Blog Car Care Advice Can You Drive Without Power Steering + How to Fix It?
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Can You Drive Without Power Steering + How to Fix It?

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Power steering improves control and responsiveness, making your drive smoother.

But can you drive without power steering?

Worry not!
We’ll address your concerns, plus explore signs of bad power steering and tips to fix it.

Let’s go.

This Article Contains: 

Can You Drive Without Power Steering?

Yes, it’s possible to drive without power steering. 

However, power steering failure in an electric or hydraulic power steering system can make normal steering challenging and risky. Driving through traffic, making low-speed turns, and parking may require more steering effort. 

Most importantly, bad power steering or power assist makes it harder to react quickly in emergencies, leading to accidents. And if left unresolved, important steering parts can wear out, leading to expensive repairs. For example, the power steering pump (PS pump) works harder to generate enough pressure when there’s low power steering fluid. This increases tension and friction on the serpentine belt, damaging it and leading to a host of other issues. 

But what do you do if your power steering suddenly fails?
Go slow, keep a strong grip on the wheel, and get to a mechanic or call a mobile one for help.

Now, some vehicles will trigger the service power steering dashboard light when there’s an issue. Still, let’s explore other signs that indicate power steering issues.

5 Clear Signs of Power Steering Problems

The tell-tale symptoms of a power steering problem include:

1. Delayed or Unresponsive Steering

With a faulty power steering system, you may notice a delay before your vehicle responds and changes direction. While it may seem like a small glitch, it may impact your ability to navigate and control the vehicle smoothly.

2. Difficulty Turning the Wheel

If you’re dealing with a power steering failure or a broken steering pump, you’ll find it harder to turn the steering wheel. This can increase steering effort and reduce your control over the vehicle.

3. Strange Noises When Turning

Any whining or squealing noises under the hood can indicate power steering pump failure and a worn power steering belt. The sound is due to low fluid levels and the subsequent lack of lubrication. 

4. Power Steering Fluid Leak

A reddish or brownish puddle under your car could indicate a power steering fluid leak. 

Driving with low fluid in the power steering reservoir can impact steering performance and damage the steering pump. 

Note: Power steering fluid is different from transmission fluid. Power steering fluid assists in the movement of the steering mechanism, making it easier for the driver to turn the wheels. Transmission fluid lubricates and cools transmission components to facilitate smooth gear shifts. 

5. Vibrations in the Steering Wheel

The steering wheel may vibrate, shake, or feel wobbly due to a broken power steering pump.
However, it may also be due to a worn steering rack, bad tires, tie rods, or wheel alignment.

Now, let’s shift gears and explore hands-on methods to remedy these issues.

How to Fix Power Steering Problems

If you’re unsure how to fix electric or hydraulic power steering system problems, it’s best to ask a professional for help. 

Here’s what a mechanic would do:

  1. Check the power steering fluid level and add or change it If it’s low or contaminated. 
  1. Look for signs of a leak. If they see a leak, they’ll replace the damaged steering component causing the power steering leak.
  1. Next, they’ll inspect the power steering reservoir for air bubbles caused by faulty seals or low fluid levels. If there are bubbles, they’ll flush the power steering system and add new fluid.
  1. Locate the drive belt and see if it’s loose or damaged. They’ll tighten or replace it as needed.
  1. Connect a pressure gauge to the power steering pump, start the car, and watch the gauge while turning the steering wheel. They’ll replace the broken power steering pump if the pressure is low or fluctuates significantly.
  1. Scan for any error codes in cars with electric power steering (EPS). 
  1. Check for damaged connections in the electric power steering system, including those hooked to the electric motor, sensors, and control unit.
  1. Use a diagnostic tool to ensure the steering angle sensors, electric motor, and control unit work fine.

Next, let’s explore how much power steering repairs could cost you.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Power Steering?

Power steering service costs vary based on the damaged steering component, the vehicle’s make and model, and labor charges. 

Here are estimates for part replacement costs (including labor charges):

Got more questions about power steering? 
Let’s answer them.

4 FAQs about Power Steering

Here are common power steering-related questions and their answers: 

1. How Does the Power Steering System Work?

The two main types of power assist systems include:

  1. Hydraulic power steering: As the engine runs, the pump pressurizes hydraulic fluid. The fluid travels through hoses to the steering gear or power steering rack (PS rack). Within the steering gear or power steering rack is a hydraulic system connected to the steering mechanism that moves the wheels based on the driver’s input. 
  1. Electric power steering: Instead of using hydraulic pressure, the electric power steering system relies on an electric motor and sensors, usually located near the steering column. The sensors detect the driver’s steering input and the vehicle’s speed. The control unit provides steering assistance based on the sensor information.

2. What Causes Power Steering Problems?

A power steering problem can arise from issues like:

  1. Low power steering fluid levels
  2. Fluid leak
  3. Damaged belts
  4. Bad power steering pump
  5. Sensor issues or electrical malfunctions in the power steering system

3. Is it Illegal to Drive Without Power Steering?

Driving without power steering is not against the rules in most situations. Many older cars with manual steering are still allowed on the road. 

However, if you get into an accident, you could face legal consequences due to negligence. Also, your insurance might not cover damages from driving without power steering.

Check with your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) since rules can differ by state. Plus, some regions have specific requirements for essential vehicle systems.

4. How Do I Keep the Power Steering in Good Shape?

Follow these tips to avoid power steering issues:

Safeguard Your Steering with AutoNation Mobile Service

Your car’s power steering system is vital for a safe and enjoyable drive. But it needs regular care to work well.

You could change the steering fluid yourself. However, it’s best to get help from professionals like AutoNation Mobile Service for complicated issues like a power steering leak or PS pump failure. 

We offer mobile auto repair and maintenance services with a 12-month, 12,000-mile repair warranty.
Contact us today to get power steering service and any other fixes completed right from your driveway!