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Symptoms of a Bad Power Steering Pump

Posted by Michael Manning on

Difficult to Turn Car or Loud Squealing Noises When Turning?

Every part of your car was put there for some reason. They all serve a purpose. Admittedly, some of their purposes are more important than others when it comes to the drivability of your car or truck. Your power steering pump is a part that without it working properly, your vehicle will be nearly impossible to drive. There are symptoms to look for in a bad or failing power steering pump.

Power Steering Pumps Are Essential

Gone are the days of vehicles that don’t come with power steering. In modern vehicles, power steering pumps are essential to making sure your car or truck can safely and smoothly turn. It does this by reading the signal from the steering wheel and applying the appropriate pressure to the steering linkages causing your tires to effortlessly turn in the direction of your steering wheel. There are some symptoms of a bad power steering pump that you should look out for.

Turning the Steering Wheel Makes a Squealing Noise

Loud whining or squealing noises when you turn your vehicle is a sign that something is wrong with your power steering. This is usually indicative of having low fluid levels in your power steering reservoir. This should be the first thing you check. If the fluid level is low, fill it back up, because keeping your power steering fluid levels low could damage your whole power steering system.

Mechanic’s Note: Low power steering fluid is usually a symptom of a greater issue. After all, that fluid had to go somewhere. Look for leaks under your car. The liquid should be reddish-brown if it comes from your power steering. Adding fluid will get you from point A to B typically if the leak isn’t too bad but you shouldn’t drive more than you must. Adding power steering fluid is only a band-aid fix.

Steering Wheel Response is Stiff or Slow

When you go to make a turn and you notice that your vehicle isn’t responding as much to the steering wheel as it should be, that could be a sign that your power steering failing. If you are sitting still and turning the wheel for a sharp turn and you notice that the steering is stiff and hard to turn, that is a sign of either a bad or failing power steering pump.

High Pitched Squeal When Starting Your Car

Can a high-pitched squeal when you start the car indicate that you have a bad power steering pump? Absolutely!! It could also mean that you have a bad water pump, alternator, AC compressor, idler pulleys, serpentine belt, etc. Or just that you need to put a little more tension on the belt at the tensioner. That squeal is a GREAT starting ground for research but don’t hang your hat on that symptom until you diagnose further.

Odd Colored Puddle Under Your Car

What do we mean by “odd color”? If you ever had a power steering leak, you would know exactly what we mean. The puddles from power steering leaks are usually reddish-brown and the fluid is relatively thin. Close to the consistency of brake fluid or transmission fluid.

If you notice a reddish-brown puddle of liquid on the ground under your car, you should inspect the power steering pump for cracks in the housing. You're looking for a crack that appears to be bleeding the power steering fluid. Also check the reservoir body, hoses, and power steering lines for evidence of leaks.

What if My Power Steering Pump is Bad

If you find that the cause of these reddish-brown spots on your driveway is a failing or bad power steering pump, you can have a new power steering pump delivered to you by the next day if you order one from Partsology by 3 pm.


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