Let’s assume a situation: you enjoy music in the middle of a traffic jam. Suddenly, you realize the steering wheel is not turning smoothly and making a whining noise. You are keenly asking yourself: why my steering wheel is behaving this way? This problem mainly occurs when your power steering pump goes bad. So, you must know what happens when power steering pump goes out. More importantly, quickly addressing the issue is crucial to prevent further issues.
In this post, we will talk about what causes a power steering pump failure and the perfect way to solve this problem. Let’s dive in!
What To Do When Power Steering Goes Out
If your power steering pump goes out, you need to slow down its speed immediately and carefully park the vehicle to the shoulder of the road while signaling other drivers. Inspect the damage condition by rotating it left & right, and call for a tow truck if necessary.
Importance of Power Steering Pumps
Most modern vehicles feature a power steering pump. With the help of hydraulics, a power steering pump supplies fluid inside the steering gearbox to smoothly turn the gearbox.
Instead of typical fluid, a special power steering fluid (engine transmission fluid) is used for the power steering pump.
Periodically changing this fluid is necessary to ensure smooth functionality. Generally, you need to change it after every 40,000 miles.
Not changing the power steering fluid for a long time may make the fluid dirty. This may lead to contamination issues and may cause permanent damage to the power steering pump. You will also see leakage or failure problems initially.
In addition, keeping the right fluid level is also important. Otherwise, you may face difficulty in turning the steering. Since the pump plays a key role in the power steering system, you want to make sure it works properly.
Symptoms of The Bad Power Steering Pump
It is crucial to have a well-functional power steering pump to implement an ideal pressure level on your car tires.
This will ensure a smooth left or right turn. You can check some common symptoms to learn about faulty power steering pumps.
Whining Sounds While Turning
Have you noticed any whining sounds while turning the wheel of the car? If yes, the power steering system may have some issues.
Generally, this noise comes out when there are any Power steering fluid leaks or a critical fluid level.
You will experience a compromise on the entire power steering system if the power steering pump has a lower level of fluid for an extended period.
Slow or Hard Responding Steering Wheel
How quickly does the steering wheel respond when you turn the vehicle in a corner? If it responds slowly, there might be a power steering pump failure. Or, you may have a hard feeling while turning on the steering wheel.
Squealing Sounds While Starting Car
A Bad Power Steering Pump is more likely to make Squealing sounds while starting a car. It may continue for 1-2 minutes while turning on the vehicle.
Puddle Below the Vehicle
If the pump house zone has any cracking issues, it may lead to leakage in the power steering pump. You will notice a red-brown puddle under the vehicle. This problem can also occur if the fluid reservoir has any cracks.
What Causes A Power Steering Pump To Fail?
A Power Steering Pump may show failure issues for several reasons. Check out the most common ones among them.
Lower Level Of Fluid
A sufficient amount of fluid is necessary to ensure proper lubrication for all the power steering pump components and keep the ideal level of hydraulic pressure.
Too low fluid will increase the temperature power steering pump system. This may lead to leakage issues.
Dirty fluids or too long unchanged fluid may cause contamination. Also, impurities or a higher level of moisture may contaminate the formula. This will prevent the power steering pump from working properly.
Your power steering pump may have fluid leaks due to an inadequate amount of fluid. Check out below the car after parking the vehicle. It may have pink or red patches fluids.
Power Steering Belt Issues
A power steering belt plays the primary role of supplying power from the vehicle’s crankshaft. If the belt has broken suddenly, it will compromise a smooth Hydraulic power steering system and cause failure in the power steering pump. After all, it is not receiving enough power to function correctly.
Too Old Power Steering Pump
When is the last time you have changed your power steering pump? Too old Power steering pumps may have ample wear and tear that needs replacement after a particular period.
What To Do When Power Steering Goes Out
Failing to turn on the power steering smoothly? It may show failure issues suddenly. You may have a hard time turning the power steering while driving. Here are steps you should follow if your power steering goes out.
Step: 1 — Signaling Other Car Owners via the Light
At first, press the hazard lights to let other drivers of your nearby know you have faced some problems with your car. Hence, other car owners will be more cautious and make a way to help you.
Step: 2 — Finding a Perfect Parking Spot
Check out the road condition and figure out an outer lane to park the car. Turning the vehicle on one side will require additional force as per the power steering system’s damage.
Step: 3 — Parking the Car Safely
Don’t rush while parking the car. Be gentle to place your feet on the brake pedals and carefully move to one side of the road.
Double-check if any quick-speed cars are coming towards your lane. After landing on your desired parking spot, gradually press the brakes and stop the car fully.
Step: 4 — Testing the Power Steering Pump Condition
After parking the car safely, inspect the steering pump conditions. Turn it on the left and right side several times, whether it is still okay to drive the car or you need to take it to a mechanic.
Step: 5 — Taking To the Nearest Mechanical Shop
If you struggle to turn the steering properly, it is better to take it to auto repair and maintenance shops.
Call for a tow truck if the car is not manageable to take independently. Don’t forget to lock the car and position it properly for easy transportation.
