Types of Power Steering Problems

power steering problemsWhile never leaving you completely stranded, power steering problems can be extremely annoying at the very least and downright dangerous at their worst.  If you’ve ever had your engine drive belt snap while you were driving and have a sudden loss of power steering then you know exactly how terrifying this can be.  Also, if you’ve ever had a complete loss of power steering and tried back out of a tight parking space you know how nearly impossible it is to turn the wheel without the hydraulic assistance of your power steering system.

Power steering problems can happen for a variety of reasons so we’re going to talk through the most common ones to help you diagnose your problem and get your vehicle turning easily again.

Power Steering Problems

  • Loss of Fluid
  • Worn Pump
  • Air in the system
  • Clog in the system

Loss of Fluid

One of the most common problems power steering systems have is leaks.  The high pressure of the system combined with the soft hoses carrying the fluid makes it relatively susceptible to leaks.  A low fluid level can cause a whining power steering pump and even a loss of fluid pressure and a loss of steering assistance.  If you find a leak in the high or low-pressure hose, the best way to stop the leak is by simply replacing the hose. If you find a leak in the steering gear, rack or power steering pump, use BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak to seal the leak.  Then, top off the system with BlueDevil Synthetic Power Steering Fluid to get your system running like normal again.  BlueDevil Synthetic Power Steering Fluid can mix with any power steering fluid your system may have installed in it and will continue to condition the seals in your system to prevent future leaks.

Worn Pump

Like any other mechanical system, power steering pumps will wear out.  A worn power steering pump may hum or whine or may not make any noise at all.  Either way, it will have a low fluid pressure that will not give as much assistance as you try to turn your steering wheel.  Diagnosing low-pressure pumps is extremely difficult as there are usually no high-pressure ports in the system. In this case, the only option is to replace the pump.

Air in the system

Air in your power steering system will also reduce the pressure and the ability for your system to provide steering assistance.  If the system has the correct amount of fluid in it, air usually gets in due to leaks in the low-pressure line or the line from the reservoir to the pump in remote reservoir systems.  Replacing these lines and checking the connections for loose fittings or bad o-rings can help seal the system, remove the air and quiet down the system.

Clog in the system

Clogs are the most difficult power steering problems to diagnose.  Similar to checking for a low-pressure pump output, the lack of pressure ports in your power steering system makes it hard to find clogs if they exist in your system.  Clogs are usually due to worn components or dirty power steering fluid and can sometimes be removed by flushing the system.

After you’ve repaired your power steering system, consider refilling it with BlueDevil Power Steering Fluid to keep things working smoothly and quietly no matter what kind of car you drive.

You can find BlueDevil Synthetic Power Steering Fluid at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto Parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributor
  • DYK Automotive
  • Fisher Auto Parts stores
  • Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
  • Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
  • Salvo Auto Parts
  • Advantage Auto Stores
  • Genuine Auto Parts stores
  • Bond Auto Parts stores
  • Tidewater Fleet Supply
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
  • Any Part Auto Parts
  • Consumer Auto Parts

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43 responses to “Types of Power Steering Problems

  1. Hi
    I have a 1999 Caddy STS. I loose the power steering when I park the car. not at any other time.So far as I can tell there are no leaks.any sugestions?

  2. Hi
    I have a VW passat 2000.
    I lose the power steering when the car has started moving sort of like a small distance realy, what could be the cause.
    Ps. Recently replaced the pump and the rack..
    Please help

  3. My Chevrolet Cruze power steering works fine but after turning to one side it doesn’t return to normal position in one flow, i mean to say it pulsates while returning to normal position and also even a small bump on d road is felt through n steering moves!! Could you please help.

    1. Dr. Mari,

      Thanks for your question about your Chevy Cruze. Depending on whether your Cruze has hydraulic or electric power steering the problem could either be a problem with the power steering rack or with the electric motor that assists your steering. If you have electric power steering and there is a problem there would most likely be a check engine light or a power steering light on letting you know there is a problem. If your power steering rack is damaged you would likely be able to tell by checking your power steering fluid color to see if it is abnormally dark.

      Another possibility would be that the ball joints holding your steering knuckle on are so worn out that they are affecting the way the steering wheel feels when recentering so you may consider checking your front suspension components for damage.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  4. Nissan Altima 2015 SV
    There’s a constant whine in almost all the Nissan Altima 2015s that I have driven.
    What could be the reason. The Service Center says that this is a very common problem (which is just an inconvenience)

    1. Harish-

      Thank you for asking about your Nissan Altima. The most common reasons for the whining sound is air being trapped in the system and the fluid being too low, or having lost its properties. Obviously, in something as new as a 2015, you would not expect the fluid to be low or for the fluid to have lost its lubricating properties. The best place to start would be to drain the power steering system and refill with fresh, clean fluid. Also, ensure that all air bubbles are out.

