Power Steering Hose Buyer's Guide
- Power steering hoses transport steering fluid from the power steering pump to the steering gear and back.
- Most power steering systems have two hoses, the high-pressure supply hose that delivers pressurized steering fluid to the steering gear and the low-pressure return hose that moves the fluid back to the pump or reservoir.
- It’s possible to continue operating your car after one of its power steering hoses springs a small leak. However, doing so may put it at risk in the long run, and you shouldn’t drive if there is a large leak.
Lines and hoses run through your car, delivering air and fluids to where they’re needed. In vehicles fitted with hydraulic power steering, steering fluid travels from the steering pump to the steering rack and back through power steering hoses.
While not as fancy as other components, power steering hoses contribute immensely to the power steering system’s effectiveness. By learning more about what they do and the warning signs that they need replacement, you can take care of them better.
What is a power steering hose?
As their name indicates, power steering hoses form a part of the power steering system. They facilitate the movement of fluid between the system’s pump and steering gear, making it easier to control the vehicle no matter the terrain.
These hoses hook the power steering pump up to the steering cylinders that assist with turning the vehicle. Pressurized steering fluid flows from the pump to the steering rack, where it adjusts the rate at which the steering wheel turns.
Aside from its use in power steering lines, they are also used in hydraulics, air, fuel, and lubricating oil applications. It contains resistant fabric cover and a patented synthetic rubber tube and is outfitted with standard steel reusable fittings. A hydraulic pump is driven by a belt from a crankshaft pulley and can provide up to 1,300 psi (8,964kPa) of the "boost" pressure needed to operate the power-steering system.
Supply hoses must withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius and pressures that range from 0 to 115 bar during a cycle. Further, it must handle 30 to 40 cycles per minute for up to 500,000 cycles total. Last but not least, it should hold together after a 20-cycle cold start at -40 degrees Celsius.
Power steering hose types
Most hydraulic power steering systems include at least two hoses. One power steering hose delivers steering fluid under high pressure while its partner handles less pressurized fluid.
High-pressure power steering hose
This hose delivers pressurized oil from the power steering pump to the steering gear. Its role earned it the alternative name of “high-pressure supply hose.”
The high-pressure hose uses a durable, synthetic material. It usually comes with compression hose fittings, often double-flared types for additional sturdiness.
Low-pressure power steering hose
When steering oil needs to leave the steering gear and return to the steering pump or reservoir, the fluid travels through the low-pressure steering hose.
Also called “low-pressure return hoses,” they use tough material that can resist high temperatures. However, they don’t always feature compression fittings. Since steering fluid exerts less pressure on the way back to the pump or reservoir, these hoses don’t need heavy-duty fittings.
Symptoms of a bad or failing power steering pressure hose
Any problem with a power steering hose will make itself known through the rest of the power steering system. Common warning signs include:
Steering fluid leakage
Perhaps the synthetic material that makes up the hose finally wore out from the heat or exposure to steering fluid. Or maybe one too many cycles loosened the fitting.
Whatever the reason for the leak, hydraulic fluid can escape from the power steering hose. Check beneath the hood or underneath the cat itself.
Noises from a bad power steering pump
Power steering hoses serve as the bridge between the pump and the steering rack. Problems that start in the hose can spread to other components connected to it.
If you hear strange noises akin to screeching or whining, you may have a bad power steering pump on top of the faulty hose.
Stiffer steering wheel
The power steering system assists you through hydraulic cylinders that apply extra force on the steering rack whenever you turn the steering wheel. The force comes from pressurized steering fluid pumped through the high-pressure hose.
A leak in the power steering hose reduces the amount and pressure of the hydraulic fluid intended for the steering rack. Without sufficient fluid and pressure, the cylinders cannot apply as much force to the rack as needed.
Can you drive a car with a power steering hose problem?
It’s possible to continue operating your car after one of its power steering hoses develops an issue. However, doing so may put it at risk in the long run.
Old and damaged hoses will almost always spring a leak. The severity of this problem determines if you can make it to the nearest auto repair shop or must call a towing company.
Small leaks will reduce the effectiveness of the power steering system. You can compensate for the performance drop during brief drives, but you must replenish the steering fluid afterward.
