Power steering plays a crucial role in vehicle handling and safety. By using hydraulic fluid to multiply the force applied to the steering wheel, power steering makes it much easier to turn the wheels, especially at low speeds or when stopped. This allows drivers to easily manoeuvre vehicles of all sizes with minimal effort. Without properly functioning power steering, vehicles become extremely difficult to steer, posing a major safety hazard.
The purpose of this blog post is to explore some of the most common power steering problems found in Ford vehicles and provide practical solutions to diagnose and repair them. By gaining a better understanding of issues like fluid leaks, pump failure, worn steering components, and loose belts, Ford owners can address problems promptly and restore safe steering. Timely repairs prevent complete power steering failures and ensure vehicles handle predictably in all conditions.
Power Steering’s Importance for Safe Driving
Power steering prevents fatigue by easing the physical demands of turning the wheels. This allows drivers to react quickly to hazards and make emergency manoeuvres when necessary. Without power steering, quick reactions and evasive actions require much more strength and effort. Power steering also provides important tactile feedback about road conditions, allowing drivers to sense changes in traction or hazards like potholes. When power steering systems fail completely, vehicles become extremely hazardous to operate, especially at low speeds.
Helping Ford Owners Address Common Power Steering Problems
While all vehicles rely on power steering, Ford models do experience common issues with steering components and fluids. By providing clear, actionable advice to Ford owners, this blog post aims to help drivers identify and repair power steering problems promptly. Timely preventative maintenance and repairs will restore safe handling, prevent complete failures, and ultimately help avoid devastating accidents.
Identifying Ford Power Steering Issues
Difficulty turning the steering wheel can be one of the first signs of a problem with the power steering system in a Ford vehicle. When power assist is diminished, the driver may struggle to turn the wheel, especially at low speeds or when the vehicle is stopped. This makes routine manoeuvres like parking exceptionally difficult. Without properly functioning power steering, quick evasive actions in emergency situations also become much harder. Diagnosing and addressing any difficulty in turning the wheel should be a top priority to restore safe handling.
Hearing odd noises from the steering system when turning the wheel can indicate issues like low power steering fluid, a damaged pump, loose belt, or failing electric assist motor. These sounds may include whining, grinding, clunking or squeaking. The specific noise can help identify the root cause. For example, a high pitched whine usually signals a problem with the pump. Letting these sounds go unchecked risks further damage and eventual loss of assist. Getting the peculiar noises investigated promptly is key.
Evidence of fluid leaks near the power steering pump, hoses, steering gear or rack points to a breach in the system. Leaked fluid leads to low levels which impairs assistance over time. The leaks themselves also need repairing to prevent contamination from dirt and debris after exposure to air. Catching leaks early before major assist loss occurs is crucial. Owners should routinely check for signs of wetness or dripping around steering components and address any found leaks urgently.
Trouble with steering that feels uneven, pulls to one side, wanders, or is otherwise inconsistent can profoundly impact safety. Potential causes range from low tire pressure to more serious suspension or alignment issues. But steering component wear or damage can also be the culprit. Vehicle owners noticing any unevenness or steering that doesn’t feel centred should have the entire steering and suspension system inspected right away to pinpoint the problem.
Common Causes of Ford Power Steering Problems
One of the most common causes of power steering issues in Ford vehicles is low fluid levels. Power steering fluid is essential for transferring hydraulic pressure in the system to assist steering. If levels fall too low due to leaks or lack of maintenance, it can lead to whining noises from the pump, difficulty turning the wheel, and even complete failure.
Low Power Steering Fluid
As fluid levels fall in the reservoir, air can enter the system leading to foam, bubbles, and aeration issues. This prevents adequate pressure build up and makes the steering feel loose or disconnected. Topping up fluid levels is crucial, but identifying and fixing any leaks is also vital to prevent ongoing drops in fluid over time.
Damaged Power Steering Pump
A failing or damaged power steering pump is another prime suspect for Ford steering problems. The pump uses a pulley system connected by belts to the engine’s crankshaft. Issues like loose, worn or broken belts can prevent sufficient pump speed and pressure. Internal pump damage from contaminated fluid or wear and tear over time can also reduce flow rates and pressure.
