The sound of air being pushed through the power steering system is very telling, but there is a larger problem than just the noise. The power steering system is a hydraulic system that requires consistent hydraulic fluid pressure to function correctly, so if there is air the system you may develop stiffer than normal steering, resulting in more effort required to steer the vehicle. However, there can also be instances of more effort required to steering the vehicle or “hard spots” in the steering that are not related to air being trapped in the power steering system.
These “hard spots” in the steering can be indictive of a failure in your steering gear box, rack and pinion, or steering shaft. There are a number of gears inside a rack and pinion that are lubricated and cooled by power steering fluid. If the fluid becomes too hot or develops containments due to not being changed at required intervals, it can cause the gears to wear out and develop missing teeth. This will result in areas of stiff or very loose steering. If you are experiencing any issues with your hard parts and do not have any leaks present in the power steering system, it is crucial that you replace the failing component. In addition to the failing component, it is strongly suggested you perform a power steering fluid flush. If your vehicle is equipped with a power steering cooler, it should also be replaced at that time.
If you’re shopping for an aftermarket power steering cooler, you’ll want to check out coolers manufactured to original OE specifications. If you have any power steering cooler questions, reach out to the technicians in our Ask the Experts forum.
Signs Your Power Steering is Going Bad
There are a number of different signs that your power steering system is developing issues. Most people have heard a key sound that becomes present when your power steering system has developed an issue, and that is a moaning sound under coming from under the hood when the steering wheel is turned side to side. That noise is the most telling sign of a power steering system that is failing. The reason for the noise is normally due to air being in the system and the hydraulic power steering pump cavitating, causing a mixture of both air and fluid to be pushed through the power steering system.