In most modern cars, power steering helps the driver turn the steering wheel and control the front wheels more easily. A failure by the power steering unit is sometimes indicated by a squealing noise made when the driver turns the steering wheel. The squealing noise could be coming from the power steering pump or from the belt that powers the power steering from the engine.
How this system works:
Power steering makes the job of controlling the wheels easier by using either hydraulic or electric actuators. On hydraulic systems, a belt connected to the engine powers a hydraulic pump. As the driver turns the steering wheel the pump sends fluid to a cylinder which assists the driver turn the wheel. Electronic systems, which are becoming more common in new vehicles, use small electric motors to help turn the wheels. When your power steering fails, it can be very difficult to manipulate the steering wheel, especially at low speeds.
Common reasons for this to happen:
Low Power Steering Fluid: If you hear a squealing noise while turning the steering wheel, it may be an indication that the power steering fluid is low. Fluid may become low because of a leak. You can check under the engine for leaks by looking for red or pink liquid, the typical color of most power steering fluids.
Worn Out Belt: Power steering may be affected by a worn belt, causing a squealing noise when the steering wheel is turned. When a belt becomes worn, it can slip, affecting the fluid pressure created by the power steering pump. If the belt snaps completely, the power steering pump will fail to operate, making the steering very heavy.
Failing Power Steering Pump: If the power steering pump begins to fail you may notice some squealing when turning the wheel. When seals and other parts of the power steering pump begin to wear down, the pump cannot maintain a consistent level of fluid pressure. Worn out pumps will eventually fail over time, causing the power steering to stop working altogether and making the steering very heavy.
What to expect:
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to determine the cause of the squeaking noise and determine which power steering component has failed or is failing. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report outlining the nature of the component and the cost of any necessary repairs.
How it's done:
A mechanic will inspect your vehicle by opening the hood and inspecting the engine bay for signs of failure to the power steering pump or belt. He or she will start by checking the level of the power steering fluid. If it is low, the mechanic will refill it. The mechanic will also be checking for leaks, making sure that consistent pressure is maintained throughout the power steering system. If the belt is worn or broken, the mechanic will install a new one and make sure it works well with the existing power steering pump. If the pump has failed, the mechanic will replace whichever component has failed, but may need to replace it entirely. Before leaving, the mechanic will test the steering to make that the fluid pressure is consistent and that the wheel is easy to turn.
How important is this service?
A complete power steering failure while driving can be very dangerous and unexpected for even the most experienced drivers. Being diligent can save you the trouble and potential danger of a complete power steering failure. When power steering components are about to fail, they typically warn drivers with unusual noises like a squeak when the wheel is turned. If you notice a squeak when turning the steering wheel, you should have a mechanic inspect you power steering components.