The power steering system is clearly one of the most important parts of your car — without it, the vehicle isn't going to respond to your commands. Unfortunately, few people are aware of the signs that their power steering is a trouble. If anything is noticed, it's common for people to ignore the problem, which is a huge issue with power steering, since a worn or malfunctioning system can cause you to lose control.
You don't want that to happen, so make sure you learn the following four signs of power steering problems.
1. Difficulty Turning the Wheel
Anyone who has ever driven a vehicle without power steering will understand just how much harder it used to be to turn the steering wheel. When your power steering starts to fail, the force required to make any turn will rise astonishingly. The wheels will still turn, but you'll feel like you're really having to put some elbow grease into moving them. This could be because the power steering fluid is low or leaking or because one of the belts has broken — in either case, it's an issue that demands attention.
2. Lack of Responsiveness
As well as getting physically tougher to steer, your vehicle may become less responsive. If you make a turn, the movement of your steering wheel may not result in the vehicle responding as quickly as you're used to. This can be caused by several types of power steering failure, though the most likely problem is a failing power steering pump.
3. Slips or Looseness
Unresponsiveness is one thing, but you may also find that your steering wheel seems to slip when you hold it in a set position. Alternatively, you may find that the steering wheel feels slightly loose — there will be a lot of give when you turn it to either side before the steering starts to respond.
4. Odd Noises
Finally, one sign of failing power steering that is quite hard to ignore is a harsh squealing noise when you try turning the wheels. The sound may start off quiet and become increasingly louder, an indication that power steering fluid is leaking. If you refill the fluid and then find noises starting up quickly afterwards, there's probably a leak somewhere in the system. You may also find that your vehicle exhibits a more guttural coughing sound when the wheels are turned — if so, your power steering is probably already in very bad shape.
Contact a local car service centre in your area for additional information.