How To Easily Fix Power Steering Assist Faults In Your Vehicle?

How To Easily Fix Power Steering Assist Faults In Your Vehicle

Having problems turning your steering wheel? Notice any strange noises coming from your wheel well when trying to park or steer your vehicle? You may have a fault in your car’s [[power steering system]]. Don’t worry – in most cases, power steering faults can be resolved quickly and easily if diagnosed properly.

This comprehensive guide will outline the common causes of power steering assist faults, provide troubleshooting tips to determine the exact problem, and detail multiple solutions to get your steering wheel turning smoothly again. We’ll cover everything from simply refilling low power steering fluid levels to replacing damaged steering components so you can confidently get your steering assist back to full strength.

Power steering makes turning your vehicle’s tires much easier by using pressurized fluid or electric assist motors to reduce the physical force needed to rotate the steering wheel. It allows drivers to easily maneuver at low speeds and turn their wheels when stopped without excessive effort. But like any mechanical system, general wear and tear or sudden damage can cause faults to occur.

Some of the most common power steering faults include:

  • Low or leaking power steering fluid
  • Failing power steering pump
  • Broken steering belt
  • Damaged steering rack or gear
  • Bad power steering pressure hose
  • Defective power steering control module (in electric systems)

These and other issues mean your [[steering assist]] isn’t fully helping your steering system when you turn the wheel. The level of assistance drops significantly or cuts out entirely, making your car much harder to steer.

Detecting Power Steering Problems

The first signs of power steering problems usually come through your steering wheel. Pay attention if you experience symptoms like:

  • A gradual increase in difficulty turning the steering wheel, especially at low speeds
  • A sudden loss of power steering assist while driving
  • Odd noises from the wheel well like whining, clunking or grinding
  • Excess vibration transferring through the steering wheel
  • The smell of burning fluid from under the hood

Your check engine light may also turn on with an specific fault code if your car’s computer detects an issue with the system.

Don’t ignore the warning signs! Driving with faulty power steering can quickly escalate into complete failure making it impossible to maneuver. Get your steering checked as soon as possible.

What Causes Steering Assist Faults?

Before attempting repairs, it helps to understand the possible root causes of common power steering faults. These include:

  • Low Fluid Levels: Insufficient or old power steering fluid prevents hydraulic pressure from building correctly to power the system.
  • Pump Failure: The power steering pump pressurizes fluid to assist turning. A worn or damaged pump cannot maintain adequate pressure.
  • Hose Damage: Cracked or leaking hoses that carry pressurized fluid will lead to pump cavitation and other issues.
  • Steering Gear Wear: Excess slack caused by a worn steering rack, steering gear,or linkage reduces steering responsiveness.
  • Belt Problems: Issues with the accessory belt that spins the pump affects fluid pressure delivery.
  • Leaking Seals: Leaking input shaft and other seals reduces available hydraulic pressure in the system.
  • Electric power steering Faults: Defective sensors, computer faults, or electric motor problems can disable electric steering assist.
  • Lack of Lubrication: Insufficient grease inside steering components generates extra friction against smooth steering action.

Identifying which of these potential issues is the trigger for your particular power steering fault code or symptom is key before attempting repair procedures.

Quick Fixes

If you notice gradual build up of steering problems like minor difficulty turning, try these simple quick checks before resorting to major repair procedures:

Refill Power Steering Fluid

Insufficient fluid is a main source of power steering faults. Pop the hood of your car and locate the power steering fluid reservoir. The level should be between MIN and MAX indicators on the translucent plastic tank. Top up the reservoir with compatible fluid if low.

Inspect the Serpentine Belt

A loose belt that also drives the water pump and alternator could be slipping on the power steering pump pulley. Tighten it using the automatic belt tensioner. Ensure the belt has no cracks or wears.

Flush Old Contaminated Fluid

Discolored fluid containing air bubbles or particles means moisture and dirt has contaminated the system. Drain all fluid and refill with fresh fluid after flushing critical parts with power steering cleaner solvent. Consider installing an inline filter as well during the flush.

