How to tell if power steering is bad

Written by jen davis
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How to tell if power steering is bad
Your car's steering system is one of the most important components. (ford mustang's steering wheel image by Lario Tus from

Broken or a leaking power steering pump typically causes the power steering system to fail. Driving a car without power steering can be difficult, and even dangerous, due to the way the vehicle handles when system is not properly operating. Cars manufactured during the last 20 to 30 years were never intended to operate without power steering and will be very hard to control. If the system has failed, it needs to be repaired to make driving safe.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check your power steering fluid as it may be the problem. Add fluid if needed.

    You can lose power steering if there is no fluid.

  2. 2

    Check your serpentine belt. It powers the power steering pump and several other accessory components when the engine is running. If the belt is broken, chances are the alternator and other important systems also are not functioning. In this case, the problems is the power source for the power steering, not the actual system. Repairing the belt should fix the power steering.

  3. 3

    Start the car. Gently turn the wheel to the right and then to the left. The wheel should move if the power steering is properly functioning. If this takes significant, the power steering system is probably not properly functioning.

  4. 4

    Drive your car slowly and attempt to turn. The power steering should be fine if this is easy to do. If not, the system is not working.

Tips and warnings

  • Driving without power steering is dangerous. You should repair your power steering system immediately if it is broken.

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