If whining sounds, squealing noises, hard steering, and the insensitive wheel turns sound familiar to you, you may want to take a look at the power steering pump of your car.
Most of our cars, nowadays, have a power steering system integrated into the engine. Thanks to this hydraulic braking system, you don’t have to get worked up about quick turns and smooth steering.
However, you would only keep your mind off the buttery steering until there is a call for a power steering pump replacement. This is because a faulty one can mean you’re headed for the rocks!
Like other components for your vehicle, the power steering system uses mechanical trickery to ensure your steering experience requires you to put in the least bodily effort.
This also means the power steering pump is prone to depreciation and may need eventual replacement like the oil pan or any other parts.
In this article, we’re going to cover:
What is a Power Steering Pump?
To start on simpler notes, you may want to ask yourself why older models of cars are more challenging to steer than the newer ones? It is because the classic cars did not include what we now designate as a power steering system.
Now, the absence of power steering does not mean you would not be able to steer at all. Still, with more advancement in hydraulics, the steering system was engineered to become more flowing with a special pump system.
The Power steering pump is one of the more significant parts of the hydraulic braking system of a car that makes up for the steering segments. The role of the integrated pump is to create the necessary pressure on the steering fluid so that it circulates and travels in the direction needed.
The fluid is stored in the reservoir, and when it reaches the pump through a hose, the wheels turn with the help of this mechanism. Subsequent to that, the fluid is conveyed away from the pump creating pressure again. A flow restrictor is also at craft, creating a certain resistance by tumbling the pump’s output.
Other components of the power steering pump system include rack and pinions and are accessories that are responsible to create and convert a rotational motion into a linear one. These are the parts that make the wheels turn.
Why is a Power Steering Pump Important?
The power steering pump was superintended to be an unceasing process when your engines are on the roll. This is particularly wide accepted among drivers because of how comfortable it makes driving. Other than handling and maintaining thinner fluids at higher pressures, the pump also balances the vacuum.
With no grunts, and minimal physical effort on the steering, you can cruise smoothly about with assistance from the hydraulics-led power steering pump. For a more explicit perception of how a power steering pump works, check out this video.
If your vehicle consists of power steering, the power steering pump and its functionality is a markedly integral part of the car’s engine system.
A faulty pump system is a warning that you may have to opt for a power steering pump replacement promptly. Not only is this paramount for safety concerns but also smooth, noise-free driving.
But then again how would you know when your power steering pump needs to be reinstated? Steer away to the next section to find out the exact indications that scream a faulty power steering pump.
Signs of a Power Steering Pump Failure
Now that you have an idea of the purpose of a power steering pump, you may realize why a rightly operative one is so valuable. Consequently, it may also make you aware of how a faulty pump system can be damaging when you are driving.
Akin to other components of the car, the power steering pump, which uses hydraulic mechanisms coupled with electrical equipment, also wears out and deteriorates over time. Regular maintainers are ones who just perceive the signs early.
While many are concerned themselves about the power steering structure’s repair and replacement costs, others are jumbled about the signs and symptoms of a faulty power steering pump system. How do you know when you have to replace the engine component?
Here are some distinct signs to look out for when you are in that driving seat:
Your Steering Wheel is Rigid and Unstable
The main issue is within the mechanical portion of the steering pump. And hence, a more distinctive sign that you may notice is while having your hands on the steering wheel. If you steer in one direction, and your car takes a tad bit longer to turn, that could be your first-hand warning.
In worse case scenarios, the car stops turning at all, which can be quite hazardous. If your steering wheel feels inflexible and unresponsive, the pump may need to be replaced. You would predominantly have difficulty steering at lower speeds.
Nevertheless, you may want to be aware of the fact that a rigid steering wheel is an insignia that your steering pump has reached a point of complete failure. Even if you are in the middle of a long road and notice that the steering wheel does not turn due to stiffness, you may want to stop the engine rapidly for safety reasons.
A common term used by mechanics to refer to the unpredictable steering wheel is steering wander. Among other causes like belt displacement, changes in the fluid hydraulics can result in instability in steering.
You Notice Fluid Leaks
The optimal function of the power steering pump essentially depends on the movements of the power steering fluid that travels through the hose, to the valves, pistons, and of course, the pump itself to create the required pressure.
If you discern that the level or color of the fluid has changed, you may have issues with the power steering pump. The color of the fluid is usually red, clear, or pink. You may notice gray toner alone with chrome touches to warn you about an impending pump replacement.
