Although several newer vehicles are coming equipped with electric power steering, the vast majority of cars and trucks on the road use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.
Power steering fluid provides power assistance and protects components from rust and corrosion. Manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. The old fluid is drained, and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks and the pump won’t last as long.
Signs that you may be having problems with your power steering system include the need to constantly to add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out.
In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The tie rods, arms, joints and knuckles that turn the wheels can become worn or damaged, becoming a serious safety issue. A standard alignment service includes an inspection of steering components. If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your service advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure.
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