Your power steering fluid is a small but essential part of your vehicle's normal operation, as it provides the pressure that allows your steering wheel to change the direction of your car with little effort on your part. Dirty fluid or a leak in the system can greatly increase the amount of force that you need to use to steer your vehicle, thus making a collision much more likely. Understanding the most common warning signs associated with dirty or inadequate power steering fluid can help make it possible for you to identify the problem early, before it becomes a serious safety risk.
The most obvious sign that there is something wrong with your power steering fluid is if you find that it takes much more effort than normal to turn the steering wheel. This will become more evident when travelling at high speeds, since the momentum of your vehicle will increase the amount of force needed to make turns. The best course of action is to have a professional, like those at Benchmark Motors INC, take a look at your power steering system. While low or dirty power steering fluid can cause this issue, the problem may lie with a damaged belt or the steering rack itself.
Another related but distinct symptom of low power steering fluid levels in your vehicle is if you find that your steering wheel jumps around when turning, especially if it jerks in the opposite direction that you are trying to turn. This is more serious than simply taking more effort to make a turn, since a jittery steering wheel can cause your vehicle to veer out of course if you aren't prepared for it, greatly increasing the risk of an accident.
Noises when Turning
Another clear sign that there is something wrong with your power steering system is if you find that your wheels make a squealing or grinding noise when you turn the wheel. This usually indicates that there is not enough power steering fluid in your system, leading to the system struggling to create enough force to move the wheels. While you can simply purchase and refill power steering fluid yourself to get rid of this problem, it is only a short-term solution. Low power steering fluid points to a leak somewhere, which will require a new hose or seal to be installed to prevent fluid from reaching low levels in the future.