Diagnostics of malfunctions of hydraulic power steering and ways of its elimination
There are many factors to the signs of malfunction of power steering. Among them, I will try to identify the most important, which are often encountered. There are two criteria, according to which malfunctions can be divided: malfunctions of the pump and CPS gearbox.
Let us begin with external problems. If the steering wheel is held and you can feel a jolt, it means that the drive belt is loose. If you have to use force to turn right or left, I suggest to pay attention to the drive belt and check the fuel tank (fluid level and dirt). The reason may be that the engine idle speed is low. If you’ve recently changed the CPS, check to see if you’ve bled the system. Coming back to a situation with turns, when it is difficult to turn a rudder in one side, it is necessary to look at the oil pump. Probably, a malfunction is hiding there. Vibration can be felt when the tires are in bad condition. If it is difficult or quite easy to turn the steering wheel – it is necessary to check the electronic equipment and speedometer. Do not forget about the level of working fluid in the tank – if it is not enough, the steering system may stop working. If a pump pulley in a car unscrews without excessive force, then the cause of the malfunction is a defect in the shafts, on which the pulley is incorrectly placed. I, for example, heard a whistling sound – this indicated that the steering wheel joints were loose. It is possible that the power steering hoses are not fully in contact with other components in the system. If you hear noise in the steering wheel, then this is a very bad sign because the steering linkage tubes are not securely attached to the body, or the steering linkage tips are not properly placed and the attachment itself is loose. When you feel the laborious return of the wheels to a smooth forward (after) turns when driving, then the cause is not a tight fit of the steering wheel with the turn signal switch, inaccurate alignment of the flow control valve, loosened steering rods and ball joints. When the steering wheel turns, it indicates that the power steering is functioning with insufficient pressure in the pump, or its flow control valve is jammed. When it’s impossible to steer, and I had such a case, I checked the steering system for a choke, then the wheels for wear or damaged bearings. But as it turned out, the problem was hiding in loose steering rods and ball joints. If it is difficult to park the car (driver inability is not considered here), the cause may be in the dysfunction of the CPS pump flow control valve or insufficient pump pressure. Remedy and tips for operation
So, when we found out why the power steering does not work, you can proceed to repair and troubleshooting. You will have to work on it yourself, if the dysfunction is minor, and if not, it is better to apply for help to the professionals at the car service.
What can you do yourself? Adjust or replace the drive belt, refill the operating fluid or replace the entire filter if it is dirty and not enough. A few words about the fluid – do not change it often. If you do it, you should drain the previous oil and add the new one. You have to be careful about the system getting too much air in it.
Since I have often had fluid leaks, the principle is slightly different in such a situation. Oil leaks through the bearings, shafts, so it is important to inspect the entire hydraulic control system regularly to detect leaks from fittings, pipelines in time.
The hydraulic booster can be repaired or replaced at a car service center. Concerning the repair of the steering booster pump, it is considered in the first place of the power steering malfunction, then it must be removed and disassembled, then thoroughly cleaned from dirt and look through all the parts. There may be a step on the inner wall of the housing, you can get rid of it with a drill bit.￼
If the bearing is worn or the gland is obsolete, you need to replace it. How do you fix a new bearing back on? I’m sharing my experience: I make a turning hole at the lathe on the outside, then drill holes in the pump wall, put the bearing in it and bolt it back on, through the holes and saw them off.
Most of the moments are reduced to the change of parts, if everything is done correctly, the hydraulic booster will work in the future, and will please with its serviceability in quality and easy turns and driving of the car.￼
Let’s move on to operating tips so that the power steering will last a long time and you won’t even wonder about its whereabouts. The first thing I advise you to pay attention to is regular comparison of steering effort while turning with the engine turned off. If a difference is felt, then all is well.
You should always keep an eye on the service fluid level, keep it off the minimum mark, and inspect the lines and joints to prevent oil leakage through the bearings.
The second is to check the drive belt tension, if it is too tight then the pump will soon have to be repaired, if it is loose then it will wear out quickly. Once a year I recommend to change the filter, do not keep the steering wheel in extreme position for more than a minute, because in this case the oil can boil.￼ Thirdly, I urge you not to drive the car with non-functioning power steering, then you can completely destroy the steering system. And, of course, at the first signs of dysfunction call the service station for help.
What to do, if the power steering system is losing oil
The majority of modern cars are equipped by manufacturers with a system for facilitating steering – the so-called power steering system (PSS). This unit significantly reduces the effort required by the driver to perform a steering maneuver.
