Car Squeals When Turning - What Should I Do?

If you notice that your car squeals when turning, you probably have a problem with your power steering system. It could be caused by three things -  low power steering fluid, a worn or loose belt, or a failing power steering pump. Your power steering system helps you to control the wheels while you are steering by using hydraulic or electric actuators (a type of small motor). Check your owner's manual to see which type your car is equipped with.  If your vehicle has a hydraulic system, a belt connected to the engine powers a hydraulic pump. This pump sends fluid to a cylinder which helps you turn the steering wheel. If your vehicle has an electric system (which is common in newer vehicles), an electric motor helps you turn the wheel. If your power steering isn't working, then turning the wheel, especially at lower speeds, becomes very difficult. If you are not sure about what is causing the squealing noise, contact us for a professional assessment.

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Car Squeals When Turning - Possible Causes

1. Power Steering Fluid Is Low - One possible cause of the squealing noise when you turn is that your steering fluid is low. Your fluid may be low because of a leak. You can check for a leak by looking under your vehicle for any signs of red or pink fluid. This is the typical colour of most power steering fluids.
Solution - Check the level of your power steering fluid. If it is low, top it up. Checking the level is a relatively simple task that can be done in a few minutes. If you have never done it before, follow the simple steps outlined in the following video.

If you suspect that you have a leak in your power steering system you can try to seal the leak by adding a power steering stop leak product. This is a liquid added to the power steering reservoir. It will enter the system and seal any small leaks that you may have. It is a relatively inexpensive and easy fix which could solve your problem in a few minutes and for less than $20. For larger leaks, you may need to take your vehicle to a reliable mechanic.

2. Worn Belt - Another cause of squealing when you turn could be a worn or slipping belt. If your power steering belt is worn it may slip. This can affect the fluid pressure on the steering pump. If your belt actually snaps you will find that steering becomes very difficult. This is because your steering pump cannot function without the belt.
Solution - If your belt is slipping it may need to be tightened. If it is worn or splitting, then it probably will need to be replaced. Depending on the make of vehicle, this repair will probably cost between $100 - $150. It is recommended that you have your belts inspected every 6 months or 6,000 km to make sure they are in top notch condition.

3. Power Steering Pump Is Failing - A final cause of a loud squeal when you are trying to turn could be a failed power steering pump. As the seals and other parts of the power steering pump wear over time, it will be unable to maintain a consistent fluid pressure. As with a worn or slipping belt, if the pump begins to fail, you will notice that the steering will become very heavy.
Solution - A worn or failing pump will need to be replaced. Replacing a pump is a more complicated and costly repair. Depending on your vehicle it can cost anywhere from $300 - over $1,000. The time it takes to do the replacement will also depend on the type of vehicle. If you are too busy to wait, use our free shuttle service.

It is important to have your power steering system checked out and serviced on a regular basis. If your power steering fails while you are driving, it can be a hassle and very unsafe. You can have your power steering system checked out at Hansma Automotive. We have been servicing the Kitchener/Waterloo area since 1987. You can find us at 88 Shoemaker Street in Kitchener, Ontario.

Sources
Squealing Noise When Steering Wheel Is Turned
Don't Ignore a Squealing Noise From The Steering
Why Is There Noise When Turning My Steering Wheel?

Posted on June 6, 2016 .