Power Steering Pumps
Since the release of the Chrysler Imperial in the early 1950s, power steering has become a common feature of most modern-day vehicles. It allows you to easily turn the steering wheel with minimal force. Power steering systems use a hydraulic cylinder to push the rack and pinion to the side when you turn the steering wheel. As fluid presses against the cylinder, pressure builds up within it, thus moving the rack and pinion.
For fluid to reach your vehicle's hydraulic cylinder, however, the power steering pump needs to work. Power steering systems contain a pump for the fluid. Like other fluid pumps, the power steering pump circulates the fluid to the places where it's needed. If your vehicle's power steering pump is on its last leg, it may cause some serious problems.
Problems Caused By a Bad Power Steering Pump
What's wrong with driving with a bad power steering pump exactly? For starters, it may cause additional damage to the pump itself. Power steering pumps are designed to operate in a fluid-filled environment. If your vehicle's power steering pump is bad, it may leak fluid, resulting in a dry environment. When you drive your vehicle, the power steering pump will try to suction up fluid from a dry reservoir. This will lead to additional wear and tear on the power steering pump.
In addition to further damaging the pump itself, driving with a bad steering pump may damage the rack and pinion. You can move the rack and pinion by turning the steering wheel, regardless of whether your vehicle has power steering fluid. If there's little or no fluid present, though, the rack and pinion won't be properly lubricated, which can wear it down more quickly.
Signs of a Bad Power Steering Pump
You may notice a whining sound when starting up your vehicle or turning your vehicle if the power steering pump is bad. This sound usually comes from the pump. It occurs when the power steering pump struggles to suction up fluid.
Of course, a bad steering power pump can make it difficult to the steering wheel. As the pump goes bad, it will struggle to circulate fluid to the rack and pinion. A dry power steering pump will then make a whining sound that originates from the engine bay. Alternatively, a leak in the pump or its hose can cause a whining sound. A leak can cause fluid to expel or air to enter the power steering system.