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How Power Steering Works and Why You May Be Losing Fluid

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  1. step : Diagnosing Power Steering Leaks (1:35)
    • Identify the location of the leak
    • Check the area under the power steering pump for leaks
    • Check the area under the power steering rack or box for leaks
  2. step : Diagnosing Sudden Power Steering Loss (2:29)
    • If you lose power steering suddenly, check the condition of the belt
  3. step : Diagnosing Other Power Steering Problems (2:42)
    • If you hear clicking or clunking when you turn the steering wheel check the condition of the tie rods

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I'm going to be talking to you about power steering, today. In particular, we're going to talk about hydraulic power steering systems. Conventionally, for many, many years, hydraulic was the way to go. On newer vehicles, they're starting to go to electric power steering systems. Today, we're just going to be talking about hydraulic systems.

There are two major components of hydraulic power steering. First is the power steering pump. Then the second component is the power steer rack or steering gear. Two things can happen to make yourself lose fluid. That's what we're going to talk about today. When I lose power steering fluid, what can be going on?

The first thing we're going to look at is the pump. The pump is just what it says. There's a reservoir that feeds fluid into it, whether the reservoir's attached to the pump or it's remote, such as on this vehicle. It goes in. This is the non-pressure side. Then there's the pressure side where it comes out, and feeds pressure to the rack or the steering box. What can happen is there's O-rings that seal this pressure side. Those O-rings can go bad. You can get a leak from here. Then, the front of this pump is sealed. Again, this is about this pump specifically, but in general, pumps are the same way. There's a seal here, and what can happen is that seal can leak, and you can start getting dripping from the front of the pump. Basically, if you're losing fluid, the first thing you want to do is identify where it's coming from. Does the puddle collect under where the power steering pump is, or does it collect from one of the ends of the rack or from somewhere on the power steering box?

Installed in the car, here's our pump, and here's our reservoir. You would put your power steering fluid in there. Driven by the engine, by a belt, it supplies pressure through this line back to the rack, in this vehicle. Then there's a return line on the other side of the pump that comes back into the reservoir.

As I move the steering wheel back and forth, you can see the motion of the rack. Here's my pressure line coming down and feeding my steering rack, down here, which then moves the steering gear back and forth. If you, all the sudden, lose power steering and your vehicle gets hard to steer, then most likely, your belt has either broken or come off, and needs to be serviced.

If, when you turn your wheel quickly, you hear a little clunking noise along with the moving your steering wheel, and you feel a little click in the steering wheel, a lot of times, that can be your tie rod, which is right here, a connection to the steering knuckle. A clicking or a clunking when you're doing this to the steering wheel can indicate that those are in bad shape.

Thanks for tuning in. We hope this video helps you out. Brought to you by www.1AAuto.com, your source for quality replacement parts and the best service on the Internet. Please feel free to call us toll-free, 888-844-3393. We're the company that's here for you on the Internet and in person.

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