Your car is your life. Every day greets you with a rising sun and a looming 9 to 5 (sometimes longer) – after proceeding through a subconscious checklist, you make it to your car. It’s always there, always ready to take you where you need to go and when things go awry, it can be a hit to your independence on top of your wallet.
You’ve had your suspicions about your power steering lately, it hasn’t been as responsive and you’ve had to try harder, almost if you were back in a 1980s Falcon trying to round a tight corner. Are you being paranoid? After you book an appointment with the Gearbox and Diff Shop, do some quick home diagnosis.
Squealing and whining emitting from your steering wheel is generally a bad sign – we aren’t talking about the weird sounds that may occur shortly after starting your car, but a consistent sound from when you turn the car on and every time you use the steering wheel. There could be a couple of things wrong here, the most common being a lack of fluid in the steering wheel pump or a serious fault with the general construction.
You instinctively know how much pressure is required to get the best out of your power steering; if the wheel feels stiff or halting in your hands, it could mean the whole alignment needs to be corrected. There are a range of issues that can lead to a stiff steering wheel, so while a faulty alignment sounds simple enough, don’t dismiss other culprits until an experienced power steering specialist has assessed and delivered the results.
If your drive belt is busted, there’s not much else you can do but replace it. A broken belt will make itself known by intense vibrations while the car is in traffic or driving along – this symptom doesn’t appear in all cases, but it’s an instant tip if it does happen to you. Following repairs or replacement, it’s always a good idea to give your car a once over on a monthly basis, including drive belt tension and overall condition.
Check Fluid Levels
It should come as no surprise your car is bursting with different fluids – old power steering fluid can play havoc with the system. Check the lines for signs of blockages and oxidisation, bubbles tips you off to the presence of air and any metallics laced throughout the liquid could signal bigger issues in the pump. Remember low levels can indicate a leak somewhere, so keep an eye out for bright splashes on your driveway and let a professional known if you think things aren’t as they should be.
One last thing? Never drive with a faulty steering wheel. While you think you may be able to handle it, you risk the lives of everybody on the road and your own neck to boot.