Have you started noticing a lack of response from your steering wheel and you are thinking that your car suffers from power steering pump symptoms? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem like this can be really frustrating to deal with. Why I’m saying this? Well, because that’s the case. Without power steering, you will end up with a car that drives like cars made back in the 50s.
Back in the day, power steering was only an option. And an expensive option to be honest. So, not a lot of cars came equipped with it. People were forced to use regular steering. And this type of steering is really painful to use. If you want to do an arm workout, you should try driving these cars. So, you understand how big of a deal power steering was when it was first introduced.
People gave all their savings to get a car with this option and finally to enjoy driving their cars. So, whenever you notice power steering pump symptoms you need to react, and we are going to help you out.
First, we are going to cover how power steering works and the two types of power steering. Then, we will cover the power steering pump and its importance. Then we are going to learn more about the power steering pump symptoms and see how they are represented. Lastly, we will learn how you can tell that your pump is bad and a power steering pump replacement. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
How Does Power Steering Work?
Now let’s cover some of the basics and learn more about the power steering and its basics. I bet that there are a ton of people who are not into cars and want to learn this stuff before they move on to more complex topics such as the power steering pump symptoms. So, the following chapters are for them.
Power steering is basically a steering assist on your car. This is a special system that helps you steer the vehicle and make sure that you are able to turn the wheels when needed with ease.
As you probably know, by nature, steering systems are really heavy. So, we humans need some kind of assistance to make our lives easier and help us steer the cars.
This is why power steering systems were invented. The first power steering system was invented in 1876 and the first practical use was on a Columbia 5-ton truck back in 1903. But it passed nearly half a century until these systems were implemented on cars.
The first car that used this system was the Chrysler Imperial back in 1951 and was included only as an option. And this was the case, until the 90s when these systems became the standard. So, nowadays 99% of cars have power steering systems. But what are the different types of power steering systems out there? Let’s check them out before we discuss the power steering pump symptoms.
Types Of Power Steering
Now before we jump into the power steering pump symptoms, let’s learn more about the different types of power steering. So, whenever you have a problem with a power steering pump you will only have one of these types. This problem can only happen on one type of power steering. So, if you have one of the other two, then you probably don’t have a problem with a power steering pump. So, what are the different types? Let’s elaborate.
The first type that we are going to cover is the electric power steering. Electric power steering is now becoming more and more common because it uses an electric motor to achieve the same goal as old-school power steering systems.
What is worth mentioning about this type of power steering is that it does not implement any kind of pump or fluid. This means that this type of steering is not the one that you have.
The next type of power steering is the electro-hydraulic type of power steering. This type of power steering uses a pump. This pump is driven by an electric motor. What is worth noting is that these systems are pretty rare and mostly used on some Japanese brands or Volkswagen cars.
And the last on our list is the hydraulic power steering that is belt-driven. Also known as the old school power steering. That is driven by a hydraulic pump which is driven by the serpentine belt. But how this pump works? Let’s elaborate more on that before we cover the power steering pump symptoms.
What Is A Power Steering Pump?
Now before we cover the power steering pump symptoms. Let’s learn more about how this type of power steering works in general.
As you probably know this is a hydraulic power steering. This means that the power steering needs to be pushed in order so the steering feels light.
For this, in charge is the power steering pump. This is a special hydraulic pump that is belt-driven. This means that the power steering is driven by the crankshaft with the help of the serpentine belt on the car.
This pump is a mechanical device that consists of many parts. So, eventually, it will show its downsides and will start to fail.
If you didn’t know, the mileage accumulates and these pumps especially if they are run with dirty power steering fluid can get damaged, can leak, and possibly fail completely. But what are the power steering pump symptoms?
Well, that’s what we are going to cover next in the following chapters where we will elaborate more on these symptoms in detail so you get a good perspective of what could go wrong with your power steering pump.
Bad Power Steering Pump Symptoms
Now let’s move on to the most important topic in this article for us. And that are the power steering pump symptoms, what type of symptoms can you expect when this power steering pump can fail?
Knowing these symptoms will greatly help you when it comes to diagnosing problems with the power steering and learning how to overcome this problem quickly and effectively. So, let’s cover them in the next chapters.
1. Low Power Steering Fluid
Now let’s cover the first in our list of power steering pump symptoms. The first symptom that you need to be aware of is the low power steering fluid.
This situation can be caused by leaks. This power steering pump has some fittings and seals that can wear out. And when these seals wear out, you are basically ending up with a non-working power steering pump.
So, it is really essential for you to check the connections where the power steering lines go and around the power steering pump.
