Common Signs of Power Steering Failure

Persistent trouble with steering and controlling your vehicle is a common sign of power steering failure, but it's not the only sign. Understanding a few other symptoms of your vehicle's power steering failing can mean getting it fixed as quickly as possible, so the steering doesn't outright fail. This will also reduce the risk of needing more expensive repairs in the future. Note a few of those common signs here, so you know your vehicle's steering is always safe and you won't risk getting stranded on the highway.


Your vehicle's power steering system works with a belt that can eventually crack or split, just like the vehicle's fan belt or alternator belt. As with these other belts, when the power steering belt is failing, you often hear a squealing. This can happen when your car starts, when you turn a corner or change lanes, or otherwise need to turn the steering wheel.

Grinding or groaning noise

The vehicle's power steering fluid is pumped from its reservoir into the steering system; when this pump begins to fail, it may make a grinding or groaning noise as it operates, and which gets worse over time. You may also notice that the steering becomes stiffer, as the system gets less fluid when the pump begins to fail. Any such grinding, groaning, or other noise under the vehicle's hood should be checked as soon as possible, but if this noise is accompanied by stiff steering, the power steering pump is the first place to look!

Loose steering

Stiff steering is a common sign of failing power steering, but the steering may also become very loose, meaning you need to rotate the steering wheel more than normal in order to turn a corner or change lanes. This often happens when there is not enough fluid being delivered to the power steering system, and this problem usually gets worse over time. If left unchecked, the fluid may run out completely, and the steering may then fail altogether.

Uneven tyre wear

If your vehicle's power steering is failing, the vehicle may be harder to control overall, so it then pulls to one side or the other. In turn, your vehicle's tyres will suffer uneven tread wear. This uneven wear can be caused by poor alignment, lack of proper balancing, or mismatched tyres, but if you've checked those issues, note if the power steering fluid is low or if the steering system needs other repairs.