Worn Steering Rack
The steering rack connects to the wheels via tie rods and converts the rotary motion of the steering wheel to lateral motion to turn the tires left or right. Excessive play or looseness in a worn steering rack reduces responsiveness and road feel. This gradual degradation can go unnoticed until steering issues arise or components fail entirely.
As mentioned, belts connect the power steering pump to the engine to operate it. Loose, cracked or slipped belts cannot adequately spin the pump leading to low assist levels. Replacing worn belts and properly tensioning new belts is key maintenance for the power steering system. Belt issues can also cause noisy steering as pump speeds fluctuate.
In summary, common Ford steering problems often come down to fluid levels, pump operation, steering rack wear or drive belt issues. Being proactive about fluid checks, leak fixes and scheduled belt changes goes a long way to preventing problems.
Troubleshooting Ford Power Steering Issues
Regularly checking your Ford’s power steering fluid level is one of the easiest and most important troubleshooting steps you can take. Be sure to use the manufacturer-recommended power steering fluid and top it up to the proper level if low. Low fluid is a very common reason for steering issues like stiff steering or whining noises when turning.
Checking power steering fluid
You should check your Ford’s power steering fluid at least once a month. Look for signs of leaking fluid under the vehicle or around components like the power steering pump. Top up the fluid if the level is low to help prevent further steering problems.
Power steering pump inspection
If you suspect issues with your power steering pump, carefully inspect it for signs of leaks or damage. Listen for unusual noises coming from the pump while turning the steering wheel with the engine on. Have a professional determine if the pump needs to be replaced.
Steering rack examination
Inspect boots and tie rod ends on the steering rack for signs of cracks or leaking grease. Have a professional check for excessive play indicating worn components. Address any issues immediately before they lead to loss of steering control.
Make sure drive belts running the power steering pump are in good condition and properly tensioned. Replace any belts that are cracked, frayed or glazed from slipping. Regular belt maintenance helps prevent unexpected breakage leading to steering failure.
When to Seek Professional Help
There are certain severe power steering failures that indicate it’s time to bring your Ford vehicle to a professional mechanic. For example, if you suddenly lose all power steering capability, hear loud grinding noises from the system, or experience violent steering wheel shaking, immediate professional attention is warranted. Continuing to drive with these extreme symptoms can be extremely dangerous and lead to complete steering failure.
Additionally, if you have slow power steering fluid leaks that need regular topping up, the underlying cause likely requires professional diagnosis and repair. Small fluid leaks left unattended can rapidly turn into major leaks, severely damaging components like the power steering pump, steering gear, and hoses.
Severe power steering failures
As outlined above, sudden and complete loss of power steering, loud grinding noises, and violent shaking of the steering wheel are clear signs that your Ford requires urgent professional attention. The potential consequences of continuing to drive despite these symptoms include irreparable damage to the power steering system, loss of vehicle control, and collisions.
Seeking immediate professional help gives mechanics the chance to diagnose issues before they worsen. For example, grinding noises likely indicate internal damage within the power steering pump that will only get worse without repair. Violent shaking of the wheel could reflect underlying issues with steering components or alignment.
While minor power steering fluid leaks and noises can sometimes be addressed with DIY fixes, more complex repairs involving components like the power steering pump, pulleys, steering gear or rack, and hydraulic lines should be left to professional mechanics.
Professionals have the expertise to thoroughly diagnose problems, access difficult-to-reach components, properly replace parts, adjust alignments, and test repairs for safety. Additionally, shops have specialty tools and equipment to efficiently conduct complex power steering repairs.
Without professional help, DIYers risk improperly installing components, further damaging the system, and reducing the road-worthiness of the vehicle. Ongoing problems could also end up costing more in the long run than comprehensive professional repairs up front.
In summary, power steering issues are common in Ford vehicles and can lead to difficulty steering, noise, fluid leaks, and uneven steering. Addressing these problems promptly is crucial for safe driving.
The most frequent causes include low power steering fluid, damaged components like the pump or steering rack, and worn belts. Regular checks and maintenance of fluid levels, pumps, belts and other parts is key to minimising problems.
When issues do occur, owners should first troubleshoot by:
- Checking power steering fluid levels
- Inspecting the pump and steering rack
- Examining belts
For major failures or complex repairs, seeking help from a professional mechanic is highly recommended.