- The high-pressure power steering hose supplies the steering gear with oil from the pump, while the low-pressure hose transfers the oil from the steering gear back to the pump.
- There are either two or three power steering hoses, depending on whether the power steering reservoir is mounted remotely or on the pump. If the reservoir is on the pump, there will be a pressure hose and a return hose.
- A smelly puddle under your vehicle, difficulty in steering, and abnormal noise from your power steering pump are common symptoms of a power steering hose leak.
The power steering system plays an important role in helping you steer your vehicle smoothly on the road. A power steering hose leak can greatly affect the performance of your steering pump, so it’s important to know how to spot one right away.
What Is a Power Steering Hose?
The high-pressure power steering hose supplies the steering gear with oil from the pump, while the low-pressure hose transfers the oil from the steering gear back to the pump. Both hoses are made from a special synthetic rubber, but the high-pressure hose usually has additional layers of polymer materials.
Pressure Hose and Return Hose
There are either two or three power steering hoses, depending on whether the power steering reservoir is mounted remotely or on the pump. If the reservoir is on the pump, there will be a pressure hose and a return hose.
There are either two or three power steering hoses, depending on whether the power steering reservoir is mounted remotely or on the pump. If the reservoir is on the pump, there will be a pressure hose and a return hose.–Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
The return hose typically attaches to the reservoir with a clamp. The pressure hose is more robust and is attached to the pump outlet and the steering gear with special flare nuts and seals, and must be capable of holding around 2000 psi. Most power steering pumps produce 1200-1500 psi, so the pressure hose needs to be able to handle a lot more than this.
Power steering pressure lines have precisely shaped metal tubes where they connect to the steering pump and the gear. Since the pump is on the engine and the gear is frame-mounted, the fluid travels through high pressure rubber hose en route for flexibility.
Some power steering lines have a joint with an o-ring in the center to handle the movement of the engine. Using a cheaply built power steering line can result in this joint failing almost immediately. In addition, some pressure lines are long and convoluted and some will have cooling fins so as to cool the fluid en route.
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What Are the Symptoms of a Power Steering Hose Leak?
If you suspect your vehicle might have a leaking power steering hose, then it’s best to bring it to a mechanic as soon as possible. However, there are some signs you can look out for first if you aren’t sure yet.
Smelly Puddle Under Your Vehicle
If you notice a puddle of fluid that smells like burnt marshmallow under your vehicle, then it might be a sign of a leak in your power steering hose. A leak will cause hydraulic fluid to drip from the tears on the hose.
Hydraulic fluid is usually clear or amber-colored, but it can also turn darker over time and appear reddish-brown, like engine oil. It is also flammable, so be sure to clean it up right away.
Difficulty in Steering
If you find it hard to steer your vehicle, then it might have a power steering hose leak. Because a leak means there’s less hydraulic fluid powering the steering gear, there’s also less power helping you steer. This can be dangerous, especially when you suddenly need to change directions. If your car is idle or you’re driving at a slow speed, you might not even be able to turn the tires at all.
Abnormal Noise From Power Steering Pump
Another sign to look out for is a whining or moaning noise from your steering wheel whenever you make a turn or accelerate. This noise comes from the presence of air bubbles in the pump, which happens when there isn’t enough fluid powering the pump.
This can be an easy fix if the only problem is a low fluid level, where you only need to add more fluid. However, if there is a leak, you’ll have to replace the hose as soon as possible.
Power Steering Hose FAQ
Like other parts in your vehicle, the power steering system can degrade over time. The O-rings and seals become ineffective, and hoses can start to crack or rust. When the internal or external layers of the hose break down, it can turn soft or form bulges. It can no longer effectively absorb pressure surges from the fluid and will start to leak.
Too much fluid in the pump can also cause the seals and valve to collapse. Any faulty component in the steering system can cause a leak, so it’s best to ask your mechanic for a thorough inspection of your vehicle just in case.
While your vehicle can still run with a power steering hose leak, you probably shouldn’t. Driving with this issue can make it harder for you to steer, which can lead to serious traffic accidents. Furthermore, your vehicle’s steering pump constantly runs when your engine is on, and without enough fluid, it can overheat and cause more damage over time. Increased friction can also wear out the pump’s seals, which can make for a pricier repair bill.
It will depend on your vehicle’s make, model, and the product’s brand. In general, however, a power steering hose can cost you anywhere from $10 to $490. Some parts stores have special equipment to repair power steering lines by replacing the rubber hose, but chain parts stores aren’t typically set up to do this.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.