Power steering is the feature in modern cars that allows the driver of a car to direct the vehicle without exerting the effort it would require to physically turn the wheel.
In a power steering system, movements made on the steering wheel cause fluid pressure inside the hydraulic pump to move to one side or the other of the pump. This pressure causes a piston to move, and that piston directs the gears to steer the car.
When the power steering fails, the wheels of the car become exponentially more difficult to turn.
The wheels will turn, but the force required to make this happen can be unexpected and problematic.
If power steering failure occurs while a car is in motion, an accident can result.
Knowing the signs of power steering failure can help drivers fix problems preemptively, thereby preventing accidents and potential problems on the road.
Whining or Squealing Noise
A whining or squealing noise when the wheels turn can be an indication that the power steering fluid is low.
Power steering fluid is available for sale at automotive supply stores and can easily be replaced, however, a drop in the amount of fluid may be indicative of a leak in the power steering rack. Replacing the power steering fluid will only solve the problem temporarily unless the leak itself is repaired.
Wheels are Difficult to Turn
If the wheels of your car are difficult to turn, this is another indication that your power steering is failing.
Potential causes include low levels of power steering fluid and a leak in the power steering rack (as described above), or damage to the power steering belt. Replacement of power steering belts may vary from one type of car to another.