Servicing Tips - Steering
Power Steering Service
Most New Zealand drivers are too young to remember life before power steering - cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let's look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine (a lot of new vehicles are now moving to electrically powered steering systems). A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.
These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea for drivers to have them inspected at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why the Power Steer fluid level is on the checklist for a Full Service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners' manual for the right type - or just ask your friendly and knowledgeable technicians at Oil Changers.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so drivers need to replace it from time to time. Many vehicle manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us. So, when in doubt, every 50,000 km is a good fallback. Your Oil Changers technician will flush out your old contaminated fluid and refill it to the correct level with the fluid meeting your manufacturers specifications.
Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It's harder to turn the wheel, there's erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump real fast.
Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel and an annual wheel alignment check will reveal bent or damaged steering components.
PO Box 16686 Hornby
New Zealand 8441