4 Common Power Steering System Problems and How to Fix Them

The power steering system is a critical component of your car’s overall performance. With power steering, you don’t have to strain yourself to adjust the angle and direction of your wheels—it’s all taken care of for you by a system that will make you feel like driving just got easier.

If something goes wrong with your power steering system, you may have difficulty maneuvering your car, even in a parking lot. If you’re having trouble with your power steering system, be sure to deal with it right away. Here are some of the most common problems associated with power steering systems and how to go about fixing them:

1. Low power steering fluid level

A low power steering fluid level can cause many issues. It can cause your engine to overheat, as well as other mechanical issues. The tank must be filled with enough fluid to give your vehicle an adequate amount of pressure.

You can check the fluid level by removing the cap from the reservoir (it’ll be labeled as such) and inspecting it. If your fluid level is low, you need to add more fluid and follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for adding the correct amount of fluid.

2. Contaminated fluid

The build-up of dirt and debris causes contaminated fluids in the system, which can cause a clogged or damaged pump. Contaminated fluid can give off the smell of burning plastic and create a strong steering noise. To fix the problem, flush the power steering system.

This involves removing the power steering pump and flushing all of its lines with fresh fluid. Flush all lines until all traces of contamination are gone, and no more bubbles emerge from the reservoir. After flushing, refill the power steering system with fresh fluid and replace it in your vehicle.

3. Power steering fluid leak

The most common sign of a power steering fluid leak is an overabundance of fluid on the ground underneath your car. Many things can cause this leak: a loose hose connection, a leaking hose itself, bad seals around either end of the hoses, or even an issue with one valve in your steering system.

So if you notice a leak, the first thing you should do is check all hoses and seals for any damage, tears, or cracks. If the leak appears to be coming from a hose or seal, you will probably need to replace it.

4. Power steering pump failure

The pump attaches to the engine block and moves fluid through an internal system that helps provide power assistance when turning the wheels. One reason for failure of a power steering pump is the deterioration of the pressure regulator valve—it gets stuck in place or otherwise cannot direct fluid properly, leading to a reduction or loss of power assist. If you’re experiencing a problem with your power steering pump, take your vehicle in for service as soon as possible before it becomes more serious and expensive to repair.


One reason problems with your power steering system are so dangerous is that it can lead to a total failure of the entire system. This can put you at risk of not being able to control your vehicle properly, and it can also threaten other drivers on the road. While an under-pressure power steering system may seem like a minor problem worth ignoring, this is something that should be addressed as quickly as possible.

Photo bywattanaphob from Getty Images via Canva Pro

Accessibility Toolbar