What is a power steering belt replacement?
During a power steering belt replacement, a mechanic swaps a worn or broken belt for a new one.
If your power steering belt has worn down and lost tension, it might slip and lead to clunky, inconsistent steering. For this reason, it’s critical to replace a damaged power steering belt.
If you do not replace your belt in time, it could break. Your power steering system may then lose function entirely.
Cars made in the last 25 years or so feature just one belt: the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt transmits power to several components, including the power steering pump. If this belt loses tension or breaks, it could affect more than just your power steering system, making a replacement even more important.
How to replace a power steering belt
With some cars, you may have to unhook and lift up the engine to access the power steering belt, which wraps around a series of pulleys and maintains a certain level of tension. This task calls for specific skills and tools.
Because of this, most car owners turn to a professional mechanic for a power steering belt replacement. A mechanic takes the following steps to replace a power steering belt:
- Access the power steering belt
- Loosen the pulley and power steering bolts
- Release tension from the power steering pump
- Remove the worn power steering belt
- Install the new power steering belt onto the pulleys
- Tighten the power steering pump.
- Tighten the pulley and power steering bolts.
- Check the pulley alignment
- Run the engine and check the power steering system
How do I know if my power steering belt needs replacing?
Watch out for two major indicators of a worn power steering belt: engine noises and inconsistent steering. If your engine grinds or squeaks when you start the car or turn the wheel, this may mean it’s time for a power steering belt replacement. If your car’s steering feels a bit jerky or difficult, this could be a red flag as well.
If the belt breaks, your power steering system will stop working altogether.
Key Takeaway If your car’s engine is squealing or grinding, or if you’re struggling to steer your car normally, get your power steering belt checked.
How important is a power steering belt replacement?
If you want to stay safe on the road, you need a functional power steering belt. A worn or broken belt will make steering (and, in turn, controlling your vehicle) much more difficult.
In modern cars, the serpentine belt controls the power steering pump in addition to the alternator, air conditioning, and—sometimes—water pump. A failing serpentine belt will affect all these systems and make driving less comfortable, more dangerous, and harder all around. In many cases, a car with a broken serpentine belt may lose power entirely.
Tips for replacing a power steering belt
Most serpentine belts are made to last, but you should have yours checked by a professional every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
If you want to run your own visual checks as well, you can. Cracks, glazing, or shiny spots along the ribs of the belt might indicate that it’s time for a replacement. If the belt looks worn or has gravel, oil, or other debris on it, this is another sign.
The cost to replace a power steering belt varies depending on what type of car you have. However, you can expect to pay $150 to $300 for parts and labor.
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