What to Do When Your Car Talks Back to You

The modern-day car engine is designed to be whisper-quiet, so you and your passengers can enjoy a great conversation as you're driving down the road. Consequently, you will be able to hear any strange, new noise that emanates from underneath as soon as it materialises and will want to make sure that you take action to fix any problems. On this occasion, you've noticed that an odd "whining" noise appears as soon as you turn the steering wheel in a certain direction. What does this indicate and what should you do about it?

Power Steering Issues

This odd sound is an indication that you are developing a problem with your power steering mechanism, and several conditions could be to blame. To begin with, you should check to see if you can see any leaks by having a look under the car.

Looking for Problems

Once you have stopped safely by the side of the road, turn the steering wheel all the way to the left and this will make it easier for you to investigate. Have a look behind the wheel, where the steering rack connects to the hub.

You will notice a rubber sheath that is attached to the end of the steering rack by some clamps; if you can see some dampness here, fluid may be leaking out of the rack itself. If you trace the rack inward toward the centre of the car you will come across the power steering pump; once again, have a look to see if you can find any leaks.

Tell-Tale Signs

Power steering fluid tends to be either orange or brown in colour and you may notice that it is accompanied by a pungent smell of burning. If it is coming out of the power steering pump itself, this indicates that the seals have perished and will need to be replaced. However, if the fluid is coming out of the end of the rack then the entire unit may need to be replaced.

Consequences of Failure

This hydraulic fluid helps the driver to turn the steering wheel, especially in slow speed situations where friction from the road surface might make it more difficult. It's not an essential component and you can operate the car without it, but if the steering rack fails due to low levels then it may cause the system to seize in place. As your power steering pump is connected to the alternator and water pump via a rubber belt, this could cause additional damage elsewhere.

What to Do

Get in touch with your mechanic and tell them that you have noticed some leakage and they will be able to help you take further action.