What Is a Power Steering Pump and Why Is it Important?

One of the most important components of the power steering system is a rotary-vane pump called the power steering pump. It’s located within the power steering system next to the steering gear. It provides the hydraulic power for the power steering system.

How a Power Steering Pump Works

Power steer pump

The pump is powered by a belt and pulley. Inside the pump are rotary vanes that spin and pull hydraulic fluid from the return line. The fluid is then forced into the outlet at a high pressure. The amount of pressure depends on the speed the engine is going at the moment. The faster the engine goes, the more fluid the power steering pump moves. A pressure relief valve lets excess fluid return to the pump.

Why a Broken Power Steering Pump is a Big Deal

The pump is the heart of the power steering system. If it fails, you won't have any hydraulic assist to help you steer. You could still steer the car, but it’ll require a lot of extra effort to turn the wheel. It may be impossible to turn the wheel when your car is going slow enough. If you start to notice the symptoms of a failing power steering pump, don't ignore them. The pump can completely fail on the road and possibly cause an accident. That’s why we strongly recommend diagnosing the issue as soon as you suspect that your power steering pump may be going bad.

How to Diagnose a Bad Power Steering Pump

Replace steer pump

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When you turn the wheel, do you have any of these symptoms of a failing power steering pump?

  • Whining or groaning noise.
  • Intermittent moments where the wheel feels like it won't move.
  • Less power assist than normal.
  • Complete loss of power assist.

If you have any of these symptoms you need to physically inspect your power steering pump. Look for:

  • Low power steering fluid level
  • Leaks where metal lines or rubber hoses attach to the pump or steering box
  • Loose power steering belt or serpentine belt.

Why Use an OEM Replacement Power Steering Pump?

When it comes to replacement car parts, the popular saying “you get what you pay for” rings true. A lot of aftermarket replacement power steering pumps are made with inferior quality materials. Because of that, aftermarket power steering pumps tend to underperform and fail earlier than usual.

OEM replacement power steering pumps are made with the highest quality materials.And they're designed for your exact vehicle. For example, this Subaru power steering pump is designed exclusively for 2005-2009 Legacy and Outback models. That means an OEM pump is expected to perform flawlessly for a long time. In the rare occurrence that it doesn’t, the pump will be covered by warranty (if applicable).

The bottom line is that OEM parts are a much safer bet than aftermarket parts. Find your OEM replacement power steering pump here!