Your vehicle's power steering system is powered by pressurized fluid. The engine provides power to pressurize your power steering fluid through the power steering pump. This pump is connected to a pulley with a single belt or two, depending on the model, make and year of manufacture of your car. The belt goes round they pulley to spin it while the engine is running, powering the pump. When the engine is switched off, the pump has no power to run.
Like other pulleys connected to the engine, proper working of your power steering pump pulley heavily depends on its pulley bearing. This bearing is usually worn out by friction and heat, and should be inspected on a regular basis and replaced as need arises. However, there are common symptoms associated with pump pulley failure, and these are discussed in detail below.
Engine gives off a burning smell
If your engine gives off a burning smell, this often indicated that the belt/belts is/are not tight. If this is left uncorrected, the belt(s) may break or slip out of the drive train, leaving the pulley unable to function properly. If you notice this, you need to stop by a mechanic's shop as soon as possible, so that they can identify the exact cause of the belt's loosening. In certain cases, the entire pump pulley system may have to be replaced.
Steering wheel is choppy/jumpy
If you notice that your power steering system is jumpy/choppy while you're driving, there's a problem with your pump pulley system. Jumpy steering occurs because the pump pulley belt keeps slipping out of place, causing the pulley to produce too much heat. This heat can in turn aggravate damage on the power steering pump bearings and seals, reducing the level of reliability and responsiveness of your vehicle as you turn the wheel. This can be especially dangerous if you're navigating a corner, or are in high traffic areas.
Steering wheel failure
This will happen finally if other failure symptoms are not attended to, and it must be diagnosed and corrected by a qualified mechanic. There are a number of reasons your vehicle might refuse to steer, e.g. problems with the bearings, belt(s) or pump pulley. This is why professional intervention is necessary.
Prevention is better than cure: taking care of your pulley system
You can prevent your power steering system from failing by regularly inspecting your power steering system and correcting minor faults before they are significant enough to cause damage. At your scheduled service and oil change appointments, ensure that the mechanic inspects the pump pulley, belt and bearing systems to ensure they are working properly.
If replacement is necessary, the mechanic will check under your hood and remove the serpentine belt (pump belt). He/she uses a pulley puller to remove the power steering pulley and then a pulley installer to replace the faulty pulley with a new one. He/she then replaces the belt and checks for proper pulley alignment. The engine will then be switched on to confirm that the power steering system is functional once again.Share
3 March 2016
It's easy to get overlooked when you head into get your car serviced if you are a woman. I have found the trick to getting the auto repairers to take me seriously is to do some research beforehand and look at what the log book says they need to replace this service. I wish I had started doing it earlier because it's also helping me trouble shoot repair issues and I'm saving myself a lot of time and stress this way. I'm keeping track of everything I have learned on this blog so I can share it with other new drivers and help them understand their auto service requirements as well.