Out of the 228 million licensed drivers in the United States, there were more than 5.2 million vehicle crashes resulting in 2.2 million injuries and 38,824 deaths in 2020, according to the National Safety Council. These statistics do not count the nearly 2,000 people each year who die from a collision in parking lots, on private roads and even driveways. While most car crashes occur between two or more vehicles, more than half of vehicular accidents involve pedestrians or stationary objects like poles and guardrails. These startling numbers are a stark reminder that staying in control while behind the wheel is the difference between life and death.
What Is Power Steering?
In every automobile, the steering system and suspension systems work together to assist you in controlling the direction of the vehicle. Vehicles with assisted power steering require less physical strength to effortlessly turn a corner or maneuver a parking lot. This control is made much easier with hydraulic power steering technology, which utilizes a series of belts, pumps and hydraulic fluid. Most modern vehicles rely on a separate dedicated motor, which is electric power steering.
Power Steering Failure Symptoms
If your power steering is malfunctioning or low on hydraulic fluid, you will suddenly find it very difficult to steer. You may notice your vehicle pulling to one side, your steering wheel feeling stiff or that your sedan, pickup, minivan or SUV is slow to respond to moving the steering wheel. These symptoms could mean steering or suspension components on the vehicle are loose or damaged. So, it is important to have your power steering serviced routinely, and schedule an appointment with an Auto Care center if:
- The power steering warning light illuminating on the dash
- A moan or whine when turning the steering wheel
- Squealing from the power steering motor under the hood
A noticeable increase in rough vibrations through the steering wheel can also indicate a failed rack or pinion or a complete loss of fluid due to power steering pump failure. Hydraulic oil (also called power steering fluid) lubricates the pulley and various moving parts to help your vehicle’s power steering system run smoothly. You are possibly due for a power steering fluid change if you feel the steering wheel resisting movement or hear shrill noises while turning.
Most experts agree that a hydraulic power steering flush is needed once every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. A flush is a great solution if the issue is contaminated power steering fluid. However, it is possibly that the underlying problem is a worn-out pump or a leaky hose resulting in a lack of pressure. You could also have a loose or broken drive belt.
Service Power Steering with NAPA
More than 17,000 NAPA Auto Care centers nationwide are committed to diagnosing a wide range of automotive problems and fixing them right the first time. The NAPA name stands for quality parts and services, including training programs that support the growth of successful independent auto repair businesses. NAPA Auto Care centers are known for reliable service performed by ASE-certified technicians and specialist mechanics.
Because steering a vehicle is extremely difficult without power steering assistance, having your commuter car towed to the nearest NAPA Auto Care center is the safest option. A complete vehicle inspection will reveal any issues and repairs needed to the drivetrain, suspension and steering systems.
As part of a professional hydraulic power steering service, your NAPA Auto Care technician will determine if you need an aftermarket replacement pump. Once it is installed, the tech will top off your power steering fluid to replace any hydraulic oil that leaked during the failure. If it is determined that your power steering reservoir was contaminated during the malfunction, the tech will bleed out the tank.
Once the new pump is installed, and the fluid is flushed and replaced (if necessary), the mechanic will inspect your power steering belt, as well as the rack and pinon system for any damage that the contamination or failure of the pump might have caused. After any inspection, the NAPA technician should thoroughly explain your vehicle’s condition. This includes documenting what problems are urgent and what repairs you can delay. If the damaged parts no longer perform as designed, the repair is considered necessary.
A NAPA Auto Care service technician can also make recommendations that are not critical, including proactively replacing parts likely to fail in less than a year. Your trusted mechanic will also advise you on maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. After confirming that the repaired hydraulic power steering system has no leaks, the tech will test drive your vehicle to ensure the symptoms have stopped.
Our promise to NAPA customers is to perform high-quality diagnostic and repair services by installing superior NAPA branded parts and components. Check out NAPA’s free nationwide Two-Year/24,000 Mile Peace-of-Mind Warranty, which covers parts and labor on qualifying repairs and services across The NAPA Network.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.