At times, the leak can be as visible as dripping fluid from the engine to the ground. An inept amount of fluid would mean that the link that this pressurizing liquid creates between the steering wheel and the wheel that turns will be disrupted.
Power steering fluids also have the ability to lubricate parts on the move, and hence a leak could well decrease the overall performance of your car’s engine.
You Can Hear a Squealing Noise from the Hood
The loud and squealing noise every time you turn your engine is one of the major and noticeable signs that you have to replace your power steering pump immediately. Not only is the noise unbearably annoying, it also means that the system belt needs realigning.
The slip or shift in the slip belt occurs due to inadequacy in the power steering pump fluids. When you start your car’s engine, the pump system in your car’s mechanical system automatically starts to circulate the fluid.
With little fluid, the circulation cannot be completed and hence displace the timing belt from the place. This in turn creates all the squealing sounds from the hood, letting you know that it’s time to splash on some replacement cast.
Other than checking the fluid reservoir tank, you may also want to keep an eye out in the input shaft of the pump. If you want to be thorough with the inspection for leaks, you may also want to examine for fluid drips inside the bellow.
You Hear Whining, Knocking, and Other Noises
Other than the loud and distinctive squealing nose on starting the engine, there are few other noises you could hear to enlighten yourself about the condition of your power steering pump and whether it needs to replace.
The importance of the fluid level on your steering pump system is understated. If the fluids are running low, you would be notified by a certain whining noise every time you steer. The low fluid levels are mostly due to a leakage in the pump.
Often most people ignore that occasional knocking sound from somewhere in the engine. However, this is one of the last warnings that your power steering pump gives you before it completely fails.
If your power steering pump needs replacement, you can also expect to hear grunting noises when you drive. Groaning or grunting noises are hard to neglect and hence never escape a driver’s ears. This is another sign that the power steering fluid has issues and your pump requires replacement.
Can You Drive When Your Power Steering Pump Replacement is Essential?
So, what’s really the fuss about a few grunting noises and a steering wheel that needs a little more effort to turn on the roads? A lot of drivers are ready to settle with the troubling steering ways just to save the replacement cost that comes with changing the power steering pump.
Though, that is profoundly unsafe as a failing power steering pump system can cause detrimental accidents while you are trying to turn that rigid steering wheel or make do with the leaking fluids.
If you have a hunch the whining noise is coming from the hood or the grunting noise is more than just an occasional warning signal, you may want to tow on the roadside or a repair shop as soon as you have one insight.
When the steering wheel is inflexible, you can still drive a few hours without any critical accident risks. But, by doing so you are unwittingly causing perpetual damages to your power steering system and hence to the engine of the car.
The pumping fluids and the overall mechanical assemble are a remarkably essential part of your car’s engine.
With irregular pressure circulation due to low levels of fluid, if you continue driving a car with a faulty pump system, there is a high risk of the timing belt snapping at any time. This would only mean you and your car being stranded anywhere on the road.
If the added costs are making you delay the replacement, you can always do it yourself!
Power Steering Pump Replacement Cost
The immediate reaction to noticing the signs of a failing power steering pump precedes the thoughts about the replacement cost. Power steering replacement costs are high, but surely not as much as replacing an entire engine or buying a new replacement car.
The average cost of replacing a power steering pump can vary from $100 to $250 for the parts, while the mechanic or labors costs can vary from $200 to $300. If there is a need for additional parts to be repaired or replaced, you may have to spend up to $600 conditional on a number of aspects.
How much you would have to spend on replacing your power steering assemblies would vary depending on certain factors. The major factor being the type of car you have, the model of the car, and of course the manufacturing design of the engine in question.
If you own a Chevrolet Silverado model, you might need $364 – $647, while replacing the power steering pump on a Honda Civic could cost a total of $396 – $527.
Linking to the model of the vehicle you are driving and whether it’s the new one or an older model, the factor of availability would come into play. For newer models, parts are easily available and hence cost less to replace.
As we know, your repair shops and local mechanics will charge according to how much time it requires them to finish the work, and more importantly, the city and area you live in. ASC breaks down the costs area wise and gives you details on extra costs.
Costs of Individual Power Steering Components
- Power Steering Pump: $200 to $600
- Tank Reservoir: $150 – 250
- Pump Hose: $100- $300
- Rack and Pinion: $300 and above
How to Save Replacement Costs
Whatever the model and whichever city or area you live in, we recognize that the replacement costs along with the additional labor cost can make you lose sleep and bills. Hence, we’ve looked into the way you could use it to reduce the replacement costs marginally.
