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Common Signs Of Power Steering Failure & What To Do About It

car steering

Power steering is a critical system; you’ll know something is wrong when it fails. For example, the steering wheel may groan or vibrate, there could be fluid under your car, or worse, it could give out completely while you’re trying to turn your vehicle through an intersection.

If you suspect there is an issue with your power steering, it’s time to schedule a visit to your local auto repair shop in Edmonton. But do you know the signs?

Here is a quick overview of the most common indicators of a power steering issue — and when it’s time to call in the professionals.

What Is Power Steering?

Every car comes equipped with a power steering system. Until the early 2000s, most cars had a hydraulic steering system, which consists of a pump and a rack that rely on lubrication from power steering fluid. These days, most new vehicles rely on an electric system, which pulls energy from the car’s battery.

Imagine the force it would take for you to manually turn the wheels while operating your car or truck. Impossible right? Whatever the mechanism, power steering makes it feasible for you to physically turn the steering wheel (and, therefore, the car) with minimal effort.

In short, without power steering, it would be exceedingly difficult to drive your car or truck anywhere without superhuman strength.

Common Signs Of Power Steering Failure

Like other systems in your car, the power steering system is prone to wear and tear. You’ll also need to occasionally top up the fluid if you have a hydraulic system.

So how do you know the sound you hear or symptom you experience is related to power steering? Here are five of the most common signs:

Whining or Squealing As You Turn the Wheel

Next time you are driving around Edmonton, pay close attention to the noises coming from your vehicle. For example, if you notice a whining or squealing noise as you turn the wheel, this may indicate a power steering fluid issue.

Check fluid levels to see if they are low and top up as needed. If you notice squealing, you should also look for bubbles in the fluid, puddles, or a red stain underneath your car the next time it’s parked. This could indicate a power steering fluid leak.

Difficulty Turning the Wheel

Are you having increasing issues physically turning the wheel as you operate your vehicle? This is another telltale sign of a power steering failure.

But if the steering assist fails, you’ll need some serious muscle power to get the car to go where you want. So, double-check your power steering fluid levels, if they look fine and the issue persists, it’s time for a mechanic.

Steering Wheel Vibration

steering wheele

Although a vibrating steering column can indicate many issues, one is a failing power steering system. The vibrations will be especially apparent while turning the wheel. It can feel like it’s vibrating, shaking, groaning, scraping, or pulsing.

In this case, you’ll need to bring it in for inspection from a mechanic; these vibrations could also suggest other issues, including unbalanced wheels, worn-out brake pads, or faulty brake callipers.

Power Steering Fluid Leaks Underneath Your Car

This is an easy visual sign but a bad one: red or dark brown fluid underneath your car. If you notice pools or dark stains as you pull out of your parking space, you likely have a power steering leak.

Power steering fluid, when new, is red. However, if you see a puddle or spot under your car, it’ll likely be reddish-brown to dark brown, depending on how old it is.

No matter what the colour, if you notice any leaks, bring your car into a local Edmonton mechanic to check it out.

How Bruce Stewart Can Help

Bruce Auto Repair

Bruce Stewart Automotive is a CAA-approved auto repair shop in Edmonton, Alberta. We’ve been serving our community since 1990. We pride ourselves in affordable, transparent service — whether it’s for power steering, brakes, transmission, or any other number of issues.

If you have a question about power steering and the signs of failure, why not connect with one of our technicians? We can help diagnose many common mechanical issues with just a few simple questions.

Get in touch with a tech today!

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7220 - 76 Ave Edmonton,
Alberta T6B 0B2