Why Steering Wheel Is Stiff And Slow To Respond
Does your steering wheel give you a hard feeling and respond too slowly? Here are the top-leading causes you should consider.
- Malfunctioning Power Steering Pump
If your power steering pump fails to function normally, it may put you in danger while taking a sharp turn. Lack of pressure requires you to exert extra force, which may sometimes be overdoing.
- Defective Steering Rack
When you initially struggle to turn the driving wheel, but the problem goes off after a few minutes of driving, the problem is likely to with a steering rack.
Since a steering rack will degrade its quality over time, replacing it is necessary when it is not enough to use.
- Defective Serpentine Belt
A defective or broken Serpentine Belt can make the turning of wheel steering harder. Since it works continuously while driving the car, it is normal to see wear and tear issues after a particular period.
Make sure to replace the belt when it becomes cracked or loose. Or, it may cause additional costs.
- Tire Pressure
Though it is uncommon, unbalanced tire pressure may make the task of turning a steering wheel harder. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended PSI while inflating all tires of the car.
How Long Can You Drive With A Bad Power Steering Pump?
The problem with a bad power steering pump becomes intense gradually, not immediately. So, you can drive with a defective power steering pump as long as it is extremely hard to turn the steering wheel.
With small leaks or minor failure issues, a bad power steering pump may still be manageable. But it will slowly become dry of oil and show failure issues in the seals.
Generally, it is better to fix a faulty power steering pump to prevent further problems with other components of the vehicles.
How Does Power Steering Affect A Car?
Most modern cars include power steering that helps you control the car smoothly while driving and parking at a reduced speed. It is a great addition if you are not good at maintaining a steady speed at the wheel.
A power steering system features a sensor that helps create a hydraulic pressure to turn the wheeling steering smoothly.
This component prevents the car steering system from being extremely sensitive. So, you can go ease to turn the car in different directions without overdoing it.
However, bad roads may restrict flexibility since managing vehicles on rough roads is more tricky.
How To Fix A Bad Steering Pump?
In many cases, you may need to take your vehicle to an automobile shop to repair a bad steering pump. But sometimes, you can fix a bad steering pump with some easy solution if the issue is minor. Here are the steps to follow.
Step: 1 — Inspecting the Steering Fluid
At first, inspect the steering fluid condition, and refill it if the fluid level is low. Or change it if the fluid is odd. Make sure to flush the old fluid before adding new fluid.
Step: 2 — Removing the Fan Belt
To remove the fan belt, you need to create some spaces to work on the spot easily. That’s why take out some parts that are restricting access to the power steering pump.
Removing the drive-belt is necessary to get off the faulty steering pump. Use a wrench to pull it on.
Step: 3 — Detaching the Fluid Lines
Now, take off the fluid lines using a pair of pliers. Make sure to work on the feeder area first and then move to the high-pressure line from the lower part.
Step: 4 — Removing the Screws of Steering Pump
Remove all the screws of the steering pump that supports the unit to hold. Then, detach the old steering pump.
Step: 5 — Installing an Intact Pump
Now, install the new pump by following the manufacturer’s directions. Tighten all screws properly.
Step: 6 — Adding Fluid to the Reservoir
After installing the new pump successfully, add fluid to the reservoir. Now, put all the parts in their original place that you have removed. Test your car. Check if it is working properly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q1. Can I Operate My Vehicle with a Failing Power Steering Pump?
A) You can drive your car with a failing power steering pump for a few hours if it has enough power and a manageable steering pump.
Q2. Can You Drive Your Car if the Power Steering Pump Goes Out?
A) If the power steering pump goes out fully, you want to avoid driving your vehicle. At least a small portion of power is needed to operate it.
Q3. How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bad Steering Pump?
A) Replacing a new power steering pump can be anywhere from $400 and $800. It depends on your vehicle model and the shop you choose.
Q4. Can the Power Steering Pump Be Repaired?
A) If you have already made a habit of servicing your car regularly, you may repair the power steering pump instead of replacing it.
Q5. Can a Bad Power Steering Pump Cause a Car to Stall?
A) Yes, a bad power steering pump may cause a car to stall since the car engine struggles to supply the ideal fuel level.
Q6. What Happens if You Don't Bleed Power Steering?
A) It may make the pump noisy, too stiff steering, or early pump failure. It is always best not to drive your car unless you fix it.
Q7. Can a Dead Battery Cause Power Steering to Go Out?
A) A power steering may go out of power fully if the battery has any failure issues or the alternator is not working properly. This can happen while driving the vehicle.
Q8. How to Handle Power Steering Failure?
A) If the power steering doesn't work at all, it is better to take it to a mechanical shop as early as possible.
When facing any power steering pump failure, knowing what happens when power steering pump goes out is crucial. Knowing the consequences can help you make a better decision and prevent further damage to the car.
If you have not changed the old power steering pump for a long time, it is better to replace it make the entire car functional again. Don’t forget to choose the compatible model based on your car.
Ensure to check other parts of your vehicle from the mechanic to avoid further problems. Hopefully, this article gives a good idea of handling the situation when your power steering pump goes bad and what needs to be done.