Most vehicles these days have power steering which allows you to turn the steering wheel smoothly without having to apply too much strength or pressure to it. Power steering works because of a pump that allows power steering fluid to flow into the gear for the steering.
This pump and gear are responsible for applying the proper amount of assistance so that the steering wheel can turn easily for the driver. Without the power steering pump, power steering would not be possible.
Related: Hydraulic vs Electric Power Steering
Top 5 Bad Power Steering Pump Symptoms
Power steering pumps will often last for years and sometimes even the lifetime of a vehicle. But not always. At some point, the possibility of the power steering pump failing in your vehicle may come up and it will likely be obvious when this happens.
There are plenty of signs you may notice when this starts to happen. Below are five of the most common symptoms to look out for when the power steering pump goes bad.
1) Difficulty Turning Wheel
The most common symptom you will experience is when you have difficulty turning the steering wheel. When you go to make a turn (especially at low speeds), the steering wheel will feel very stiff and you’ll have to use a lot of strength and force just to make a basic turn.
This should prompt you to check the power steering pump (or its connections) because it likely means one or the other is the issue.
2) Whining Noise
When you try to turn your steering wheel, you might hear a whining noise. This is an indication that a problem exists inside of your power steering system.
The whining noise could be due to many reasons, one of which being that the power steering pump has a leak in it. Either that or the power steering fluid might be too low. But you’ll want to check on both just in case.
3) Squealing Noise
A squealing noise might be heard when you first turn on your vehicle’s engine. This noise will remain consistent for about a minute after the car is started.
The reason for this likely has to do with a bad power steering pump that is making the belt inside the system slip. This means you must replace the pump and realign your belt.
4) Groaning Noise
This is the worst noise of them all. If you have neglected to repair or replace your already dysfunctional power steering pump, it will eventually make groaning noises.
This usually occurs if there is a leak or insufficient fluid going through the pump, which will ultimately ruin the whole power steering system.
Not only will you have to replace the pump at this point, but you may have to replace the whole system as well.
5) Chrome Flakes in Fluid
Checking the power steering fluid can tell you a lot about the condition of the power steering pump. Aside from assuring there is an adequate amount of power steering fluid in the system, you’ll also want to check to see the color and condition of the fluid.
If you see dark gray colors or chrome flakes in the fluid, then it means your pump may be damaged.
Power Steering Pump Replacement Cost
The cost of replacing a power steering pump will generally vary depending on which mechanic you bring it to and the make and model of your vehicle. However, on average, the total cost of replacing a power steering pump will be somewhere between $450 and $1,100. This price is comprised of the labor cost and parts cost.
The average labor cost is typically between $200 and $600.The average parts cost is at least $250 and at the most $500. Unless you are a skilled mechanic, it wouldn’t be worth trying to replace this pump yourself, and a failed power steering pump can be a safety issue. It is worth spending the extra money on the labor to make sure the repair is done right.