The roadway is characterized by the presence of various potholes and bumps. The steering unit is designed to effectively dampen the shocks and vibrations arising from this. It also directly affects the directional stability of the vehicle, and it feels more confident on the road. The appearance of hum or other extraneous noises in the area of steering indicates that the power steering or any of its components began to lose lubrication. Untimely elimination of this malfunction will lead to expensive repairs later.
Causes of loss of oil in the power steering system
Before you think about how to solve the problem with grease leakage, you need to understand what causes it. This will determine the repair work to eliminate the loss of oil from the power steering. Experts count 3 main reasons:
- Leaking steering rack.
- Leaking power steering pump.
- Bad tightness of pipes and hoses connections.
Constant squeezing of oil from the hydraulic power steering tank leads to a decrease in its level, up to a critical mark. Before performing an inspection, find the cistern and see at what level is the working fluid in it. It is of a special type and resembles the same grease that is poured into automatic transmissions. The oil itself also loses its properties during exploitation – it is burned out and polluted, not to mention possible leaks. Experienced automobile mechanics recommend total replacement after every 70-100 thousand km covered by the car.
To get to know the lubricant properties, you may take some drops with a usual syringe. They are poured onto a clean sheet of paper. If the oil has a characteristic dark color (black or rich brown), then it is time to replace it. Similarly, it is recommended to pay attention to its smell – it is unacceptable if it will resemble the smell of burnt oil.
Steering rack leakage
One of the most common malfunctions, which the owners of cars equipped with a steering rack have to deal with. Usually the following symptoms indicate a leak in the steering rack:
- The appearance of noticeable play in the steering wheel when driving the vehicle;
- The occurrence of a knocking of the steering nut while driving – usually can be heard clearly through the steering wheel;
- difficulty turning the steering wheel, which requires more and more effort to turn it;
- The appearance of extraneous noises in the power steering pump.
If any of the symptoms listed here are confirmed, then there is a very high probability of a problem with a leaky steering rack, and you should start with an inspection of this very unit.
Leak in the steering linkage pump
The problem of grease leakage often starts at the power steering pump. This is due to the fact that this unit is under the influence of significant loads. Over time, this leads to a breach of tightness of the node itself or its connections, components. First of all, you should pay attention to the presence of visible damage to the lines and hoses through which the oil circulates in the node itself.
If visual damage is detected, such hoses should be replaced if repair is impossible. As for the pump itself, it is not superfluous to disassemble it and replace the oil seals with new ones. In most cases, this is enough to fix the problem. Problems with a leak in the pump are indicated by an increase in the effort required to turn the steering wheel. Before reassembling and reinstalling all components of this mechanism, it is recommended to wipe with white spirit.
Leaky hoses and tubes
This cause is one of the most common, but it is also the easiest to fix. And repair work in this case is not too expensive. First you must check all connections, seals, tubes and pipes for strength and tightness. The places that raise doubts should be disassembled and re-tightened. Such operations are quite feasible to perform on their own, in garage conditions and save on repair costs.
How to fix the problem
Problems with oil leakage in the steering rack should be solved according to the reason that caused them. If the steering rack is defective, its technical inspection is carried out. Do not immediately replace it with a new unit with the help of repair kits, many service stations restore its performance.
The most expensive in terms of costs may be the breakdown of the steering linkage pump. Most often it will be necessary to replace the seals, but it may also be a breakage of the impeller or bearing failure. The main sign of pump failure is a stiff steering feel or an unusual hum. If you do not have enough experience in diagnosing pump failure, it is better to entrust this procedure to a professional car mechanic.
Oil leakage in the places of connections, passing of lines is accompanied by replacement of the most worn out sections. After that, all the suspicious areas are tightened again, after which observations on the appearance of leaks on a cold and hot engine are repeatedly made.
To avoid having to deal with a power steering leak, experienced motorists give the following operating recommendations:
- Check the fluid level in the unit regularly;
- when parking for a long time, the wheels should be aligned, and it is especially important in the winter period of the year;
- in order not to damage the pump it is not recommended to leave the steering wheel in extreme positions for longer than 10 seconds;
- Periodically inspect the condition of the steering tips, the degree of wear of the dusters, as well as the rack itself. Replacement of each of these components will be cheaper than the purchase of a new steering rack or amplifier.
As soon as there are suspicions concerning the malfunctions of the steering rack, you should not delay with the repair. If necessary, it is entrusted to the specialized service stations.