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The power steering pump is a belt-driven or electric-driven hydraulic pump that generates the hydraulic pressure needed to provide power steering assist. It develops output pressures of 1,000 PSI or more. The pump output is directed to the steering gear, often a rack and pinion type unit, where the hydraulic pressure pushes on the steering rack, greatly reducing the effort it would otherwise take to turn the steering wheel.
No. If the power steering pump is operated without an adequate amount of fluid, and the pump reservoir will not hold fluid due to a large leak. The pump could seize, which would snap the serpentine belt and likely leave you stranded. If the pump turns and there is adequate fluid, but there is no power assist, it will require much greater effort to turn the steering wheel, and that presents inherent safety risks. Generally, the wisest course is to seek immediate repairs if you suspect a problem with any component in your car’s power steering system.