5 Symptoms of Power Steering Failure

Each innovation in automotive science makes driving safe and easy for us. Power steering is one such innovation that has revolutionized driving. It is a feature in all modern cars that allows us to direct the vehicle without applying a lot of force. Without it, one would need herculean force to turn the wheel from one direction to another, like in the old cars. In case of power steering failure, driving can become a very difficult task. You will nevertheless be able to turn the wheels but with immense force. And, if the power steering gives up all of a sudden while the car is in motion, the result can be a serious accident since you will fail to direct the wheels as they should be.

When we buy a new car, we (humanly) fail to see through how prepared we should be in case any component of the car gives up. With this blog post here, we prepare you to deal in the event of an impending power steering failure by telling you the symptoms.

5 Conspicuous Symptoms of Power Steering Failure

Here are 5 of the most conspicuous symptoms which tell you that your car’s power steering is about to give up. Recognizing them in time can help you drive safe and avoid accidents.


1. Squealing and Whining Noises

Any kind of squealing in any part of the car is never a good sign. When you hear a whining or squealing noise as you turn the steering wheel, or when you are moving the car at a slow pace, it means impending power steering failure. This is probably because the steering pump is about to fail.

Also, if you hear clucking noises under the hood when you start the ignition, your steering pump is in a bad shape. If there is a grinding noise while braking, it’s something else. In any case, get it checked immediately.

2. Vibration in Steering Wheel

Power Steering Failure symptoms
Some of the Power Steering Failure (photo source: Shutterstock)

This symptom is likely to manifest itself when the car is idling. And, it may often come as surprise, like a bolt out of the blue. This vibration can often be turbulent and indicate that the drive belt is either loose or damaged. In either case, replacement becomes necessary. The drive belt needs the right tension to keep the steering pump functioning properly. If it doesn’t, it can cause the pump to fail.

You must, as a habit, check the belt for tension and cracks once every month.

3. Difficulty in Turning Wheels

This is one of the most evidently felt symptoms of power steering failure, but you must keep something in mind here. It can be due to inadequate level of power steering fluid, which is most likely the case. It could also be due to inadequate tire pressure or an issue in alignment. So, before you jump to a conclusion, have a qualified mechanic check it.

4. Inadequate Steering Fluid Level

It’s a great thing of you follow the best maintenance advice and check all the auto fluids regularly. In case the power steering fluid level is lower than required, it can mean a leak in the power steering system. A low level can cause the steering pump to make noise and malfunction over the time.

Check if there are any leaks on the floor where your car is parked. Red puddles or a peculiar smell can indicate that there has been an oil leak, and so the pump needs repair.

5. Appearance of Steering Fluid

New power steering fluid is red in color and has a peculiar smell. Old, oxidized fluid will appear dark gray. If air or water has leaked into the fluid, it will appear foamy or bubbly. There may also be a case when you find chrome particles in the fluid. When you see that, it’s probably the fuel pump that is degenerating.

So, make sure that the fluid is red and has a distinctive smell.

What to Do in Case of Power Steering Failure while Driving

The first thing that must strike your mind when the power steering fails, should be to safely get to the side of the road. Remember that you will need to make a lot of effort to turn the wheels. Make that effort and don’t push too hard on the brake. Braking hard can make you lose the control over your vehicle and cause an accident. While you try to pull your car aside, turn on your car’s hazard lights to alert the other nearby drivers on the road.

It is important that you recognize the symptoms of power steering failure before it’s too late. Remember; a stitch in time saves nine. So, keep a guard for against these 5 symptoms.