Steering And Suspension Diagnosis. Get an inspection at your home

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What is the power steering pump and how does it work?

The power steering pump is an electric-driven or belt-driven hydraulic pump that produces the hydraulic pressure required to provide power steering assist. It develops output pressures of 1,000 PSI or more. The pump output, often a rack and pinion type unit, is directed to the steering gear where the hydraulic pressure pushes on the steering rack, greatly decreasing the effort it would otherwise take to turn the steering wheel.

Know when to replace your car’s power steering pump

  • Whining or groaning noise when turning. A low fluid level or trapped air can also cause noises. Noise can occur if there is problem on the pump bearings or impeller vanes. Adding fluid may not get rid of the noise and replacement of the pump might be necessary if the pump has already been operating while dry.
  • Power steering fluid leaks. Leaks can develop at threaded connections, hoses, pump seals, or on the steering rack and pinion unit. Pump seal leaks will generally need a replacement.
  • Tough steering. If you notice it is harder to turn the steering wheel, it might indicate that the power steering pump output pressure is too low, or there could be blockages in the pump or lines.
  • Damage to the pump pulley. Should the pump pulley become broken or is loose on the pump shaft, you might detect vibration, drive belt damage, or hard steering. Either the pump assembly be replaced or the pulley will have to be serviced.

What is Power Steering Fluid?

Power steering fluid goes through the power steering hydraulic system. The system is pressurized by the power steering pump and by way of pistons, valves, or plungers decreases the effort needed by the driver in controlling the steering wheel. The pressure drops and the power steering system loses its hydraulic pressure when the pump stops pumping.

Metal particles will contaminate the fluid as components in the steering system erode. This will cause seals in the system to leak and components to eventually fail. Checking the fluid level and changing the fluid at regular intervals recommended by the manufacturer is important for the life of the hoses, pistons, valves, seals, and the power steering pump itself.

Signs of a Power Steering Fluid Leak

  • Hearing a siren-like or whirring sound from the steering pump
  • Topping up the fluid tank as its level drops.
  • Determining that spots on the garage floor or parking spot are not simply oil leaks from the engine

How much does a Steering and Suspension Diagnosis cost?

It depends on the type of car you drive and the auto repair shop you go to. Our mechanics are mobile, which means they don’t have the overhead that repair shops have. They provide you convenience by coming to your home or office.

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What are some common causes for Power Steering Fluid Leaks?

Fluid can leak from numerous places in the steering system. The most common sources of leaks are the following 4 areas:

  • Power steering pump: The power steering pump is driven off the car’s engine. Pump seals can become damaged because of the contact with dirty fluid or they can become worn-out from thousands of miles of use. 

  • Power steering hoses: Another possible problem area are the lines that run from the pump to the steering rack, or gear, particularly where the high-pressure hose are connected with the metal fittings. 

  • Power steering rack or gear: The steering rack itself can lose fluid from its own seals. 

  • Power steering cooler: Some assisted steering mechanisms have coolers, which complicate the matter and bring additional plumbing and potential for leaks. These coolers are often attached in the front of the car, where damage can occur.

How do mechanics replace the power steering pump?

  • The power steering pump is bolted to the engine through a bracket that allows for adjustment of the pump drive belt if driven by a drive belt. The drive belt is removed once the engine is cold and safe to work on.
  • If driven by an electric pump, the pump may be mounted in conjunction with the steering shaft or in conjunction with the steering rack. Removal of any dash, panel, or steering components is performed to access the pump with either a drive belt or electric pump.
  • The threaded connectors to the pump inlet and outlet are loosened and detached.
  • Any mounting brackets and bolts are removed so the pump can be removed.
  • The system is flushed if the old pump has failed terribly, or there is reason to suspect contaminants in the power steering hoses.
  • The new pump is fastened on, the pressure and return hoses attached and the system is depleted of all air. Pump is tightened to the manufacturer’s specification if it is belt-driven.
  • Lastly, the engine is run and the car is road tested to ensure normal steering effort. If a new drive belt was installed, belt tension is measured again, and adjusted as necessary, after the belt has run for a few minutes.

Is it safe to drive with a power steering pump problem?

No. The pump reservoir will not hold fluid due to a large leak if the power steering pump is operated without an adequate amount of fluid. The pump could seize, which would snap the serpentine belt and likely leave you stranded. If the pump turns and there is enough fluid, but there is no power assist, it will need much greater effort to turn the steering wheel, and that presents inherent safety risks. Generally, the wisest course is to seek immediate repairs if you suspect a problem with any component in your car’s power steering system.

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