What does the power steering pump do?

Most modern cars have power steering systems. Most power steering systems currenyly use hydraulic fluid to make the steering wheel turn with less force. This makes driving smoother and easier.  All hybrid, plugin hybrids and Electric Vehicle (EV’s) use electric power steering. 

In a conventional hydraulic based power steering system the role of the power steering pump is to pump power steering fluid from the power steering reservoir, via the steering hoses to the power steering rack. This creates the necessary amount of pressure required to turn the front wheels easily for steering, especially at slow speeds for parking, or when the vehicle is stationary.

Learn more about the power steering system >


What causes power steering pump problems?

Loose or broken power steering belt – probably the most common cause we see of power steering problems is a loose power steering belt. If the power steering belt is really loose it tends not to make any noise when the steering wheel is turned.  This is because the power steering belt is slipping on the power steering pump pulley, which means the power steering pump is only partly driven, making it much harder for you to turn the steering wheel.

Another problem we sometime see if the power steering belt is completely broken, which means the power steering belt pulley is not rotated all all. This makes turning the steering wheel and slow or stationary speeds very difficult.

Therefore it is very important to have you power steering belt checked every 6 to 12 months for the correct power steering belt tension, signs of power steering belt cracking, splitting or perishing. This should coincide with your regular car service or warrant of fitness (WOF).

Wear over time – The power steering pump is constantly moving. It is driven by the power steering pump pulley, which drives the power steering pump which sends fluid to the rest of your steering system including the power steering rack. Like all moving parts, the component can wear over time, reducing its effectiveness, especially with the heating and cooling under the bonnet of the car.

Leaking – The power steering pump can leak, resulting in a loss of power steering fluid. This will adversely affect the way your steering wheel works. This often happens when the main power steering pump oil seals perish and start to go brittle. In turn dirt, grit and water can enter the power steering pump main shaft and accelerate the wear on the power steering pump main oil seal. If this happens you may seal red power steering fluid leaking when you park you vehicle. 

Old power steering fluid – Power steering fluid does last a long time, but eventually,  it will need replacing. Not replacing your power steering fluid can shorten the life of your pump due to the loss of lubrication and the build up of tiny metal particles from pump and other power steering parts wear over time. We suggest that you replace your power steering fluid every 80,000 km.

Learn more about what fluids your vehicle uses >


Symptoms of a failing power steering pump:

There are several common symptoms associated with a power steering pump not working correctly. These include:

Squealing / Screeching noise when turning the steering wheel – this is most often caused by a slightly loose power steering pump drive belt. When the load comes on the power steering via turning the steering wheel, the power steering pump belt is not tight enough to transmit all of the rotational force required, and therefore begins to slip. The slipping of the rubber power steering drive belt against the power steering pump pulley can make a very loud and embarrassing squealing or screeching noise when turning the steering wheel, especially at low or stationary vehicle speeds.

This squealing or screeching noise could also be a sign of a seizing power steering pump.

Whining noise – You may notice that your vehicle produces a louder than normal whining noise when you turn the steering wheel. This is a common sign of power steering pump failure. 

Difficulty turning – Your wheel may have increased resistance, making it difficult for you to turn. This can be caused by the pump not delivering full power steering fluid hydraulic force to the power steering rack. 

Leaks under the vehicle – You may notice power steering fluid leaking from underneath your vehicle, towards the front. Power fluid can be identified by its red/pink colour


Power Steer Pump Diagnostics & Replacement in Hamilton

Is your power steering pump in need of replacement? If so, we can help!

Our team of skilled mechanics can service your car’s steering system, allowing for easy, responsive turning. If your power steering pump needs replacement, we can remove the old one and equip your vehicle with a brand new one.

Please note, in order to pas a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) your power steering pump must be in good working order with no leaks, a good drive belt and no unusual sounds.

For all power steering pump replacement, installation and servicing in Hamilton, contact Grimmer Motors today!

Please Note – we don’t generally stock or supply just “parts only” for this service. We are a general automotive repair workshop. If you are able to bring your vehicle to us, we can diagnose the problem, find and fit the necessary parts, or organise the appropriate service for you.


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