parts from a trusted auto-parts supplier so you can be assured of long-lasting quality.

Top Up and Flush the Fluid Regularly

Sometimes, you’ll also hear the above-mentioned groaning or whining sound even when the power steering pump is in good shape. If this is the case, the issue might be insufficient power steering fluid. Simply top up the fluid and make sure that it doesn’t exceed the maximum level.

While you’re at it, you should also check whether the fluid is contaminated. Clean power steering fluid is usually red or pink in colour (sometimes clear, depending on the brand). If it has turned into a rusty or brownish shade, or if you can see debris floating in the liquid, then it’s time for a flush.

Flushing and bleeding the power steering fluid can be done at the same time as the oil change, so it’s easier to keep track. However, make sure to still check the fluid from time to time to make sure that it’s still in good condition. Dirty power steering fluid can affect steering performance, not to mention cause premature damage to the system’s components.

Check for Leaks

Do you find yourself replenishing your car’s power steering fluid too often? There might be a leak somewhere that needs to be addressed. It could be in the reservoir itself, the hoses, or somewhere in the pump. Either way, you need to find and fix the leak quickly to prevent any further damage—and to save yourself from the cost of buying bottle after bottle of power steering fluid.

One thing that may suggest a possible leak is a reddish or pinkish brown puddle of liquid under your vehicle. You may also notice that it’s harder to turn the steering wheel. And as previously mentioned, short intervals between fluid top-ups can also be indicative of a leak.

Bring your car to a professional mechanic so that they can confirm the issue and replace the necessary parts.

Change the Filter Annually

You might not be aware, but just like the engine and air conditioning, your car’s power steering system also has a filter. This prevents contaminants from getting into the parts and causing problems such as:

  • reduced steering effectiveness

  • hardened seals, leading to premature wear and tear

  • damaged rack and pinion

The latter one is something that you should definitely avoid, since it’s quite costly to repair or replace these parts. 

Do note that most vehicles can last for about a year or longer before you have to replace the power steering fluid filter. However, check the owner’s manual to verify. Your car’s manufacturer will usually have a recommended schedule for optimum performance.

Inspect the Hoses

Your car’s power steering system has two hoses: one that delivers the fluid to the rack and pinion, and one that returns the fluid to the reservoir. These are made from rubber, which undergoes natural wear and tear over time.

Collisions, extreme temperatures, and other external factors can speed up this wear and tear, and also cause issues such as cracks and punctures. Make sure to replace damaged power steering hoses to ensure the proper distribution of the fluid and maintain peak function.

 

Your car’s power steering system might not get enough attention like other components—like the engine or the brakes, for instance—but it’s definitely a big part of driving comfort and performance. Keep these things in mind to keep the power steering in good shape and ensure your safety and convenience for years to come. 

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