      Hope this helps!


    1. Dennis-

      Was the vehicle driven after the transmission fluid was added? If not, you should be able to simply drain the power steering system and re-fill it with fresh, clean power steering fluid.

      Thank you!


  5. On June 3,2018 I was driving. my 2016 Toyota Sienna conversion van @70 mph on Florida Tpk when the stearing wheel seemed to have a mind of it’s own. I had no control and veered to the left hit/ing the center concrete barrier then turned right landing on the grass. The DVR showed something 3 seconds before the crash which Toyota completely ignored. They lifted the van & found the stearing wheel was moving freely. What could have failed to cause this crash ?

    1. Edith,

      Thanks for your question about your 2016 Toyota Sienna. The steering column runs for your steering down to the rack and pinion and has a few different joints including where it is connected to the steering wheel and the rack. Either of these connections or one of the universal joints could have failed or come disconnected. This is a relatively uncommon thing to happen on its own so it may have been related to a recent accident or maintenance.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  6. My 2003 Nissan Xterra whines and has stiff steering. The power steering fluid is not low and the problem is worse in the cold. Any ideas?

    1. Darian-

      Thank you for asking about your Nissan Xterra. A whining sound coming from the power steering system is usually attributed to air being trapped or the power steering fluid itself having lost its lubricating properties. Based on your description, we recommend draining the power steering fluid and refilling it with fresh, clean fluid.

      Thank you!


  7. Have a 09 Hyundai sante fe power steering fluid drains from reservoir while driving have no power steering then feels reservior back up after car is shut off is that the pump

    1. Ronald-

      Thank you for asking about your Hyundai Santa Fe. Are you experiencing any issues with the power steering? Does it seem hard to turn the wheel? Are you hearing a whining noise or noticing a loss of power steering fluid? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


  8. My 2009 Dodge Caravan is very stiff when turning the steering wheel, while pulling in and out of drive way until I excelerate. Once I excelerate the steering is normal.

    1. Janelle-

      Thank you for asking about your Dodge Caravan. Have you noticed any whining or grinding noises? Does the power steering fluid appear to be at the proper level? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


  9. Our 2008 Honda Odyssey van had a leak in the power steering fluid hose. The steering wheel was making a grinding noise and the fluid level was low. We had it checked, the hose and fluid were replaced. It has been a week since the repair and the steering wheel continues to make some whining noise when turning, but not as loud, and there is no resistance. The fluid level has stayed the same. Is there another reason the whining noise continues? Should we be concerned about a bigger problem?

    1. Colleen-

      Thank you for asking about your Honda Odyssey. Just to confirm, the original noise you were hearing was a grinding noise and then once the repair was performed, you are now hearing a whining noise? A whining noise can indicate something as simple as air being trapped in the system. Try running the vehicle with the power steering reservoir cap off and allow the fluid to burp itself out, and then top it off with your regular power steering fluid.

      Thank you!


  10. 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. Power Steering suddenly went out. There is a knocking noise (sounds like a belt but not 100% positive) and grinding when the wheel is turned. Fluid was full, car wasn’t running hot. What could be the cause?

    1. Roni-

      Thank you for asking about your Pontiac Grand Am. Based on your description and the noises you are hearing, it’s possible a wheel bearing has gone bad and/or the power steering pump is faulty and not pumping the fluid through correctly. If you haven’t done so already, you may be able to isolate which side the bad wheel bearing is on by turning the steering wheel back and forth with the car in park. That’s where the grinding noise would be coming from.

      Thank you!


  11. My 1998 chevy suburban
    My power steering went out still full of fluid is making no noise. What might the cause be.

    1. Jerry-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevy Suburban. Did the power steering completely go out or is it intermittent? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


    1. Joe-

      Thank you for asking about your Pontiac G6. Poor alignment, bent rims or the tires being out of balance could cause the steering wheel to pull to one side on its own. We recommend bringing the vehicle in for an alignment check and tire rotation.

      Thank you!