See if there are leaks around the hoses and fittings and if you notice grease spots then here lies your problem. You need to try to fix these leaks and then top off the power steering with fresh fluid. Also, replace the old fluid as well. Then you will probably not have to deal with these power steering pump symptoms anymore.
Sometimes the problem is in the little things like in this case. Doing this repair of fixing the leaks will guarantee that your power steering pump will run for a very long time and that no more power steering pump symptoms will be present.
2. Dirty Power Steering Fluid
The next in our list of power steering symptoms is the situation when you have a dirty power steering fluid inside of the power steering fluid canister.
This will be the case if the fluid was never changed. And in most cases, there will be damage done to the hydraulic pump if nobody serviced this car before.
So, if you notice some metallic flakes on the power steering fluid, it could mean that you also have a bad power steering pump. Not only dirty power steering fluid.
This is why when you are dealing with these older systems, you should do your fluid changes regularly. The more regular the power steering fluid changes, the longer your power steering pump will last and the fewer power steering symptoms you will notice.
Another thing to add is that this fluid in some cars is the same as the transmission fluid also known as ATF which is red in color. But you should note that some cars demand another type of fluid which is clear in color.
So, when you are looking to replace it, you should see what type of fluid your power steering pump should run and then flush the fluid with the new one. This is why you will avoid experiencing power steering pump symptoms. Now let’s move on to the next symptom.
3. Squealing Noises On Engine Startup
The next in our list of power steering pump symptoms is the situation with the squealing noises that will be experienced. More precisely, they will be really felt on engine startup.
This might be the case of a bad power steering pump pulley or a bad power steering pump in general. Maybe the shaft that is inside is out of balance and is causing the serpentine belt to slip.
Whenever this is the case, you need to locate the cause of this sound and see where it comes from. This way you will be able to tell if this sound comes from the power steering pump pulley and not some other pulley on your vehicle. Now let’s move on to the next in our list of power steering pump symptoms.
4. Power Steering Pump Noise
Now let’s cover the next in our list of power steering pump symptoms which is the power steering pump noise. We covered the squealing noise but this was caused by a pulley. Now it is time to cover the real noises that could indicate a bad power steering pump.
And these noises are the groaning noises. These noises are really something that you don’t want your car to have because they are really annoying and will happen whenever you start using the steering wheel and try to turn it while the car is stationary.
The power steering pump has simply failed from the inside and will produce a ton of noises when you try to turn the steering on your vehicle.
And frankly, these noises are one of the tell-tell sounds that your car needs a new power steering pump. But still, this problem has to be diagnosed the right way and you shouldn’t worry because later on in the article we are going to explain how this task is done the right way. The first thing we need to finish is the power steering pump symptoms.
5. Steering Wheel Is Slow To Respond
The next in our list of power steering pump symptoms is the situation when the wheel is slow to respond. And this is one of the things that you can expect if the power steering pump has failed.
The power steering pump simply has to have the same input all of the time. If the pump is somewhat broken, you might face a lack of response from it.
Sometimes the power steering will work and sometimes it will not like to work well. This will be accompanied by groaning noises that will be really obnoxious and unbearable to tolerate.
When you are having an issue like this when the steering wheel is not that responsive when you turn it. Along with the power steering noises, you can presume that the pump is broken and needs replacement.
The sooner you replace it the better will be for you if you want to resume driving the car as it should. But more on the diagnostic process, we are going to cover later on after we finish all of the symptoms. Now let’s cover the last symptom in our list.
6. No Power Steering
The last in our list of power steering pump symptoms that we would like to cover is the situation when you lose the power steering completely on your vehicle.
This will be the case when the steering wheel will be extremely heavy and almost impossible to turn when the car is in a stationary position.
When this happens to your car, you basically do not have power steering anymore and your car needs a new power steering pump.
Also, not to rush replacing the pump. Sometimes the belt that is running this pump can get loose or fail. In this case, you will also lose the power steering ability along with the other accessories such as the alternator, air conditioning, water pump in some cases, etc.
All these accessories will stop working in such a case and you will have trouble running the engine as it should.
So, whenever you notice an instance like this, you need to jump into the diagnosing process. But how you can diagnose a bad power steering pump based on the bad power steering pump symptoms? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in the next chapter where we will learn how this procedure is done the right way.
How To Diagnose A Bad Power Steering Pump?
Now as we covered all of the power steering pump symptoms. We think that now it is time to learn how to diagnose a bad power steering pump. So, how this procedure is done the right way? Let’s elaborate more in detail.
