6 Symptoms of a Bad Power Steering Pump

Imperial MEA
3 min readMar 25, 2022


As our today’s topic is steering wheels, the classic power steering uses a power steering pump that moves pressurized hydraulic fluid to provide help, while some modern designs use an electric motor instead.

Hydraulic power steering is often known to provide better steering feel, but with recent advancements in electric power steering this is not always the case. This electric power steering system often require no maintenance and provide better fuel economy, as they lack a power steering pump and are not driven from an accessory belt.

Here we have listed 6 symptoms of a Bad Power Steering Pump:

1. Low and/or Leaking Power Steering Fluid Level

Power steering fluid is a very important component of the pump, so running the pump low on power steering fluid can cause problems. The pump can also be physically damaged due to wear or age.

The reservoir for the power steering fluid is found under the hood and is often on the passenger’s side of the vehicle, though it depends on how the engine is mounted. Check the level of fluid to ensure it’s within the proper range. There should be a low and a full mark on the reservoir.

If you see any leakages between the pump and the reservoir, the affected part should be repaired before the vehicle is driven much more to avoid any risk or damage. The power steering fluid is usually red or red-brown, so seeing a puddle of this colour below the vehicle is a pretty big clue that something may be wrong with the power steering pump.

2. Grey Power Steering Fluid and/or Visible Metal Flakes

While checking the level in the reservoir, note the colour of the power steering fluid. If it’s grey, this indicates that it has oxidized and won’t function as it should. Oxidation can happen when an excess of air enters the system as it could through a faulty power steering pump.

A bad pump can sometimes cause metal flakes in the power steering fluid. Metal rubbing on metal and material wearing away due to deterioration can also be the reason.

3. Squealing Upon Start-up

This is a very common symptom when the accessory belt is loose, but it could also be a sign that the power steering pump is going bad. Before replacing the pump, first check to make sure the tension on the accessory belt is set correctly.

If you hear the squeal during sharp turns and not just on start-up, this may point toward a bad pump, not just a loose belt.

4. Whining or Groaning Sound While Turning

unusual noises can be caused by a faulty power steering pump. Groaning is worse than whining because it usually signals a lack of sufficient fluid, which can ruin other parts in the power steering system. Either sound can also be caused by a bearing that has been knocked out of place.

This whining or groaning often intensifies as the engine speed (RPM) increases and as the steering wheel turns. If you hear abnormal sounds when you turn your steering wheel, try going to a safe place such as a lightly travelled road and drive in a manner of different ways to find the cause problem.

This is great information to give the mechanic so they have an easier time identifying the problem.

5. Steering Wheel Slow to Respond

When turning the steering wheel should immediately turn the front tires, as expected. If you turn the steering wheel and the vehicle’s tires have to play “catch-up”, something could be wrong with the power steering pump.

This can be very dangerous because when the vehicle doesn’t react to the driver’s input as expected, reaction time is increased as the driver may have to correct their initial input. This can even cause an accident if the driver tries to swerve to avoid something or someone but the vehicle doesn’t respond as it should.

This condition could indicate other problems with the steering components or front suspension components as well, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

6. Increased Steering Effort

A vehicle with power steering should be f easy to turn. If your vehicle’s steering seems unusually heavy and is hard to turn, it’s a good idea to have the power steering pump checked out.



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