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Q: Is it just my power steering belt that needs to be fixed, or is it a bigger issue?

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After getting off the interstate and coming to a stop sign, i turned my wheel and stopped. Almost immediately, smoke came up and through the air conditioning vents and steering became tight and needed elbow grease to turn. Sparks flew from the passenger side near the wheel of the car. All of sudden everything except for the hard steering stopped. I parked my car at work and noticed that a belt was broken in half. Would that just be considered the power steering belt that needed to be replaced or something else?

My car has 136000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

When a drive belt breaks, it is necessary to determine the cause. It is not uncommon for a belt to wear out due to age, but sometimes the belt will fail due to another issue. You will need to inspect the pulleys and accessories that the belt drives. For example, if the bearing in a tensioner were to fail, and the pulley on it locks up, then the friction of the belt across the locked up pulley will cause the belt to break. Also, if the steering got hard before the belt broke, it is quite possible that the power steering pump may have an issue. I would recommend having a certified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, take a look at the vehicle to determine if replacing the belt alone will fix the issue.

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