arts & sciences

Power steering malfunctions and its causes

Power steering malfunctions not only lead to a deterioration in driving comfort but also directly affect the safety of driving a car on the road. In many cases, the power steering is completely repairable.

If you are in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States, it is not hard to find a good power steering service center. If you decide to send your car to a junkyard in Brooklyn and buy a new one, look for a company that buys non-running, damaged and totaled cars throughout the U.S.

Make sure the solutions you find will not require you spend too much money and time. In this article, we will look at typical power steering problems.

steering wheel (©Edvin Johansson)
steering wheel (©Edvin Johansson)

What you need to know about the power steering device

Power steering is a hydraulic closed system, which was previously installed exclusively on trucks and special equipment. Now, power steering is installed on modern cars to simplify the process of driving a vehicle. It makes it easier to turn the steering wheel of the car when making maneuvers at low speed and provides shock mitigation when hitting obstacles and uneven road surfaces. Because of this, the driver is much less tired when driving in the city and when making long trips. Power steering problems should be repaired as soon as they are discovered, as they can cause serious traffic accidents.

The power steering includes pump, pressure distributor, gold manager, pilot spool, tank and pipelines.The pump creates a certain pressure and circulates the working fluid (oil) in the hydraulic booster. It can be bladed (rotary) and geared. On modern passenger cars, mechanisms of the first type are used.

Moreover, the pump sets the working oil pressure and directs it to the rotary spool valve. The latter is an intermediate element between the gear and the column shaft. It analyzes the position of the steering wheel and distributes the fluid flow in the right direction. The control spool is responsible for this operation, which closes and opens the required channels of the system.

Connecting pipelines are necessary for the normal movement of the working composition through the mechanism. Low-pressure hoses are used to supply fluid from the tank to the pump. The high-pressure pipeline is connected to one system by a hydraulic cylinder and switchgear.

The tank is an ordinary reservoir. It has a plug with a probe and a filter. The reservoir stores a supply of oil necessary for the operation of the power steering.


Symptoms of a power steering problem

There are several typical symptoms that indicate that the power steering in the car needs to be repaired or at least the oil should be changed in it. Power steering diagnostics must be performed in the event of the occurrence of at least one of the following situations:

  1. The power steering pump makes a loud noise during the operation.
  2. Increasing steering effort.
  3. Increased play of the steering shaft.
  4. When driving, and especially when cornering, jolts of the steering wheel are felt.
  5. Noise in the steering wheel.
  6. Different effort when turning right and left.
  7. The steering wheel turns very easily.
  8. Vibration in the steering wheel.
  9. Returning the steering wheel to the neutral position after cornering.

Often, the signs of a malfunction of the power steering in a car are very similar to the breakdown of other elements of the steering system, such as the rack, tie rods, tips and others. Therefore, performing a comprehensive diagnosis is recommended.


Causes of a malfunction of the power steering

Depending on which part of the power steering is out of order, this may have its own reason. However, when the power steering does not work, the reasons are as follows:

  1. Insufficient fluid level: Like any automotive fluid, the hydraulic oil in the steering system wears out over time, causing its level to drop. Accordingly, under such conditions, it is impossible to create sufficient force in the system, and the pump suffers from this in the first place.
  2. The wrong type of fluid: Each car manufacturer prescribes its own type of hydraulic fluid for power steering. They are mineral and synthetic, differ in composition, the presence of additives, service life, and so on. Accordingly, an unsuitable liquid can cause significant damage to various elements of the system, in particular, gaskets, pipes, and the surface of pump parts.
  3. Contaminated liquid: Over time, particles of dirt get into the power steering fluid, and spent additives form a precipitate that can scratch the pump blades, and have a negative effect on gaskets, the inner surface of pipes, and other elements of the system.
  4. Power steering pump failure: This is a rather costly breakdown, it is often easier to buy and install a new pump.
  5. Worn pump rotor blades. This is the main reason for the failure of the power steering pump. The problem comes from both the age of the mechanism and the use of dirty hydraulic fluid.
  6. Drive belt tension: An overtightened booster drive belt has a significant physical impact on the pump shaft bearings, thereby reducing their life. A similar situation with the bushing. However, if the belt is not tight enough, then there is a risk of slipping, which will cause the pump to run idle, which is also harmful to it.
  7. Pump bearing wear: In this case, the hum and howl in the area of the power steering pump appears on an ongoing basis.
  8. Dirty pump valves: In this case, the hydraulic booster works with little effort. The driver is forced to apply additional forces to turn the steering wheel.

How to use power steering correctly

Prevention and proper operation of the power steering can often significantly extend the life of the mechanism. However, to extend the life of the hydraulic booster, you must follow simple rules, including the following:

  1. Check the power steering fluid level.
  2. Change the power steering fluid according to the regulations.
  3. Use recommended fluid.
  4. Properly operate the power steering.
  5. Check the condition of the steering rack boots.
  6. Do not drive with a non-working power steering.
  7. Make sure diagnosis is timely.

Typical breakdowns of the power steering are leakage of the oil seals of its hydraulic system, insufficient fluid level or its untimely replacement, insufficient drive belt tension, partial failure of the drive pump and some others. If the volume of faults in your car makes you think about selling the car and buying a new one, a junkyard will help you with this task.

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