Power steering is necessary for drivers looking to take their car driving experience to the next level. However, while the ease and convenience of power steering can significantly enhance your driving experience, anything wrong with it can endanger you.
A typical power steering system uses intermediate hydraulic or electric components to reduce the pressure exerted on the front wheels of your vehicle. It can multiply the force that the driver puts through their steering wheel to result in a simple change in direction.
However, your power steering system isn’t fool-proof. If you’re not careful, it is prone to wear-and-tear, damage, and even a power steering leak. You might already have a power steering leak and have no clue until it’s too late. Find out more about power steering leaks and their symptoms.
What is a Power Steering Leak?
Your vehicle’s braking system utilizes a hydraulic system that needs braking fluid. Similarly, your vehicle also requires power steering fluid for a power steering wheel. The harder you turn your car, the more fluid will flow into the hydraulic cylinder, leading to more force applied to your wheels.
However, when a leak occurs, it will happen in the control component between your steering wheel and the front tires. The fluid that pumps into the hydraulic cylinder will start to leak, which will make it harder for the power steering function to work optimally.
How Is It Caused?
The most common reasons for your power steering component to start leaking are time and use. The more you use your power steering over time, the more likely you will face this issue at some point or another. The O-rings and seals present for the power steering component tend to lose their mass and form with continual use. The seals can even break up into little chunks that can end up circulating in the fluid.
If you’ve bought a car with a power steering component, it’s crucial to look at the mileage to determine how well the power steering will function. However, if you continually maintain and perform upkeep for your car, your car may never have to face any issues with a power steering leak.
Another critical factor determining how quickly your power steering starts leaking is how you use it. If you’re habitual to driving at high speeds and braking suddenly, you might start having problems with your power steering in no time.
How To Identify A Power Steering Leak
For many people, even seasoned drivers, a power steering leak can be hard to detect. You can simply check whether you see any fluid underneath your car every time you stop using it. If you have a clue that your power steering might be leaking or performing inadequately, there are some steps you can take to determine the cause.
The first thing you should do is take your vehicle out for a drive. Take turns at slow speeds, as you will notice problems with power steering more when you’re driving slowly. Listen for any whining noises to help you determine whether the fluid is leaking.
You might notice that you’re having difficulty turning the wheel at slow speeds or feel abnormal forces of resistance. It can also signify that your power steering is leaking. If you want to check more thoroughly, you could also physically check the hydraulic cylinder and surrounding components.
First, clean the power steering fluid reservoir and the steering rack and lines. Wipe it down with a cloth if you can’t fully see every component, even after draining the liquid. If you haven’t found any leaks, go ahead and refill the fluid. You can take it out again for a drive and check to see if any area is leaking.
Since many power steering systems don’t require comprehensive maintenance or service, you can keep using them for a long time without any problems. However, you need to ensure that you’re only filling the fluid level as advised by the manufacturer.
Guide to Fixing It
When you have a power steering leak, there are several ways to fix it. Overfilling your fluid reservoir is a common reason behind why your power steering fluid could be leaking. Open the reservoir and check to ensure that you’ve filled just the right amount of liquid.
Your car will need to go through a power steering flush in other cases. A complete flush of the fluid reservoir will ensure that the fluid that re-enters the reservoir is clean of debris. When you’re getting it done by an expert, the technician will also tighten several parts to ensure the problem doesn’t reoccur.
When you consult a car mechanic to fix your power steering leak, they will comprehensively check the inner and outer components. They will bleed the braking lines to ensure that no leaks are happening and tighten all the seals.
Depending on how much use your power steering system has received, they might need to replace the seals and hoses. When the seals are being replaced, it can also imply that everything else needs to be changed. Pressure valves are another component that might need to be replaced by a technician before your car is fit to drive.
Is It Safe To Be Driving With A Power Steering Leak?
While many people might think that it’s okay to be driving your car with a power steering leak, it’s completely untrue. A power steering leak can be hazardous, making your vehicle uncontrollable in the wrong situation. It would be best if you weren’t waiting until the last possible point to get the issue resolved.
So when you detect a power steering leak in your car, do not continue driving it as you would normally. While it can be driven around for a little while, it’s not advisable to continue for weeks without getting it inspected. Leaving it for too long can also cause other components in your car, like your power steering rack, to get damaged. When this happens, repairs and replacements only get more costly for you.
Take your car to a mechanic so it can be comprehensively inspected, or if you have a subscription service that takes care of your car maintenance, give them a call. Don’t let your power steering fluid leak damage any more of your car than it already has.