The ability to steer a vehicle comes from its power steering system. The two types of power steering systems are electric and hydraulic. Electric power steering is found in luxury vehicles and it uses electric motors to generate the energy for the steering. Hydraulics is the older form of power steering which is still used today in most ordinary cars.
Without a power steering system, a driver would not have the strength to rotate the steering wheel fast enough to make a necessary turn. Basically, it would become a real struggle to steer the vehicle because there would be no force to help you. A power steering system provides the steering mechanism with the necessary energy that it needs to allow the wheels to smoothly respond after the steering wheel is rotated.
Top 5 Symptoms
In a hydraulic power steering system, energy is transmitted to the steering mechanism through the use of fluid. If you were to have a low amount of power steering fluid, then your steering ability will be jeopardized. To understand the full range of symptoms that you will likely experience from having a low amount of power steering fluid, below are the top 5 symptoms.
Steering Problems – Obviously, the main symptom of low power steering fluid is going to be steering problems. You will find that your steering wheel will become stiff and difficult to turn and rotate. If you let this problem continue for too long, you will likely have an accident because it will be nearly impossible to drive your vehicle properly.
Noisy Turning – The power steering system uses a pump to add pressure to the steering mechanism. The pump needs to circulate the fluid to allow for smooth steering. However, if there is more air in the pump and less fluid, there will be strange noises generated each time you turn the steering wheel. All you need to do is fill your fluid reservoir with more power steering fluid and then you should notice these noises going away.
Jerkiness of the Wheel – When you go to rotate your steering wheel to make a turn, it will jump around and feel very jerky. For example, if you turn the steering wheel right, it might jerk to the left and then back to the right. You will notice this happening more as you slowly drive on the road or turn into parking spaces. This is the result of low power steering fluid. Do not let this problem continue because the jerkiness will only get worse. Then it could cause you to have an accident as you attempt to turn one way but get pulled another way.
Leaky Fluid – One clearly visible sign that you have low power steering fluid is if it is leaking underneath the vehicle. All you need to do is check under your vehicle and see if there is a puddle of liquid there. Of course, this liquid could also be something other than power steering fluid, such as water or oil. However, if the liquid has a pink or red color, it is definitely power steering fluid that is leaking out.
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Steering Wheel Locks – Aside form jerkiness and difficulty turning the steering wheel, sometimes having a lower amount of power steering fluid will cause the steering wheel to lock up completely. You could be calmly driving along and then find that your steering wheel does not rotate at all. This would be in extreme circumstances where you are practically out of power steering fluid completely. Hopefully, you will not let it get to this point because the previous 4 symptoms should occur before this one does.