To check the fluid in your automobile Power steering. Opening the hood, you will usually find the unit on the driver’s side, near the front with a rubber belt wrapped around the pulley on it. On top you will see a screw cap that says "Power Steering Fluid" Turn the cap counter-clockwise and lift up. You will note a short dip-stick coming out of it. Look closely and you will see the marks on it, which depict the level it is at. If it shows full or almost full, it is ok, if not, and it shows "add" pour in the required fluid. If you have your automobile regularly serviced, the technician should always check this off on the services performed sheet they provide you, when making payment. If you are not in possession of the proper fluid, visit your local quick-lube location and they will top it off for you, of course, for a charge. It is rare for a power steering unit to be low on fluid, so be on the look-out for a leak.
Allowing your power steering fluid to run low, can necessitate your having to replace, it due to excessive wear. When the pump stops functioning, the pressure drops and the power steering system loses its hydraulic pressure. Also, allow contaminants to get into your reservoir and pump assembly can allow small bits of the rapidly disintegrating metal to lodge themselves in the system and cause even more potentially expensive problems.
Although there are different types of power steering pump, they all require the hydraulic pressure of the power steering fluid to give you the strength to almost effortlessly turn the wheels Whether it is rack-and-pinion, recalculating ball, or some other new version. No matter which one, the power steering system will fail if the pump cannot generate the pressure required to push the steering mechanism back and forth.
Since the power steering fluid is constantly getting mashed around by pump and piston alike it requires regular attention. Checking the fluid level and changing and flushing at intervals recommended by the manufacturer will bring long life to the hoses, pistons, valves, seals, and power steering pump itself. Sight and smell are your allies when it comes to determining the condition of power steering fluid. The fluid should be clear, not cloudy, and should not smell burnt or toasted. A power steering pump usually announces it beginning demise with sounds of groans and growls, as you turn the steering wheel left and right.
These low groaning noises are particularly apparent when the system is under heavy load, such as parallel parking, this is where the power steering is at its peak of stress. While a small amount of noise at the very end of the steering travel is normal, continual groaning is not. Should your noise from the hood be moderate howling, this could merely be a sign of low power steering fluid level. When checking and topping off the power steering fluid, be sure to consult the vehicle owner's or service manual as to which type of fluid is the right one. Pouring in the wrong fluid or overfilling the system can cause serious damage. If the fluid is low? check the units’ hoses, fittings, clamps, since there should be no sign of fluid. Bear in mind, that if it is howling and not low on fluid, "the end is relatively near".
If so, it is either time for you to replace the pump, or have a new one installed by your mechanic. It is not necessary to replace you power steering unit with a new factory replacement, those from the secondary market are just as good, and cost significantly less. Do check that it comes with a warranty, the one advantage to having your unit installed at a automobile agency shop and a new factory replacement unit, is that they will replace the new unit if it is defective, at no charge, usually!