Audi is known for its steering systems designed to offer the driver precision steering that is firm yet sporty. Despite this fact, it is possible to experience issues with your Audi’s power steering over time. One of the most common issues is the steering pump, but your steering rack and serpentine belt can also suffer damage as your car ages. Here we look at the possible issues with your power steering and the signs something might be interfering with steering performance.
The Importance of Steering Fluid
Steering fluid is responsible for transmitting power in power steering. It circulates in the system allowing the gears to move smoothly and reduces the effort needed when turning the wheel. Unfortunately, dirt, and debris and overall operation can contaminate the fluid. It is recommended you change the steering fluid every 30,000 miles or so to help your pump function efficiently.
Steering Pump Issues
If you find when taking corners your steering isn’t responding as expected, there could be an issue with your steering pump. If it is the pump, there’s a good chance you are also hearing a whining noise when you turn the wheel and a squealing sound when you first start your car. The squealing could mean things are getting worse as often it indicates the pump issue has led to a slipped belt.
However, once the noises shift to groaning it means your pump is failing, and your entire steering rack and lines will need to be replaced. When these parts don’t get enough liquid from the pump, the damage can be quite bad. Your best bet is to schedule an appointment with your auto repair service shop as soon as you hear odd noises or feel you don’t have as much control over the wheel. Often it is a leak in the pump, but it could also just be that your fluid level is low. Just remember, although the noises and stiffness might seem nothing more than an inconvenience, a malfunction of the pump can greatly interfere with your ability to react properly. This can increase your risk of accidents.
As mentioned, issues with your pump can lead to issues with your steering rack. It is connected to the wheel with shafts and U-joints which can be damaged over time. If the wheel is stiff when you first start driving, this is a sign the issue is the steering rack. Even if it becomes more comfortable once you start driving, it’s still an issue. As you drive, your engine heats up which is allowing more lubricant to settle which frees the wheel up a bit. As soon as you notice the wheel is getting stiff, visit your auto shop so they can make the proper repairs before the rack completely deteriorates.
Tire Pressure Issues
Not all steering issues are related directly to your power steering. A good example of this is when you don’t have proper air pressure in your tires. There is a reason that Audi and all car manufacturers provide a recommended tire pressure. When tires deflate over time, it can lead to all kinds of issues including stiffening of your steering wheel. Uneven tire pressure can also cause steering issues.
Bad tire pressure can even affect your front-end alignment, due to uneven wear. This interferes with how your steering handles. You might feel a slight pulling to the side when you drive or find it difficult to take turns effectively. This is all due to uneven tire treads that can develop due to poor tire pressure. Regular checks of your tire pressure can keep your steering in tip-top condition.
Damaged Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt contributes to the operation of many aspects of your car, including your power steering pump. Because the serpentine belt is in such high demand, it is more prone to damage. If the belt is damaged or worn, you can feel stiffness in your steering. This requires immediate attention as once the serpentine belt breaks your entire steering system is done for, your AC stops working, and your engine will soon overheat. Your serpentine belt is checked at regular maintenance appointments as there is a lot riding on its performance. However, as soon as you experience stiffness in your steering, make a beeline to your auto repair shop to have the steering and serpentine belt checked.
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