  12. My 2010 Ford flex has no power steering when I turn right but works normally when I turn left any ideas?

    1. Danny-

      Thank you for asking about your Ford Flex. The problem you’re describing could be attributed to a few different issues. First, we recommend checking the power steering fluid level to make sure it is not low. If it is low, that would mean you are leaking power steering fluid. We recommend using the BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak to help stop the loss of fluid and return to normal functionality.
      If you are not noticing a loss of power steering fluid, another possibility is that a valve in the rack is clogged and not allowing fluid to go to that particular side. If this is the case, unfortunately, the only remedy would be to replace the rack.

      Thank you!


  13. M’y newmar motorhome , Chevy 454, 1993, reject the Power steering liquid by overflow José, so, i had no power steering ans no power break, we can’t find the trouble

    1. Serge-

      Was the system low on power steering fluid? If so, you may be experiencing a power steering fluid leak. We recommend using the BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak. You would begin by adding 1/3 of the bottle into your power steering reservoir, and should expect to start seeing improvement after 100-200 miles of driving. If you are not low on fluid, the issue could be with the power steering pump.

      Hope this helps!


  14. I have built a hot rod. Has the 1993 small block Chevy motor and a Chevy S10 gearbox. I have replaced the pump with rebuilt pumps and a new one. I am on my 2nd steering Box and 2nd set of lines. Has spent several hours working the air out each time. I still do not have power steering? I have worked on my vehicles my whole life, I am 67, I am unable define the problem. Also have a couple of mechanics look at it. Any suggestions would be helpful, Thanks

    1. George,

      Thanks for your question about your hot rod. It sounds like you’ve already replaced everything in your power steering system so it is a little confusing as to why you still don’t have any power assist. When the motor is running can you see the fluid moving through the reservoir if you pull the cap off? If you’ve got fluid moving through the system the only thing we can think of is there is some sort of safety or electronic bypass keeping the moving fluid from assisting the steering. Maybe a sensor or a vacuum line needs to be connected from the vehicle the system came out of to get things to work correctly.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  15. Replaced the steering box, rebuilt the pump , but have no power assist. 1972 el camino 350 . What could be the problem?

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for your question about your 1972 El Camino. The only thing you haven’t replaced is your power steering lines so it’s possible one of them has collapsed internally causing the lack of power assist. Try removing the cap from the power steering fluid reservoir while the engine is idling. If you can see fluid running through the reservoir and it isn’t full of air and bubbles our guess would be you got a steering box. If you don’t have any fluid flow check for a clog or look into your pump.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  16. My 2009 Kia Spectra has intermittent problems when turning at low speed. The pump rotation stops for one or two seconds and the belt squeals then the pump rotates for a few seconds and then the process repeats itself until the steering wheel is turned back to neutral . This occurs when the car is still or or moving and continues as long as the steering wheel is turned. . The belt is tight and the pump was replaced less than a year ago. I can see the belt stop at low engine speed but obviously am not sure what happens when driving at a higher speed and I can’t hear any belt noise.This happens when turning the wheel in any direction. With both wheels off the ground I can easily move the wheels through the entire range in both directions by holding a tire and don’t feel anything unusual.

    1. Make sure the alternator belt is tight. The power steering belt can run off of the alternator belt pulley on some models. If this doesn’t help, the hoses may need replacing (they can collapse internally). I would also flush the system out.


  17. A 2000 Toyota Corolla. The steering makes a continuous “chichichi” noise when steered full to either side. And there is also some resistive noise along the steering movement. What could the problem possibly be?

  18. I have a1990 Toyota 4×4 pickup, I recently installed a 3” body lift and since then the steering turns almost by itself. It will turn lock to lock by just easily turning the steering wheel. I have installed new pump, gear box and pressure hose. Any idea what could cause the problem?

    1. CES-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota 4×4. Because you installed a body lift, it sounds as though the caster, camber & toe alignment would need to be readjusted. The addition of a steering damper might also help, as this would help keep everything in place.

      Thank you!


  19. I have an 2000 Acura TL. My power steering started becoming harder to turn. I check and PS fluid was low. I refilled and bled. Rechecked and PS cup was empty. There wasn’t any fluid on the ground. Added more, same result. Car runs fine for a few days, then acts up again.

    1. Gbee-

      Thank you for asking about your Acura TL. Based on your description, it sounds as though you are experiencing a power steering fluid leak. We recommend using the BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak in this instance. You will start off by adding 1/3 of the bottle into your power steering reservoir. Top the system off with power steering fluid as needed. You should expect to start seeing results after 100-200 miles of driving.

      Thank you!


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