What is a power steering pump replacement?
Replacing the power steering pump is highly technical and involved. Most power steering pumps are attached to the engine of your car, which means replacing the pump could directly impact the engine.
There are two types of power steering pumps: belt-driven or hydraulic-driven electric pump. Both of these pumps create pressure that is used to power the power steering assist system. Without this, your steering wheel would be near impossible to turn, unless you’re an Olympian or powerlifter.
How to replace a power steering pump
Buckle up; this is about to get highly technical.
When a mechanic replaces your power steering pump, the process is mostly identical for both a belt-driven and hydraulic-driven electric pump, except for the first step. The process looks like this:
- For a belt-driven pump: This style of pump is bolted to the engine. The mechanic will wait for the engine to cool completely before removing the drive belt.
- For hydraulic-driven electric pump: The mechanic will find this pump attached to either the steering shaft or the steering rack.
- With both types of pumps, the mechanic will need to likely remove any dash, panel, or steering components to access the pump.
- The mechanic loosens and removes threaded connectors to the pump’s inlet and outlet.
- The mechanic removes any possible mounting bolts and brackets (applicable on different pumps) so they can remove the pump.
- If the mechanic fears contamination of the power steering system, they will flush the system.
- They then attach the new pump, attach pressure and return hoses, and bleed the system of air.
- A mechanic will need to tighten belt-driven pumps to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- The mechanic tests the power steering pump replacement by running the engine and taking the car for a test drive.
- If the pump is belt-driven, the mechanic will remeasure the tension of the belt and adjust as needed after the test drive.
When do I need to replace the power steering pump?
Typically, if you can’t turn your car’s steering wheel, there’s an issue with your power steering system.
That said, the power steering system has multiple components that have their own indicators. You will know your power steering pump needs replacing if you notice any of the following:
- Grinding or whining sounds when you turn
- Leaks in the power steering system
- Damage to the pump pulley, which often creates vibrations
If you notice any of these, call a mechanic and get your car serviced immediately. It is not safe to drive with a faulty power steering pump.
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