One way of humbling the high costs is by shopping for the replacement parts yourself and letting the mechanic do the corporal work on the engine. You can look for cheaper parts in the aftermarket but there will be shipping costs if your local shops are short on gears.
Another way of saving an extra $300 is by replacing the power steering pump yourself. If you are handy and have done mechanical car repairs before, you can guide yourself using videos and how-to guides. You can also seek help from a friend who has knowledge of mechanical replacements and repairs.
However, if you are unsure of your skills as a mechanic, it is always wise to spend on the additional labor costs for professional help.
How Often Should You Replace the Power Steering Pump?
Given the value a working power steering pump has on the performance of a car’s engine, many have queries on the frequency of power steering pump replacement.
How often do you need to spend extra bucks to get a new power steering pump? The answer is, not so often.
Thanks to the sturdy build of vehicle components, they do not require replacements or repairs every now and then. For a power steering pump, it has the potential of covering over 100,000 miles without needed first-time replacements.
With a little care and regular maintenance work on the engine, the frequency can be even less. You may keep in mind that when your vehicle’s power steering pump fails, it may be part of a bigger engine issue.
How to Perform Power Steering Pump Replacement by Yourself: DIY
Executing the power steering pump replacement all by yourself is achievable with a little guidance and prior maintenance work knowledge. With the right parts and a little over 4 to 5 hours in hand, you could save up to $300 of mechanic Cost.
Before diving into the nuts and bolts of the craft, make sure you inspect the exact faulty line that is causing your power steering pump to act up.
Once you have spotted the issue, you may want to locate the pump, if you’ve never seen it once before. Surely, the pump will be located somewhere between the accessories and the front of the engine but the location could slightly vary depending on the type of engine your car has.
Here is a brief DIY step by step guide on how to replace a power steering pump:
At first, go shopping for all the required tools and parts that you would need.
Equipment You Would Need:
- New Power Steering Pump
- Power steering liquid
- Socket additions
- Grease or lubricant
- Draining pan surface
- Any wooden or metal straight component tool
- Extension bar
Depending on what needs to be taken out and which tools are required, you would need to spend some time removing the old power steering pump. Once it is removed, flush the pumping system and let renewed power steering fluid flow in.
Once you have drained the power steering pump, you will then need to take away the additional fittings like the battery, timing belt, and hose. Remember to disconnect the battery from the negative end, whist turning off the pressure connections as well.
Next, dismantle and remove the pulley and unscrew the bolts on the connecting lines. Make sure no additional accessory is connected to the pumping system to be replaced. Now you are ready to completely remove the entire power steering pump from the engine.
Now you may introduce the new power steering pump into the brackets and secure the system with bolts. Following that, remember to affix the hose back to its pump.
This step is a crucial one and you may want to implement some caution if it is your first time using a pully press. At first, you would have to attach the two parts of a pulley press using a screw. Once done, you would want to use the grease for the pulley as well as the hub and place the former over the hub.
Here, you would then have to tauten the through bolt of the pulley press into the hub. Once the pully is completely in position, you can take away the bolt and hub portion.
Out of all the steps, this is where most people trying to replace a power steering pump struggle. You have to align the pulley of the power steering pump system to the other parts.
Using the straight metal or wood tool, place the ends of the tool on the two pulley systems. Until the crankshaft and power steering pulleys are in alignment, you have to make adjustments using the straight tool.
This step requires patience and a little experience but once done, you may proceed to ascribe the system belts.
The last step is simple once the alignment is done. Here all you have to do is flush the power steering pump to flow in new fluid. Following that, you may want to finally attach the hose before filling fluid into the tank again.
For a better comprehension of the steps involved in power steering pump replacement, we suggest you have a quick sneak peek at this video.
Once you notice the signs of a defective steering arrangement, fixing the power steering pump is imperative. Other than continual noises and grunts to interrupt your smooth driving, it also becomes risky to be driving with a faulty pump assemble.
The timing belt may snap, hindering your car from advancing anywhere. You might get into setbacks too if your steering wheel takes too long to make that turn. Whether you plan a DIY power steering replacement or want to spend extra coins on some professional mechanic help is, without doubt, up to you.
Keeping replacement costs in mind is essential but it’s also vital to affix the power steering pump with accuracy, for another 100,000 miles at least.