Why You Should Take Urgent Action If You Suspect Problems with Your Power Steering

The power steering system fitted to your car or truck can certainly make life a lot easier. You don't need to turn the wheel so forcefully when parking in a tight spot, and you can get to the end of a long journey in better shape. Yet this system does have a number of individual and interconnected parts, and whenever you have added complexity, issues can arise. What can go wrong with your power steering system, and how can you tell?

Life Made Easy

A conventional steering system features a column and a rack. The column runs from just below the steering wheel, through the bulkhead and down beneath the engine. There, it connects to the rack, which runs from one side of the vehicle to the other and is connected at each end to a road wheel.

When you turn the steering wheel it, in turn, rotates the column and this will move the rack to the left or the right inside its container. Without a power steering system, the amount of force that you apply to the steering wheel will determine how far the road wheel turns, but with PAS (power-assisted steering), technology takes over.

How Everything Works

Alongside the steering rack, you will find a special pump. This is connected to a cylinder full of oil and that oil is fed through pipes into the steering rack casing. Once there, it is fed into chambers each side of a piston fitted within the rack.

When you turn the steering wheel, a signal is sent to the pump, and this will push oil under pressure down to the piston. This pressure will be applied to the left or right of the piston as appropriate so that the road wheel can be turned with a minimum of effort.


At either end of the steering rack are rubber bellows and tiny seals. These can perish over time, and if they do, oil can leak from the chamber. The hoses themselves can sometimes perish, as they are exposed to high temperatures and road conditions. Once again, oil might leak from damaged hoses, and this could ultimately cause the entire system to fail.

Worsening Problem

If all of the oil leaks out, the pump may seize, and this can adversely affect the steering. You may find it increasingly difficult to turn the steering wheel or, in the worst-case scenario, the entire mechanism could jam.

Urgent Action

If you notice spots of oil on the ground beneath the steering rack or feel that the wheel is very difficult to turn, act now. Take the vehicle in for repair as soon as possible from a safety perspective.

To learn more, contact a car repair shop.