Power steering fluid is an extremely important component in your vehicle, and leaks can cause a range of problems that can endanger you on the road. If you’ve noticed that telltale reddish-pink liquid leaking from your truck, you’re probably wondering what’s causing it and what you can do about it.
Power steering leaks are often as a result of wear and tear on the system as a whole. A faulty O-ring, valve, seal, pump, or hose can all cause leaks in the pressurized system to have noticeable effects on your power steering.
There’s a lot of problems that can arise with this system, but at least the issues are often quite easy to diagnose, and replacements aren’t as expensive when compared to other major parts in your car. In this article, we’ll discuss why your truck is leaking fluid and what to do.
How Does Power Steering Fluid Work?
Power steering fluid is an important part of your system, which allows you to steer your vehicle more easily using an electric or hydraulic system connects the steering to the wheels.
The power steering liquid is a highly specialized viscous fluid with a certain amount of additives and detergents that pressurized and lubricates the entire system.
Working properly, the fluid in the power steering system is pressurized by the pump and helps to turn the wheels by pushing pistons mounted to the rack. Naturally, a leak at any point in this system is very detrimental, depressurizing the chamber and creating increased difficulty in steering.
What Causes Power Steering Fluid Leaks?
Power steering fluid leaks can be caused by a number of factors, but one of them stands out above the rest: age. If your truck has a high mileage, it’s quite likely that some of the O-rings and seals preventing the fluid from escaping have begun to wear away, allowing a leak. A warning sign of a steering system issue can be a squeaking sounds from the engine area when turning.
The seals may also decompose in such a way that they circulate in the fluid, causing blockages and decreased pressure.
Of course, damage to your power steering system can also arise as a direct result of an accident, wherein the hoses, valve, pump, or O-rings are bent or broken, causing leaks.
It’s also worth investigating the possibility of impure or contaminated power steering fluid. Every now and then, the fluid needs to be flushed and replaced so that it doesn’t damage the components.
If the fluid isn’t replaced as suggested by the manufacturer, you run the risk of damaging your pump, which can cost a pretty penny to replace.
How Do You Fix a Leak?
Fixing leaks as soon as you spot them is very important; the issue will not resolve itself, and the longer you wait, the more you risk damage to the pump and even to the other systems in your car.
Remember, one of the purposes of power steering fluid is to lubricate the components of the power steering system, and improperly lubricated, the components will grate against one another and create excess heat via friction, which is an issue you definitely don’t want in your car.
To get started figuring out the source of the leak, check the reservoir, located in the hood of your car. You can identify it by the labels “power steering” or “steering fluid” on the top. If the levels in the reservoir are low or if you notice foaming, you’ve got an issue located somewhere along your power steering system.
Examine all of the hoses connected to the power steering fluid reservoir to check for any noticeable leaks. In some trucks, you might have the opportunity to reach the pump itself to check for a buildup of liquid on the outside, which would indicate a problem with the hoses attached to the pump.
The next step is to inspect the underside your car, especially if there’s a noticeable smelly puddle of reddish-pink fluid on the ground. Examine the hoses above the puddle on the ground to check for obvious leaks, corrosion, or loose connections that may be causing the viscous liquid to leak.
As a short-term fix, it’s possible to install a power steering stop leak to fix a leak, although a stop leak doesn’t actually fix the root cause of the issue, and you will need to replace the faulty part eventually.
Your best bet upon finding something amiss is to tighten up any loose nuts and replace any defective components. Over time, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your seals, O-rings, and hoses will need replacement, so be sure to replace them as you have need.
If you’re a little unsure about replacing these parts yourself, then you can get in touch with your local trusted auto shop to conduct the repairs for you. Power steering fluid leaks don’t usually take longer than a few hours if the problem is minor. The cost of the repair can vary from amount of work – a simple repair to a major system replacement.
Longer repair times might be necessary if the pump needs repair or replacement. Additionally, if the damage is irreparable, then you might need to have it replaced entirely.
Can You Keep Driving with a Faulty Power Steering System?
A leak in your power steering fluid is a serious issue and should be addressed quickly. Driving with a faulty system is ill-advised, since you will find it much more difficult to turn, and your handling will be severely affected. The only driving you should be doing with a leaky power steering system is straight to the auto shop.
Power steering leaks are often concerning, but it’s an issue you will probably have to deal with at some point in your truck’s lifespan.
Over time, the O-rings, seals, and hoses begin to break down, causing the system to leak. Thankfully, these issues are not only pretty straightforward to spot, but they’re not all that expensive to fix either, at least not compared to regular repairs for other system in your car.
If you suspect you’ve got a power steering fluid leak, take it to your trusted mechanic right away.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.