Q: After a car wash my "steering failure" light came on.

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Twice I have gone to an automatic carwash and upon leaving, I have steering, but the dash says "power steering failure, pull over safely." The first time I took it to the Volvo dealership and of course they told me a gasket needed to be replaced to the tune of $400. They also said I needed new tires and brakes, but I didn't. But why is this light coming on? Obviously I will not take it to an automatic carwash again, but what the heck is wrong with it?

My car has 68000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

If you have electric power steering, the cause is likely to be water infiltrating electrical components or terminals. If the power steering pump is belt driven, water (and worse, soapy water) may have gotten on the drive belt causing the belt to slip and cause output pressure to fall. If the belt is worn or not properly tensioned, that could be a contributing factor as well. What you are describing should not normally occur and so you may want to schedule a power steering system inspection particularly if the warning light is still on. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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