Usually, when warning lights appear on our vehicle’s dashboard, we tend to be concerned. Especially when it’s the power steering warning light. It would mean a total power steering failure, making the vehicle much harder to steer.
This article will discuss what this light means, the cause of this warning light, and how to fix it.
What Does Service Power Steering Mean?
The “Service power steering” warning tells you that your power steering system has faults and immediately prompts you to investigate a possible cause. The reason may differ due to the type of power steering system in your vehicle. If your vehicle uses a hydraulic power steering system, then a leak in the system would be the cause that would result in a low power steering fluid.
In this case, carry out a thorough inspection of your vehicle for any power steering fluid leak. And if there isn’t any sign of a leak, replenish the power steering fluid. And if it’s an electronic power steering (EPS) system, you would notice an illuminated EPS light instead. EPS systems do not use fluids to provide steering assistance.
Now, there are no fluid levels to check, and as such, you would suspect the batteries because If you recently removed and reconnected your vehicle’s battery or required a jump-start for your car, it would confirm this.
What Causes This Service Light to Come On The Dashboard?
Below are some causes of the service power steering light:
1. Low Power Steering Fluid:-
The power steering system relies mainly on having a specific fluid volume to work accurately. And if you take a look under the hood, you’ll notice a small tank where you can pour in the new power steering fluid, and you will notice that there is a minimum level and a maximum level, which are pretty close.
So when the fluid in the system isn’t enough, your pump won’t have a proper lubrication, and the fluid temperature will rise, which could cause your pump to wear out prematurely. All these combined will lead to an early failure of the power steering and will cause this warning to appear.
2. Broken Power Steering Belt:-
The power steering system is connected to a pump run by the crankshaft of your vehicle’s engine. A pulley on the engine turns a belt connected to the power steering pump and thus always supplies the pump with consistent power. Sometimes, the belts could wear and tear, crack, and eventually snap.
When this happens, you’ll know immediately as your power steering will completely give out, and your steering will immediately become extremely stiff and difficult to operate correctly because your power steering pump no longer receives power from your engine.
3. Contaminated Power Steering Fluid:-
Pressure is applied against a specific amount of liquid to operate the power steering pump. In order for power steering systems to function optimally, the fluid in the hydraulic tubes must be free of contaminants, air bubbles, and other liquid intrusions. Contamination regularly occurs due to deterioration or falling apart of tubes and hoses present in the power steering system.
Similarly, moisture could find its way into the fluid, enhancing friction, which eventually leads to the power steering pump and, consequently, the power steering becoming extraordinarily stiff and difficult to control, especially when the vehicle is in motion. This will cause the service power steering warning to appear.
4. Bad Power Steering Pump:-
The power steering pump is a proper mechanical component with many moving parts. Every mechanical component with moving parts will experience wear with time. Seals can wear out, internal components can become warped, and excessive friction could eventually break it down. And sooner or later, the pump would lose pressure, and your steering would become less easy to operate.
Moreover, if your pump were to give out completely, you’d lose every bit of fluid pressure in your system, resulting in the total failure of your power steering you’ll be required to change the pump.
5. Power Steering Fluid Leaks:-
Even the smallest leaks in your fluid lines can cause a loss of fluid pressure. power steering fluid leak doesn’t happen immediately, as most times, it begins with a seal slowly starting to wear out and fail or a hose developing slight flaws.
It might seem like these are small and insignificant problems. They slowly and surely appear as minor problems, which become bigger, eventually leading to a failure of the power steering.
Is It Safe To Drive With This Warning Light On?
It is not safe to drive with the service power steering warning on. Even if you could, it’s not going to be easy, as the steering would become heavy, and steering will be difficult. It will also be near impossible to react to events on the highway; therefore, driving with the service power steering light could lead to a fatal accident.
How Much Does It Cost To Service The Power Steering?
If it comes to repairing the power steering pump, the cost would be somewhere between $200 and $350. Replacing the power steering pump with a brand new one would cost around $400 to $800 depending on the vehicle model or repair shop you take it to.
What to Do When This Service The Power Steering Light Comes On?
It would be best if you did the necessary things whenever the service power steering light turns on while you’re on the road. Below are some of them:
Step 1:- Signal Other Drivers Using Your Hazard Lights
It would be best if you signaled other drivers on the road that there’s a problem with your vehicle. You could do this action by turning on your vehicle’s hazard lights. And by doing this, you’re also allowing them to practice caution when passing or tailing your car.
Step 2:- Carefully Direct Your Vehicle To The Shoulder Of The Road
Examine the road properly for incoming cars and carefully turn your steering wheel to direct your car towards the shoulder of the road. This action would require you to apply extra force while moving slowly, depending on the damage suffered by your power steering system. Also, don’t be in haste to switch lanes. Always keep in mind that you might not be able to counter-steer immediately in emergencies.
Step 3:- Slow Down Until You Reach A Complete Stop
While you pull over to the shoulder of the road, don’t forget to step lightly on the brake pedals, making sure that there aren’t any fast-approaching vehicles before reducing your speed. Also, once you’ve reached the shoulder lane, gradually apply the brakes until you reach a complete stop.
Step 4:- Assess The Severity Of The Issue
After parking your vehicle in a secure spot, carefully proceed to assess the severity of the issue. You could carry out this action by turning the steering left and right to ascertain the severity of the problem.
Depending on the assessment outcome, you could continue driving until you get home or to a mechanic or even have the vehicle towed. Also, make sure to drive slowly and stay on the shoulder of the road to minimize steering inputs. Be highly aware of your surroundings and apply defensive driving at all times.
Step 5:- Call For A Tow Truck
Call for a tow truck if you cannot steer the vehicle properly or are under the impression that you shouldn’t drive your car in such conditions. Make sure that you park your vehicle at a safe position on the shoulder lane, as it could take some time before the tow truck arrives.
Frequently Asked Questions:-
1. What Causes Power Steering to Go Out?
In some cases, too much fluid could cause the valves and seals to collapse because of excess pressure. Or not enough fluid, and the pump can’t exert enough force required to turn your vehicle. Inputting the right amount of fluid would help prevent this issue, but if there be any leaks, the loss of fluid will eventually lead to failure of the power steering.
2. What Causes Electric Power Steering Failure?
The electronic power steering systems fail due to the problems associated with the mounted electric motors. The most likely cause of failure is excessive heat on the motor. And also, an Infiltration of the system environment by dust, water, dirt, or other contaminants will eventually lead to a failure of the EPS.
We hope the above-mentioned information about the service power steering warning light will be helpful to all the readers. If anybody’s doubts persist feel free to comment in the comment section below. We’ll try to solve your doubts as soon as possible.