Is It Bad To Drive Without Power Steering Fluid

A driver needs to maintain a suitable level of power steering fluid and have the necessary repairs made when it is low.

The direction of a car guarantees us safety when driving since it must be smooth and precise.

Many will wonder what happens if I run out of power steering oil? or is it bad to drive without power steering fluid? The answer can be varied because when this happens, there are multiple failures and high repair costs.

How does hydraulic steering work?

A hydraulic steering system works through the pump, pressing the liquid that is transported through hoses to the steering box.

In addition, it manipulates the hydraulic pump that is connected to the motor, which is coupled by a belt.

The steering pump depends a lot on the steering fluid to carry out its process.

If this fluid leaks, the power steering stops working, damaging the steering pump.

It is of vital importance to detect leaks, as well as a low level of liquid, in this case, it must be refilled as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a low power steering fluid level

steering wheel noise

One of the symptoms, when there is a lack of fluid in the steering, is the stiffness of the steering wheel, in addition to presenting difficulties when turning. 

It is essential to pay attention to this fault since your car can cause accidents on the road.

weird noises

As we mentioned before, hydraulic steering works with a pump that creates pressure on the steering device.

This pump helps the fluid circulate, for smooth steering, when there is less fluid in the pump and more air, there will be weird noises when turning the steering wheel.

The steering wheel jerks

When the driver turns the steering wheel and feels a sharp jump, it is most likely a low steering fluid level.

This happens mostly when you are driving slowly down the street or turning to park.

liquid leak

If you see a fluid leak under the car, this is a sign that the fluid level is low.


Some certain breakdowns or problems can occur in our car while we are driving and if we do not have certain knowledge or have read about the subject, we cannot identify them until it is too late to be able to fix them or at least prevent them from causing us more headaches. head of those that could have been had if we detected the problem in advance. That is why in this article we are going to talk about a relatively common problem and that if it is not detected in time, it will involve not only a visit to the workshop but very probably the need for a crane to be able to reach it.

What are power steering systems?

But to understand what steering fluid is, it is first advisable to talk about power steering. Power steering is a system created to reduce the force that the driver of a car has to apply to turn the steering wheel through the steering wheel. We have had this system among us for decades, so, likely, many of those who read this article have not even been able to try what it is to circulate without this active system.

Types of power steering systems

Currently, there are different power steering systems, below we will briefly see some of them:

  • Hydraulic-assisted steering bases its operation on the use of a pump that is connected directly to the engine using a belt and allows us to achieve more turning with less movement of the steering wheel as the speed of the vehicle increases.
  • Electro-hydraulic power steering is similar to the previous one although the pump is connected to an electric motor and this in turn to a battery that allows its movement.
  • In electric power steering, as in the previous case, an electric motor is included, although this is in charge of carrying out the entire process from its location in the steering column.

Power steering fluid leak symptoms

The power steering usually works without us being excessively aware of it, as we indicated previously, we have very internalized its use, and therefore the fact that the steering wheel does not present hardly any resistance to its rotation we have it as something normal, but then we are going to see some symptoms that said power steering is not in its optimal state and therefore we must be alert because if it is fluid loss, these symptoms will increase continuously.

noisy address

One detail that we will be noticing, in this case listening, as the power steering fluid leaves the circuit and therefore this power steering becomes less effective, is that we will hear noises similar to those of chafing (just as if by lack of liquid between parts in question). This effect will be accompanied by the following symptom that we will see below, which is that of a harder turn or greater resistance accompanying this noise.

hard power steering

The first thing that we can notice during our driving in the event of a loss of fluid from the power steering is to notice a greater resistance to the rotation of our steering wheel. This type of situation is noticed to a greater extent as the liquid is lost and at first, it can be so slight that we do not realize it, but simply we are exerting a little more force to turn than would be common. In places with sharp turns or roundabouts is where we will begin to notice that lack of agility on our part that will be caused precisely by that need to exert more force and therefore we will notice at these points where the turn is more pronounced, that something is happening.

Power steering fluid leak

Fluid losses in the power steering usually occur due to a problem in one of the components that are part of the system, due to progressive wear and atmospheric conditions, components such as the hoses can suffer small breaks as they are commonly made of rubber. On the other hand, the pressure loss in connections that loosen over time can also have a lot to do with it.

Apart from the previous examples, joints that exist between the steering shaft and its own, called the steering rack, can allow this liquid to escape, creating the problems that we have commented on previously.

What causes power steering fluid loss?

Therefore, and as we have briefly commented in the previous point, there are several possible origins for this type of power steering fluid leak, although they are usually aspects related to the passage of time and the wear of the elements that intervene in that system.

All these situations generate small gaps or spaces through which the liquid can progressively come out and in more or less time leave us without practically all of it, making our car drive as if it did not have an assisted steering system.

We hope that this article has allowed you to learn more about this type of breakdown, which is more common than we think and can affect everyone, although, as we have mentioned, it is more likely in older vehicles or those that are usually more up to date. weather that can end up taking its toll on the state of the components, as we have said, especially the rubber can end up resentful in this regard, and for this reason it will be advisable to check for any indication of loss of power steering fluid, these elements are more vulnerable to breakage, fragment or simply loosen and therefore leave space for the exit of said liquid.


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