Power steering is an underappreciated feature in modern cars and automobiles. It's not until your power steering goes out when you realize just how important it really is. Using a hydraulic system, it's designed to help drivers steer their vehicle by augmenting the steering effort. Technical jargon aside, it allows you to turn the steering wheel more easily and with less effort.
Like all components on cars, however, there's a chance that your power steering may fail. See below for a list of common reasons why power steering goes out and how to fix it.
There's a Leak
Power steering requires fluid to function as intended. If there's a leak -- either in the line or reservoir -- the fluid may leak out; thus, causing your power steering to fail. The power steering system is closed, meaning the fluid should never leak out. However, normal wear and degradation of the line and associated components can cause the fluid to leak, which is why it's a good idea to have your system inspected on a regular basis.
The Pump is Bad
Perhaps a bad pump is causing your power steering to fail. In order for the fluid to reach the steering system, a pump is needed to extract and transfer the fluid. The pump works by using a pulley to pressurize the system, forcing it through the steering rack or gear. If the pump's bearing goes bad, however, it may fail to perform this task, in which case your vehicle may lose power steering.
If you still have power steering fluid -- and the pump is still good -- perhaps the fluid is contaminated. If your car's power steering fluid is contaminated with particles and impurities, it may "slow" it down, preventing it from flowing through the system as intended. This is particularly true if your car is old. As car's age, the metal within the hydraulic system may rust and corrode. And when this happens, the corrosion particles are released into the power steering system, which can cause blockages and obstruction.
How to Keep Your Power Steering Working
There are several steps that drivers such as yourself can take to keep the power steering function working, one of which is changing the fluid on a regular basis.
Additionally, if you've experienced any trouble with your car's power steering, have a professional mechanic inspect it. They'll be able to tell if there's a leak, or if the pump is going bad. By taking a proactive approach towards your car's maintenance, you can prevent problems such as a power steering failure from occurring.
These are just a few common reasons why power steering systems fail.