Power Steering Pump
Is your power steering acting up lately and you suspect the power steering pump to be the culprit? You'd better waste no time and troubleshoot the problem right away to prevent it from causing more serious damage in the steering system.
The pump supplies the steering system with the hydraulic power that it needs to function well. This pump is powered by the engine through a belt and pulley, and any irregularity in the pump can lead to poor steering performance. Since the steering controls the direction of the wheels, failure in this system, if neglected, can result in road mishaps. Among the problems you'll encounter with the pump are leaks and bad bearings.
Here are the ways to know when it's time to get a new pump for your power steering:
Drive the car and observe its steering performance.
If the vehicle has a bad power steering pump, turning its steering wheel will be harder than usual. So when driving the vehicle, observe the effort you exert in turning the wheel. If it takes you a lot of effort, it may be time to have the pump checked.
Besides difficulty in turning the steering wheel, a steering pump that needs maintenance produces a loud, high-pitched sound each time you turn the wheel. This power steering pump noise will stop as soon as you straighten the wheel out.
Visually inspect the power steering pump for leaks and rust.
Consult your owner's manual for the instructions on how to access the steering pump and check the part. Look for signs of leaks not just on the pump but also on the lines at the back of the pump, at the rack, and right where the lines and the gear or rack meets. If you notice leaks, have it fixed right away and refill the steering pump reservoir.
While at it, test the system to be sure that the problem is just caused by the leak and the pump isn't damaged. The fluid won't get into the system right away, so it's okay if it took the system a little while to respond.
Check the pump belt's tension.
If the power steering pump is powered by a V-belt, the belt will twist 90 degrees if it has the right tension. If you think the twists are less than 90 degrees, the belt may be too tight and that's probably what's causing the pump pulley to work inefficiently. It can be remedied by loosening the belt's tension. On the other hand, if it becomes too loose, it won't be able to make the pump run properly, so replacement is necessary.
Check the belt's pulley.
You can do this by taking the belt off the pulley by wobbling the pulley back and forth. If the pulley shakes, it's now time to replace your power steering pump. Another way to check the condition of the pulley in case it doesn't wobble is to rotate it. If there is resistance or it creates some kind of noise as you spin it, the bearings are at fault. Still, the best remedy for such condition is power steering pump replacement.