Most auto problems happen gradually. Most power steering failure gives you signs. That is not to say the problem can’t happen suddenly.It can, even if well maintained according to manufacturers’ specifications. Notwithstanding, the safest thing is to listen, monitor and observe signs of possible power steering failure.
Warning Indications of Power Steering failure
Heaviness in Steering Sign: When all is normal, turning a power steering should take minimum effort. As soon as you feel any slight change in ability to steer that is when you realize that it takes more effort (no matter how little) to turn your steering, problem is on the way. Get it checked as soon as you can.
Noise Sign: One characteristic of a good driver is ability to listen. When driving, do not ignore any strange noise. Stop at a safe place and check, ensure it is coming from your car; fro it could be from car behind you or lane next to yours. However, after confirming the noise is from your car, consider the nature of the noise.
If it is whining, moaning or shrieking noise, your power steering might be approaching a problem. It is likely your power steering fluid has gone down, possibly as a result of leakage. Stop at a safe place. Open your bonnet and check the power steering fluid level. Also check the underneath for leakage.
Leakage Sign: After parking your car overnight or for some hours, it is good idea to always check the ground underneath the car before driving it. If you spot any stain on the floor, confirm if it is water, fuel or oil, all of which are no good signs. If it is oily stain, please be sure of what colour it is. If it is red or pink, it is likely to be your power steering fluid. If you are unable to ascertain the colour, open your bonnet and check underneath the power steering fluid container. If you spot oil stain under it, then your power steering oil is leaking and so needs urgent attention.
(A) When Engine Stalls
If, for any reason, your engine goes off on motion, your steering too will virtually become impossible to steer. It can be dangerous. If your vehicle uses power brakes, depressing the brake pedal will be harder. Your best bet is to gradually manage to slow down enough for the brake to give you final stop.
What to do : After safely pulling up, restart the engine. Once the engine is running, test your steering by turning it left and right. If it works, then all is well, keep moving, although you may need to attend to what stalled the engine suddenly, which is a different case.
(B) Power Steering Fails While Engine is running
When it suddenly becomes mostly difficult to steer, while driving on speed, do not panic. Do not slam the brake. Calmly bring the car to a stop by doing as follows:
1. Reduce speed, use your indicator to inform fellow road users that you want to steer onto the last lane.
2. Drive slowly to nearest mechanic workshop or call for a towing vehicle.
3. As soon as you are on the last lane, put on your hazard light. Remember, with faulty power steering, it will be harder to steer.
Advice: To prevent power steering trouble, check your automatic Transmission Fluid level daily before driving out. Watch out for coolant, brake or ATF oil leakage. If any of such drops on the drive shaft-power steering pump connecting belt, the belt would become slippery and so power steering will stop working.
Taking time to check, observe and listen will save you from lots of troubles, including that of power steering failure.
Take care, and be careful out there.
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