Can You Drive a Car Without Power Steering?

One of the best things about owning a vehicle is that you have the luxury of going anywhere at any time. But, to enjoy that freedom, you need to take proper care of your car. Some issues with the vehicle systems do not require immediate attention, and you can put them off for some time. However, certain shortcomings need you to take the vehicle to a mechanic for a quick fix. If ignored for an extended period, these issues can pose irreversible harm to your car and your safety. One such system is the power steering of the vehicle. Before we dive into the specific necessities of powering steering, let’s look at what it really is.

Power Steering System

The term ‘power steering’ refers to the system of vehicles that, using power steering fluid, helps you turn the front wheels of your car. The system takes help from the engine to reduce the amount of effort required for turning the wheels. The power steering system is crucial for the proper handling and control of a vehicle. It also allows the driver to change the direction, thus improving the steering response quickly.

Power Steering System

The system was first introduced in a 1951 Chrysler Imperial, which proved to be a huge success. Soon, all the automobile companies adopted the trend, making it an essential vehicle system component.

How Do Power Steering Systems Work?

Power steering systems can be either electric or hydraulic. A hydraulic steering system consists of a hydraulic pump assisted by valves, a pinion system, a rack, a cylinder, and a serpentine belt. The hydraulic pump applies pressure to the vehicle’s hydraulic system using fluid.

How Do Power Steering Systems Work

The fluid moves from the reservoir to the pump when you turn the steering wheel. The pump redirects the fluid towards the rack and into the cylinder. As a result, the piston moves in an opposite direction, creating smooth wheel motion. This helps the driver make the necessary turn.

In contrast, an electric power steering system consists of four components and is entirely electronic. These are the reduction gear, torque sensor, electric motor, and Electric Control Unit (ECU). The ECU detects the amount of force applied to the steering system by determining the steering wheel’s speed, torque, and direction. The ECU computes this data and sends it to the electric motor. The motor then exerts the rest of the force needed to execute the turn.

What Is Power Steering Fluid?

Power steering fluid is the main component of the power steering system. A hydraulic fluid links the front wheels to the steering wheel. Additionally, this fluid also plays an essential role in lubricating the components of the power steering system. It also keeps your vehicles functioning at optimum by preventing corrosion and suppressing foaming. Generally, the fluid is reddish-pink. The old fluid has a darker, brownish color and foamy appearance.

How to Change Power Steering Fluid at Home

If your vehicle only needs a power steering fluid change, do not stress over it. Changing the fluid is a simple task unless it shows signs of serious malfunctions, and you can easily do it at home. It does not require a complex procedure. All you have to do is follow four easy steps, and voila, your vehicle is good to go.

Firstly, you need to locate the fluid reservoir, a small yellow or white container with a black cap. You can find this reservoir under the hood of your car. In some vehicles, it is present on the driver’s side, while in others, You can find it on the passenger’s side. Some vehicles have a dipstick with a minimum and maximum marking on it. This shows the level of fluid in your system.

Remove the cap and wipe the fluid off of the dipstick. Reinstall the dipstick and let it rest for a min. Take out the dipstick and observe the fluid level. Ensure that the fluid sits higher than the “minimum” marking even at low levels.

Add the required amount of fluid to the reservoir until the level rises to “maximum.”

What Happens If You Drive A Car Without Power Steering Fluid?

The primary function of a power steering fluid is to assist in driving by reducing the effort needed to turn the vehicle’s wheels. Driving a car without the power steering fluid would significantly impact the efficiency of the vehicle. For starters, turning the vehicle’s wheels would become extremely difficult, especially while making hard turns. Moreover, actions such as turning into a corner or making turns in places such as streets and gas stations would require too much effort.

How Hard is it to Drive Without Power Steering?

A lot of the older vehicles lack a power steering system. These vehicles, however, are equipped with other mechanisms for making smooth turns. Therefore, using such vehicles does not require too much effort to make a turn. The wheels of such vehicles are geared so that you can quickly turn the steering wheel.

However, the newer vehicles are built so that they require a power steering system to turn the steering wheel. It becomes complicated to make turns with these vehicles without functional power steering.

Can You Turn Without Power Steering?

It is not impossible to take a turn without power steering. You can still drive your vehicle, and the steering system will work just fine. However, prolonged use of a vehicle without power steering can result in severe damage. Vehicles without an integrated power steering system are not affected by this.

Can You Turn Without Power Steering

For vehicles that use a serpentine belt, driving without power steering might seem a bit at the start. Gradually, it becomes more demanding and more complex and, at one point, leaves your vehicle with irreparable damage. The part most affected by it is the pump which can cost you a lot to repair.

Driving a vehicle makes maneuvers and parking difficult and can land you serious issues with the law. If the authorities find out that you have been driving without power steering, you can legally be charged with a penalty.

Moreover, if your vehicle faces damage, the insurance company will not cover the charges if your vehicle does not have power steering. As a result, you should invest some time and money into maintaining your vehicle to avoid future problems.

Signs That Your Power Steering Needs Attention

The most critical components of a power steering system are the pump and the steering hose. The steering hose transports the steering fluid from the reservoir to the pump. The pump, in turn, redirects the fluid to the steering rack and pinion. This provides enough pressure to turn the steering wheel. It also lubricates the components of the system, thus reducing friction.

Some signs indicative of a faulty or failing power steering system include:

Noises While Turning the Wheel

If your vehicle makes noise when you turn the wheel, it can indicate a leak or low fluid level in the power steering system. Nearly all power steering components can be damaged by a fluid leak.

The most common sign of a fluid leak in the system is the reddish fluid dripping from your vehicle. If you have not changed the fluid for a long time, it will have the appearance of engine oil.

Stiff Steering Wheel

A stiff or rigid steering wheel is a sign that your power steering system is failing. It’s one of the most usual early signs of a failing system. It is better to immediately take your vehicle to a mechanic and get the pump fixed in such a case.

Low Fluid Levels

Low fluid levels lead to permanent damage to your vehicle if left untreated for a long time. You must check fluid levels regularly. A drop in the level indicates issues with the steering pump or hose. Therefore, you should immediately take your vehicle to a professional.


It is safe to say that the power steering system is one of the best innovations in automobiles. It has revolutionized the way engines work. This system allows the driver to control the vehicle and drive smoothly efficiently. The best thing about the power steering system is that even if it fails, the vehicle can carry on its functions. This saves people from serious accidents.

However, the power steering system is prone to failure. Even though the failure does no harm instantly, prolonged issues can be harmful. Therefore, you must check fluid levels regularly. Most importantly, take your vehicle to a professional at the first sign of failure in the power steering system. Addressing the issues right away can save you a lot of hassle and money.

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