When to Seek Repair Assistance

DIY fixes may temporarily resolve minor steering faults. But once you notice more pronounced symptoms or sudden complete losses of power assist, it likely indicates component damage needing professional service.

Don’t hesitate to visit a certified mechanic if you experience:

  • Difficulty when parking or inability to turn wheels at a stop
  • Need to excessively rotate the wheel to make turns
  • Loud noises from the steering system like clunks
  • Check engine warning light indicating power steering error codes
  • Steering fluid puddles under your car signalling leaks
  • Jerky or erratic movement of the steering wheel

A mechanic has specialized diagnostic computers to read sensor data and pinpoint internal issues. This helps accurately identify faults before attempting repairs that may require replacement of key components.

Power Steering Repair Options

When inspection determines the trigger for power steering problems, you’ll have a better idea of the type and extent repairs required. Here are some of the most common fixes:

Pump Replacement

A malfunctioning [[power steering pump]] prevents adequate pressurization of fluid. After diagnosis, mechanics can remove and replace the faulty pump with a new or refurbished unit. Costs range $350-800 parts and labor.

Steering Rack Replacement

If a worn or damaged steering rack and pinon is causing loss of responsiveness, steering sluggishness or looseness, the entire rack gear assembly may need replacement. This extensive repair costs approximately $900-2200 parts and labor.

Hose Replacements

Cracked, worn, or leaking hydraulic hoses don’t allow proper fluid pressure delivery. Single hose replacement costs $56 and $347. Full hose replacement can run $536 to $614

Seal and Bearing Repairs

Here are some other bearing repair costs:

  • Rear Main Seal Replacement: The national cost is between $63 and $2642 with an average of $1008.
  • Driveshaft Seal Replacement: The cost may start around $200 and reach $500 and higher.
  • Axle Shaft Bearing Replacement: The average cost is between $411 and $465.

Electric Assist Diagnostics

For newer cars with electric power steering, a fault code readout uses dealer diagnostic tools to detect problems in the electronic control system. Technicians can then reflash software if required or replace a bad assist motor if detected. Cost is model specific; typically ranges $50 to $500

Flush Debris Buildup

Extensive contamination slowly degrading system parts may necessitate disassembly to manually flush out sediment, varnish, and sludge using specialty cleaning chemicals according to repair manual guidelines. Combination flush and fluid replacement averages $125 to $250.

Avoiding Further Power Steering Problems

Once your car’s power steering performance gets restored through new parts and repairs, take preventative steps to maximize system longevity:

  • Check fluid monthly and top up with recommended fluid if dipstick level drops more than 1/2 inch
  • Inspect hoses for deterioration and listen for pump noises indicating imminent failure
  • When rotating tires, have steering system inspected for excess play
  • Use fuel system cleaners and quality oil to minimize contamination particle buildup

Taking these basic maintenance steps minimizes chances of repeat power steering faults occurring. But catching issues early and not delaying diagnosis also prevents bigger problems leading to disabled steering.


Don’t let continued steering difficulties negatively impact your driving experience or lead to safety issues from lane wandering. Utilize the guidance in this article to analyze your symptoms, strategically troubleshoot likely culprits, and determine necessary fixes for restoring normal steering responsiveness.

Whether replacing faulty components, refilling fluids, or flushing contamination from the system, reliable steering is achievable with targeted corrective actions. Follow recommended service schedules for power steering upkeep, and vehicle steering can retain smooth, predictable handling for many more years and miles of enjoyable driving.

Stay safe on the road by always paying attention to changes in steering feedback and reacting quickly to diagnose and fix emerging issues. Embrace proactive repairs when required rather than tolerating gradual deterioration until catastrophic failures happen. Keeping your power steering system in top form takes only minor time and financial investments that pay off greatly in ongoing safety assurance and driver convenience.

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