Most cars today have a power steering system which helps the driver turn the steering wheel more easily and with minimal effort. This system involves a type of hydraulic fluid called power steering fluid that gives power to the steering wheel so that it can be turned smoothly. First, there is a reservoir that stores this power steering fluid and supplies it to the power steering pump. Then, whenever you attempt to turn the wheel, the pump sends pressurized fluid into the steering gear. That is how easy steering can happen.
Low Power Steering Fluid Symptoms
If your power steering system ever loses its power steering fluid, then it will fail to operate properly. There needs to be a certain amount of power steering fluid in this system always. You can check the fluid level by popping open the hood and locating the fluid reservoir near the engine. This reservoir should be easy to spot because it is usually yellow or white and has a cap that is black. You will be able to see right on the reservoir where the fluid line is located. If it is below the “MIN” marking, then it means you don’t have enough power steering fluid in the reservoir.
The symptoms of low power steering fluid are easy to notice because they will affect your driving in one way or another. Once you spot them, verify the fluid is low by checking the fluid level in the reservoir. After it is confirmed, flush out the reservoir completely and then add all new power steering fluid until it is just below the MAX line.
Below are the top 7 symptoms of low power steering fluid.
1) Difficulty Steering
The main symptom of low power steering fluid is difficulty steering. This fluid is the power force that makes steering easier. If you don’t have enough fluid to flow into the gear, then steering will be harder. You will notice this as you try to rotate the wheel left or right. You’ll be forced to use more arm strength because the wheel will have so much resistance to it.
2) Jerky Steering Wheel
If you feel a lot of jerkiness in your steering wheel as you rotate it left or right, then you might have low power steering fluid. This will especially be the case if you’re turning at low speeds, such as turning into parking spaces or driveways.
3) Turning Causes Sounds
When you have low power steering fluid, you will hear all kinds of sounds coming from your power steering system. They will be heard each time you try to turn the steering wheel, especially while turning at low speeds. Once again, this could be when turning into parking lots or driveways.
4) Steering Wheel Locks Up
As the jerkiness of the steering wheel gets worse, there will come a point when your steering wheel locks up altogether. This will be a very dangerous situation to be in, so you’re encouraged to stop driving immediately and get new power steering fluid in your system.
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5) Steering Fluid Leak
A reasonable explanation for low power steering fluid is a leaky power steering system. If you see puddles of power steering fluid underneath your vehicle, then this is a clear symptom of low levels of fluid. This steering fluid is normally either red or pink. It is very easy to recognize on the ground if there is a leak present.
6) Screeching Sound Under the Hood
If you hear screeching noises coming from your hood each time you rotate the steering wheel, then this could be an indicator that you have low power steering fluid levels in your system.
7) Squealing Sounds at Start Up
If you’ve let the low power steering fluid problem persist in your system, it will eventually cause your power steering pump to get damaged. This will ultimately ruin your entire power steering system, resulting in squealing sounds to be made each time you start the vehicle.