A power steering problem will obviously make it difficult to steer, but it helps to check the power steering fluid level to verify the problem. Find out how power steering fluid can oxidize and become defective with help from an automotive technology professor in this free video on power steering problems.
If you have a power steering concern, probably you're obviously you're going to have difficult steering. It could be in one direction or the other. It could be a situation which occurs on a lot of these cars, where the steering is very difficult in the morning, and then as the car warms up it returns to normal. That's another condition that takes place. One of the first things that you want to do when you have a power steering concern is check your power steering fluid. You want to do this, in most cases, with the engine off, and you want to take a towel, clean around the top so that you don't get any dirt or debris inside, and then you want to remove the cover. And on the cover, here, you have a little dip-stick right here, and it should tell you the hot fill and the cold fill. You wanna, again, check it hot and make sure you don't overfill it. So if it's cold it should be right at the bottom. If it's hot, should be part way up. Another thing you want to do is look at the fluid and the condition of the fluid. Power steering fluid gets very hot, and the fluid can oxidize and become defective. So one thing you might want to do is actually smell it, and see if it smells like it's been cooking or burnt, and then take a towel and check the actual color of it. I usually take a white paper towel and check it and then look for grit in it. But you want to make sure that you have the proper fluid level. Another thing that you want to check is the drive belt. And you wanna, of course, watch and make sure no one is in the vehicle when you do this. A good idea to put the keys up on top of the dash or in your pocket so no one will actually get in there, because if you get your fingers in there, you're gonna, you know, probably not be the same after that. But this is a serpentine drive belt right here. You want to check this belt. It's obviously glazed on the top, and you want to look at the underneath of the belt and make sure it's not cracked or slipping, or in other ways have the belt clip. With these serpentine belts, you get very little belt slippage. With the older style V-belts, they used to slip and squawk quite a bit, and that would cause an issue. Obviously, if you're low on fluid, the fluid's going someplace. You have a leak. You need to address that leak. It could be coming out of the power steering pump right here, or you have a leak here, it could be a defective hose, a pressure hose which is down here, which is usually the case. Or it could....sometimes it's a return hose, but not too often, and sometimes it can be a pressure relief valve that could be stuck or malfunctioning, and those have to be addressed. A lot of cars today use rack and pinion power steering. The rack and pinion units, themselves, go out. They can also develop leaks. We recommend that you just put in a re-manufactured unit into the vehicle. You get the whole unit, from tie-rod end to tie-rod end, so everything is replaced. You get all new boots. Everything's reconditioned. The only thing you have to make sure is that you flush out the rest of the power steering system, so that you're not putting dirty, contaminated fluid back into that new rack, because the re-manufacturer will not warranty it if you happen to send it back because if it goes defective in a short period of time due to contaminated fluid. So again, there is a fluid exchanger that can be hooked up, right into the system right here. Pull all the old fluid out and put new fluid back in, and you're good to go for about 30,000 miles. So that should be done, depending upon the usage of the vehicle, the power steering fluid should be changed.