Another cause of clogged power steering lines is from outside contaminants getting into the system.
This often happens from allowing dust and debris to get into the systemwhile replacing a part or filling the power steering system. This type of problem can also happen from certain types of power steering fluid leaks. Sometimes fluid leaks will develop and only leak when the engine is not running. But, while it is running, the fluid pressure causes negative pressure in the system which results in outside air being sucked into the system. When that air is sucked in, outside contaminants like dust and other debris will be introduced into the system. That is why it is important to fix even small fluid leaks.
When these contaminants or metal shavings get stuck in the hoses, normally it will occur on the return line section. The reason for this is because once the fluid leaves the rack and pinion or steering gear it is traveling at a much lower PSI. The clog will often happen in the power steering cooler, or at any major bend in metal tubing sections. When this clog occurs, the system will be starved for fluid, while developing too much pressure at the same time. Clogs like this can cause the power steering to be erratic, working fine one moment while requiring excessive effort the next. For this reason, clogged power steering lines can be very dangerous because of their unpredictability. In addition to the erratic power steering assist, oftenthe power steering pump will whine or moan, indicating it is cavitatingdue to the lack of fluid flowing through the system.
In order to prevent these issues, it is in your best interest to thoroughly flush the power steering system any time you replace a component. You should also thoroughly flush the power steering system every 50,000 miles. If you think your power steering lines may be clogged it will require a power steering pressure tester to verify your concern. This is not a tool most DIY’ershave and must be used with cautionor you will run the risk of damaging your power steering system further.
If you have additional questions on your power steering system, please reach out to our technicians in the Ask the Experts forum.
Clogged Power Steering Line Symptoms
Clogged power steering lines can cause a number of different symptoms - some more noticeable than others. Causes of clogged power steering lines can be several things. Most of the time it is due to internal failure of a hose, power steering pump or rack and pinon/steering gear. Frequentlywhen one of those components fail, metal shavings or rubber bits will circulate through the system.