What is a power steering leak? How will you know if your power steering fluid is leaking? Why is your power steering fluid leaking? Can you drive with a power steering leak? How is a power steering leak fixed? These questions will be answered in this article so do stick around.
To answer the umbrella question: A power steering leak is certainly dangerous. Yes, you can drive around with a power steering leak but not for long because it will become increasingly more difficult to steer and extremely dangerous and lead to several problems with your car.
If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t think much about your power steering until something goes wrong. Then it becomes very important!
By definition, a power steering leak occurs when your car loses power steering fluid. This loss or decrease of fluid makes your car more difficult to drive. A leak in your power steering occurs mainly because of time and wear. In other cases, the power steering can also be damaged by unfiltered, impure power steering fluid.
When it comes to fixing a power steering leak, your vehicle will need a power steering flush to clean it and get rid of the debris. Also, certain parts will need to be tightened or replaced.
What is a power steering leak?
Let us discuss a power steering leak a little more extensively. A power steering leak is when your car loses power steering fluid, making it more difficult to steer it. When this happens, your car hesitates when going around curves or you take sharp curves much faster or slower than you should.
With time, if you continue to drive with a power steering leak, your steering wheel might lock up altogether.
We can all agree that when it gets to this point, the result will be detrimental or deadly. Therefore, how will you know if your power steering fluid is leaking and what even causes it? That leads us to the next question.
How will you know if your power steering fluid is leaking?
1. Fluid where you were parked
If your car has a power steering leak, you will always find fluid beneath the car’s engine area on the floor of where your car was parked. This fluid will mostly be noticeable in the morning when you start your car to drive out.
This means whenever you want to step out, be sure to check the floor to see if there are any fluid or oil stains on the floor.
2. Ignition noise
If your car has a power steering leak, the steering pump will always squeal when the ignition is turned on. This is another way you can identify a power steering leak.
In some cases, after the squeal, the dashboard warning light may be triggered. Therefore, be on the lookout for this.
3. Grinding or whining noise
If your car has a power steering leak, you will notice that as you turn your steering wheel, there will be some grinding noises. In the absence of a power steering leak, turning your steering wheel in whatever direction should not produce any whining sound.
4. Delayed steering wheel response
If you try to make, say, a U-turn, and you realize you are stuck on the other side of the road, moving back and forth because of a stiff steering wheel, your car has most likely had a power steering leak.
Any hesitation or delay in the response of your steering wheel is caused by a faulty steering system i.e. a power steering leak.
Why is your power steering fluid leaking?
If you have driven your car for a long period, it can develop a power steering leak. Every component of a car is subject to wear and tear and may need replacement in the long run. In light of this several factors contribute to the leak and they are:
1. Wear and tear
The first reason why your power steering wheel might be leaking is because of wear and tear. Over time, all the parts in your car will start to deteriorate and this will include the power steering system.
The seals that keep the fluid in may become brittle and crack with age, leading to a leak.
2. Unfiltered, impure power steering fluid
Another reason for a power steering leak is if you’re using unfiltered or impure power steering fluid. if you don’t regularly change your car’s oil, dirt and other particles can get into the system and damage it.
This is why it’s important to always use the recommended fluids and filters when servicing your car. By way of identification, the regular steering fluid is usually pink or red, or clear in some cases.
A contaminated steering fluid will be changed to either black or brown. Once this contaminated fluid gets into your steering system, your power steering will begin to have problems.
How long you have owned the car and how often you use it, maybe to blame for a power steering leak. The higher the mileage on your car, the more your seals are likely to break down. Mostly, these broken pieces will float on the steering fluid and make it more difficult for you to move your steering wheel when driving.
4. Faulty parts
A power steering leak can also be caused by a faulty hose, pump, or belt. This occurs when one of these parts malfunctions and starts to leak steering fluid.
If your car is overheated, this can also cause the power steering system to malfunction and start leaking fluid. When a car overheats, it means that the system is not working as it should be and this will includes the power steering.
6. Driving at high speeds
Also, if you usually drive at high speeds, especially for long hours, and negotiate heavy urban traffic, you may have to be on the lookout for a power steering leak.
Apart from these making your driving experience not pleasurable, your life and the lives of others will be in danger as you continue to use the car.
Can you drive with a power steering leak?
You can certainly drive your car if it develops a power steering leak. Indeed, you may not even notice any change in your car’s performance when there is initially a power steering leak and if you are not vigilant. However, though the leak may not be apparent initially, it is dangerous in the long term.
The issue is, that if a power steering leak is not detected quickly enough, the steering pump will run dry due to constant fluid leakage. This will hinder the process of turning the steering wheel when maneuvering curves.
This will in turn mean that if the problem is not fixed, it may lead to an accident due to the difficulty in turning the faulty steering wheel. Case in point, it is not safe to drive with a leaking power steering fluid.
How is a power steering leak fixed?
If you have read this far, I am pretty sure you are saying to yourself, “Ehe, how can this be fixed?” Let us get into that.
In some cases, a power steering leak may just require adjusting the steering system to normalize its operation again. On the other hand, if the leak has persisted for a longer time, you will need the services of a professional to do the following:
1. Flush the power steering
If the cause of the power steering leak is contaminated fluid, flushing or cleaning of the power steering is required to get rid of the dirt and debris. This can be done by a professional or, if you are feeling brave, you can do it yourself at home.
Just make sure that you have the correct equipment and safety gear before starting the job. Remember to read your car’s manual for more information on how to do this safely.
2. Replace worn out parts
If your car has a power steering leak because your nuts are loose or other steering components are worn out, you may want to tighten those nuts and replace the other defective parts.
3. Apply power steering stop leak
Power steering stop leak products are great in helping to curb issues with a power steering leak only if the holes are tiny. If the holes are bigger, that will require more product and maybe a little heavy on your pocket.
In conclusion, a power steering leak is dangerous, especially in the long run. You can certainly drive around with a power steering leak but not for long because it will not be pleasurable to drive your car anymore. This situation makes it more difficult to steer and of course, is extremely dangerous.
We hope this article has been of help. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!