Normally the first sign the power steering pump is going bad is noise. The pump will begin to whine or moan. This noise is traditionally a symptom of the pump moving air through a system that is designed to move fluid, and the mixing of the air and fluid is the cause of the noise. This noise can also be produced due to a worn-out pulley that is used to drive the pump. If you notice a whine under the hood of your vehicle and you want to determine if it is the power steering pump, you can turn the steering wheel side to side while the vehicle is parked and running. If you notice a tone change it is definitely coming from the power steering system. Now, it is just a matter of determining what is causing the problem.
In addition to the pump making noise, a failing power steering pump can also have a symptom of intermittent tough steering. This can be caused by the pump pulley slipping on the pump shaft. The result can be difficult to diagnose because it can be symptoms of other power steering issues. If you notice that your steering goes from normal to stiff erratically, it is best to have the system inspected thoroughly. You should start by inspecting the power steering fluid level. If the fluid level is low, top it off and see if the problem goes away. (Although the power steering system is a closed system and low fluid is a sign of a leak and should be further inspected.) If the problem does not go away, you may have a bad power steering pump. A bad power steering pump is just one of many possibilities with this symptom, and the rest of the steering system should be inspected thoroughly, prior to coming to the conclusion it is the pump.
Now that you have a better understanding of the common symptoms of a bad power steering pump, it’s time to take a look at your own vehicle. If you have questions on aftermarket power steering coolers or want to learn more, check out our Ask the Experts forum.
Symptoms of a Bad Power Steering Pump
Failing power steering pumps can exhibit a number of different symptoms, some of them more obvious than others. You should always be observant of changes to the way your vehicle is operating. If you notice any changes and are unsure of what may be causing them, it is best to have a professional inspect your vehicle to determine if the changes are of any safety concern. That being said, if you notice any of the following issues, it is possible your power steering pump is the cause.