Your power steering system affects your vehicle’s handling. Any issue with your power steering, such as power steering fluid leaks, can lead to unsafe driving conditions, therefore, you need to have it checked right away to avoid expensive repairs and/or dangerous driving situations. Most vehicles today have hydraulic power steering. This system operates using a belt that drives a pump which creates the pressure needed for the power steering. You are able to control your steering with either a steering gearbox or a rack and pinion system. If your car’s power steering pump is working with low fluid it could damage your entire power steering system. This can occur because metal particles from the pump can enter the system and cause internal failure.
Identifying Power Steering Fluid Leaks
If you notice that you are unable to steer your vehicle with ease, or keep the steering wheel straight, then you may have power steering fluid leaks. Power steering fluid leaks are challenging to identify since the power steering pump is bolted to the engine so it’s difficult to determine if you have an engine oil leak or power steering leak. The easiest way to determine if you have power steering leaks is to keep track of your power steering fluid level. Check your reservoir dipstick attached to the cap. If your power steering has a leak, you can also look at the steering rack boot and try to determine if it is wet with power steering fluid.
The Most Common Causes of Power Steering Fluid Leaks
There are various causes for power steering leaks which you need to have repaired as soon as possible before you damage your steering system. The causes include a leaking seal, hose, pump, rack/steering gear housing and even an overflowing reservoir.
Power Steering Hoses
There is a number of hoses which are part of the power steering system. These hoses can leak due to vibrations which cause the hoses to rub against other engine components and eventually wear-out and start leaking fluid. Additionally, the connections between the hoses and other steering system part can be sources of leaks if the connections are not tight enough or if the seals are damaged. The hose which is most likely to spring a leak is usually the pressure hose which is under constant pressure.
Power Steering Pump
The power steering pump operates under constant pressure which may cause the pump casing to crack and leak. Furthermore, the seal around the pump shaft may wear out and leak as well. Another leak source could be a worn out gasket between the two halves of the pump or loose bolts which hold the two halves together.
Power Steering Rack or Gear Housing
The housing system’s seals, whether it is the rack housing for rack and pinion systems or steering gear housing, can leak fluid. If the seals for the pressurized power assist piston are worn out, they result in a leak in power steering fluid.
Overfilled Power Steering Fluid Reservoir
One of the simplest and least damaging leaks can occur when the power steering reservoir is filled over the maximum level. If this happens power steering fluid may begin to leak from the cap of the reservoir giving the impression that there is a leak.