Power steering is a modern technique used by most car manufacturers to enhance handling and control of your car. It is a hydraulic system made of two hoses used to circulate the power steering fluid between the reservoir, steering pump and steering gear. Naturally, hydraulic systems are designed to be fluid tight to eliminate the need for a refill unless there is a leakage. Such leakages emanate from worn out hoses and valves, and they can lead to low power steering fluid levels. In case of a leakage, here are a few things you can look out for to detect low power steering fluid levels:
Noise When Steering
A noisy power steering is a clear indication that you are running low on hydraulic power steering fluid. It will be profound when you are driving slowly, like into a parking space, as the vehicle exerts more weight on the steering system in low gears. The noise indicates that the pistons in the hydraulic system are misfiring and hitting against other components in the system. This is because of the lack of sufficient hydraulic fluid, which is always in contact with the pistons.
Does your steering system screech or squeak every time you turn the steering wheel? Well, this is a clear sign that you are running low on steering fluid. The screeching is caused by friction between the different parts of the steering system, as they grind against each other in the absence of the hydraulic fluid.
Difficulty in Steering
The responsiveness of your power steering system is dependent on the presence of sufficient fluid circulating from the pump, through the hoses, and to the steering gear. Inadequate fluid means that the system doesn't have enough lubrication, making it difficult to move the steering wheel from one side to the other. Without a doubt, steering difficulties reduce the handling capabilities of your vehicle and elevate the risk of accidents resulting from the loss of vehicle control.
A jerky steering is another sign that you are running low on steering fluid. The steering will seem to vibrate and jerk as you turn at low speeds or after igniting the engine.
It is important to maintain the power steering fluid levels for optimal operation of the steering system. If you notice any of these signs, look out for small puddles of a reddish fluid under your bonnet to identify any leakages and have them rectified. The fluid may also appear greyish if it has undergone oxidation.