Diagnosing a power steering pump is mainly done based on the symptoms. This is the case because you can never know what is going on inside of this pump and diagnose it with a scanner tool.
These power steering pumps are closed boxes, which means that they are not able to be opened unless you remove them and then rebuild them if you have the skills to do so. But for now, let’s learn how you can tell if your power steering pump is bad.
The first symptoms that you will notice are the sounds that the steering pump is making when you turn the steering wheel. If there are sounds when you turn the wheel, it could mean that the pump is broken and needs replacement. These are the groaning noises whenever you turn the steering wheel.
The next set of symptoms that we would like to cover is the situation with the leaks coming from the lines that go to the power steering pump and also around the power steering pump. Usually, bad power steering pumps leak a lot. Also, it is worth checking the condition of the power steering fluid and seeing if there are some metallic flakes inside this pump reservoir.
And the last situation is when the power steering pump has completely failed and the steering wheel is almost impossible to turn.
How To Replace Power Steering Pump
Now as we learned the power steering pump symptoms and how to diagnose this component. Now it is time to learn how to replace this component on your car. So, how this component is replaced the right way?
Well, for this job you will need to get the proper OEM part. This means that you will need to get a new pump and also in most cases, new power steering lines if you want to avoid leaks in the future happening again.
Removing the pump can be a pain sometimes. Mainly because these pumps are mounted at the bottom of the engine in some cases and reaching this component can be somewhat difficult.
The first thing you will need to do is to remove the serpentine belt and flush the old power steering fluid. Then remove the pump and replace it with the new unit, along with the power steering lines. After that, just top off the power steering fluid and you will be good to go. How you can perform this process, you can check the video above for a more detailed guide on how it’s done the right way.
Power Steering Pump Cost
What is good when it comes to diagnosing a bad power steering pump based on the power steering pump symptoms is that this component is really affordable.
In most cases, it will cost you between $200 and $350. But the labor is somewhat expensive and could range from $100 to $250 in some cases. This is the case because some cars are harder to work on than others and could be a challenge to replace this component.
Power Steering Pump Facts:
- A power steering pump is responsible for ensuring fluid reaches a car’s power steering system.
- The pump consists of a slotted rotor that rotates and moves fluid to discharge ports, which enters a reservoir in the power steering system.
- If a steering pump is not properly maintained and stops working correctly, it can hamper the driver’s ability to steer the car.
- Symptoms of a bad steering pump include a whining noise when turning the wheel, slow steering response, stiff steering wheel, squealing noises when starting the car, and groaning noises.
- A leak in the power steering pump or low power steering fluid level (it’s handy to learn how to check power steering fluid) can cause a whining noise when turning the wheel.
- If the steering wheel is slow to respond, the power steering pump may be faulty and require replacement.
- A difficult-to-turn steering wheel may indicate a failing power steering pump and should be inspected by a certified technician.
- Squealing noises when starting the car or making sharp turns can be a sign of a bad power steering pump and require a certified technician’s assessment.
- Groaning noises may occur due to a faulty power steering pump or other car issues and require immediate attention.
- Identifying these issues quickly can resolve them before they significantly hinder the driver’s ability to steer the car.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the power steering pump. First, we learned what is power steering and the different types. Then we focused on the hydraulic power steering and the power steering pump symptoms.
After, we learned all of the symptoms we learned how you can diagnose and replace this component on your car and at what cost.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is Power Steering
Power steering is a special system in our cars that make steering the car quite easier than without it. There are three types of power steering. The first is the hydraulic system which implements a power steering pump, then the electro-hydraulic, and the fully electric power steering system.
How To Tell If Power Steering Pump Is Bad
You can tell if a power steering pump is bad based on the power steering pump symptoms. A bad power steering pump will produce different symptoms. Namely groaning noises when turning the steering wheel and the inability to turn the steering wheel as you used to.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Power Steering Pump
The main symptoms include loss of power steering ability if this pump completely fails. There are also groaning noises, squealing noises, power steering fluid leaks, and metallic flakes in the power steering fluid.
Can You Drive Without Power Steering
Yes, you can drive without power steering. But driving like this can be a real pain especially when you have to rotate the steering wheel when the car is stationary. Such as in a situation when you want to park the car.
What Happens During A Power Steering Failure
In this situation, you lose the ability to use the power steering on your car. You will face a ton of difficulties when it comes to steering the vehicle and driving this car would be a real pain. Especially when trying to park in tight spots.
How Much Is A Power Steering Pump
On average, a power steering pump is about $200 to $350. It really depends on your make and model since some pumps tend to be more expensive than others. So, you can inform yourself at your local parts stores and get the best deal possible.