In contrast, a large leak can keep the power steering pump from filling up properly. If the pump doesn’t get enough steering fluid, it will malfunction and may break down. The steering gear may also act up and fail. Thus, avoid driving your car if the power steering hose leaks enormous quantities of steering fluid.
How often do you need to replace a power steering hose?
Take care of your vehicle and it will reciprocate. If you diligently adhere to the maintenance schedule detailed in the owner’s manual, the power steering system will usually run smoothly for over 100,000 miles before a hose or another component finally wears out.
The best thing you can do for your car’s power steering system is keeping it clean. Replace the steering fluid at the recommended times to keep contaminants out of the hydraulic system.
How to choose the right power steering hose for your car
Nowadays, cars may have two or three power steering components. These components help drivers by adding energy to the steering mechanism, therefore reducing drivers' steering efforts regardless of the driving conditions they are in. One such component that makes up the power steering system is the power steering hose. Though oftentimes overlooked, power steering hoses play an important role in the power steering system by carrying the power steering fluid from the pump to other steering components.
Power steering hoses, just like other car parts, don't last because they are subject to extreme heat from the engine and other environmental factors. If your car's steering hoses are leaking, you need to replace them pronto. Looking for the right replacement hoses is as easy as 1-2-3, but choosing the right one for your car is very troublesome. If you're in the market for replacement hoses, there are some things that you should consider.
Price vs. Quality
As much as possible, you want to save money when repairing your car. But one thing that you should learn is that price influences quality. The price of power steering hoses range from $20 to $400, and there are many brands to choose from. When looking for the right power steering hoses, always buy from the manufacturers that you trust without sacrificing your budget.
Commercial hose versus fabricated hose
Most power steering hoses on the market adhere to standards set by the automobile industry. These products will satisfy the requirements of most drivers.
However, if you own a customized, high-performance vehicle, you need hoses that can handle extreme pressures and temperatures. Some hose manufacturers offer fabricated power steering hoses that they made according to their customers’ requirements. While these fabricated hosts cost more, they also last longer and deliver the precise performance a custom vehicle needs.
High pressure vs. Low pressure
Power steering hoses come in pairs: high-pressure and low-pressure types. One hose directs power steering fluid from the power steering pump to the steering mechanism. The other hose directs fluid back to the pump. These two hoses work together to give the steering mechanism the right amount of pressure to turn the vehicle. If there's a leak, it's important to check which hose is leaking. Hoses are usually sold individually, so to avoid buying the wrong hose, don't forget to check which hose is causing the leak.
What is the cost of power steering hose replacement parts?
A new power steering hose can cost anywhere between $5 and $531. Usually available as individual hoses, they can also come in sets of 2 or 3, and accompany other power steering parts like pumps and reservoirs in replacement kits.
DIY: Replacing Power Steering Hoses
Power steering hoses are very important. Once they start to leak, they have to be replaced to avoid steering difficulties. This DIY guide will teach you how you can easily replace your car's leaking hoses.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Hose Clamp
- Power Steering Fluid
Step 1: Pop your car's hood. Then, place the container underneath the power steering pump to catch the power steering fluid.
Step 2: Find the two hoses attached to the power steering pump.
Step 3: Unscrew the hose clamp at the back of the pump to release the lower hose by turning the clamp's screw counterclockwise with your flathead screwdriver. Then, pull the hose away from the pump. Don't forget to drain the fluid into the container.
Step 4: Loosen the nut that attaches the upper hose to the pump by turning the wrench counterclockwise. Just like the lower hose, drain the power steering fluid into the container.
Step 5: Remove the hoses from the control valve by using your wrench to turn the nut at the end of each hose.
Step 6: With your wrench, attach the new hoses to the control valve and into the engine bay.
Step 7: Connect the upper hose to the back of the pump by sliding its nut over the valve and turning it in a clockwise direction.
Step 8: To connect the lower hose, slide the hose clamp up to where the hose meets the pump. Then, turn the screw in a clockwise direction using your flathead screwdriver.
Step 9: Fill the pump with power steering fluid up to the recommended fluid mark. Afterwards, start the engine.
Step 10: Turn the steering wheel several times. If the fluid stays between the "Add" and "Full" marks, the new hoses are working perfectly. If not, repeat the steps, and add more fluid if necessary.