Power steering fluid is essential, and if your fluid is leaking, your car won't work as it should. As a driver, it's important to understand the signs that you have a leak. Here's what to look for.
1. Difficulty Turning
In many cases, the first sign that you have a leak may be issues with turning. Your car may refuse to respond to the motions of the wheel, and you may have to really crank the wheel to get the vehicle to do anything.
If you have ever driven an older car without power steering, you may be familiar with this experience. However, it's important to note that you can't just go without fluid and manually turn your wheel. Vehicles equipped with power steering systems aren't designed to work without power steering fluid, and using the vehicle without it can be very dangerous.
2. Noises Whilst Turning
In other cases, you may notice noises whilst turning the wheel. Typically, they sound like moaning or whining sounds. If you notice this issue, you may want to look for other signs of trouble.
3. Leaking Fluid
If you see a puddle of fluid under your car after it has been parked, that too may be a sign that your power steering reservoir may be leaking. However, it could also be an oil leak, a transmission fluid leak or another type of leak. Power steering fluid generally has a sweet smell.
4. Wet Reservoir
A leak may also make the outside of the power steering reservoir or the connected tubing or other components look and feel wet. Look at the tubing that extends from the reservoir. If you see moisture around the gaskets (the seals where the tubing connects to other parts), that could be a sign of a leak. In those cases, you can try repairing the leak with a little tape. If the entire tube is wet, that may need replacing as well.
5. Emptying Reservoir
Finally, you should check the reservoir itself. Locate the cap, remove it and check if the reservoir is low. There should be a dipstick attached to the cap to allow you to check it. If the levels are low, top up the reservoir. Then, check again in a day or two. If the reservoir isn't full any longer, that means you definitely have a leak.
If you suspect a leak or if you know you have a leak and want to get it repaired, contact a power steering specialist in your area.