You start your car, put it in reverse, and start backing out of the driveway - a mundane task you’ve carried out hundreds of times without incident. Only this time, it take a herculean effort to steer you car into the road.
If you’re experiencing this, don’t worry! You haven’t suddenly lost all your strength after a single night. More than likely, your power steering is out for one reason or another.
A loss of power steering isn’t a death sentence for your vehicle, it’s not going to cost a month’s salary to fix, and the solution can often be found without a trip to your mechanic. But we get it - life gets crazy. Your car is still working, even though it’s difficult to steer. So, do you need to get it fixed right away?
As with many things, this answer isn’t black and white. No, you don’t have to fix it immediately - but it’s something that should be addressed.
Steering Pumps Work Even When They're Broken
Have you ever heard Mitch Hedberg’s quip about how escalators can never break, that they only become stairs? Power steering systems are kind of like that. They’re designed to work even when the pump fails, and it won’t likely further damage your car. As long as your power steering isn’t leaking fluid, it will still work, although it will take some extra elbow grease to make it happen.
However, we wouldn’t recommend driving your car for too long without determining why your power steering has failed. A failure could be a symptom of a greater problem, and should be evaluated ASAP.
As for getting your power steering fixed, it's up to you (assuming you know that the failure isn't part of a larger issue). When your power steering is out, turning becomes more of a workout than a simple part of driving. This makes it harder to steer around obstacles, whether it be a pothole or a kid running into the street for their ball. On modern cars with relatively small steering wheels and tall steering ratios, driving without power steering can be dangerous. Particularly at low speeds where steering effort is greatest.
When To Get Power Steering Fixed ASAP
There are some situations where you shouldn’t continue driving. If the power steering is out because of an issue with the steering mechanism itself, driving it will just make things worse, leading to a hefty repair bill. And if your steering is out because the system has leaked most or all of the fluid, that’s a sign to get it fixed ASAP. Continuous driving with no power steering fluid can lead to anything from steering rack damage to engine fires.
Our advice? If you find yourself without power steering, don’t panic. However, we’d highly recommend taking a deeper look at the issue to fix it once and for all. And if you find yourself needing a new power steering pump or hoses, don't hesitate to visit our site or call one of our experts. We'll steer you in the right direction!