Q: Power steering and overheating

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We woke up Easter morning and noticed that it was hard to turn the steering wheel and when we got to the church, I noticed a funny smell and that he(my husband) was leaking fluid. When we took it home wasn't any issues, until we parked it. It leaked again. Then this morning, he was going to work and noticed that it was hard to turn the steering wheel and that he was running hot. He noticed when he got home from work that the radiator still has fluid. He also has had a check engine light on for a while now but he knows about that. It is because of the throttle thing. So what could be the issue?

My car has 250000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi There, This may be related to a failing power steering pump or low power steering fluid levels. As you may know, the power steering system uses a pump, normally driven by a belt. The pump supplies pressure as it is turned by your engine, and driver control is supplied by either the rack and pinion or a steering gear box. Fluid pressure from the pump is used to push against a piston. When the wheel is turned, pressure flows to one side and this piston moves. The piston is attached to the steering gears. As the hydraulic pressure does the work, the driver controls the direction by turning the steering wheel. The operation of this is accomplished with a very sensitive valve system called a rack and pinion. When the pump is beginning to fail or is low on fluid, you may hear this type of whining sound.

Overheating can be caused by a number of things such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, a clogged radiator or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning on and off at specific temperature thresholds. When this switch is not working properly, this can cause the fans to come on intermittently, all the time or sometimes not at all. When this happens you will notice a temperature spike and drop occasionally as the fan comes on and off. When your thermostat is not working properly or is stuck closed, this will not allow the coolant to properly circulate through the engine, which may cause the engine temperature to fluctuate erratically or in some cases just remain hot. You may also have a water pump that is beginning to fail. Water pumps often times will begin to produce a bit of a whining sound when they are starting to fail. A common problem also associated with this is the water pump may begin to leak around the water pump shaft due to the seal being damaged. In addition to leaking around the pump, you may have a leak elsewhere in the cooling system coming from one of the hoses going to or from the radiator. Lastly, you may have a failing cylinder head gasket allowing coolant to leak from the water passages into the cylinders resulting in the coolant being burnt in the combustion chamber with the fuel. If this is the case, you may also notice a bit of white smoke coming from your exhaust which is a product of the coolant being turned into a steam like vapor. I would suggest having an expert from Your Mechanic come to your home to diagnose your cooling system.

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