New Power Steering Pump Still Hard To Turn [9 Easy Fixes]

The main reasons behind the new power steering pump still hard are reduced pressure in hydraulic lines, low level of steering fluid, contaminated steering fluid, bad steering box, formation of air bubbles, bad steering pump, damaged steering rack, broken serpentine, and uneven tire pressure.

Keep reading this article to find out more about these issues in detail and learn how you can fix them. You’ll also learn the correct way to install a new power steering pump in this guide. Let’s dive in!

new power steering pump still hard to turn

New Power Steering Pump Still Hard To Turn [9 Easy Fixes]

If you replaced a faulty steering pump and still wondering why is my power steering hard to turn, you’ll find the answer in this section. Here are the most common reasons behind it:

Note: You can also read how to turn off Power Steering.

1. Reduced Pressure In Hydraulic Lines

When you change the steering pump in your vehicle, a common effect of it is that the pressure in the hydraulic lines will be reduced. That’ll make it difficult to turn your car.

Solution:

If reduced pressure in the hydraulic lines, the good thing is that it won’t cost you money to fix it. You just have to wait it out and it can take a few weeks for the pressure to get back to normal.

The downside here is that there’s no easy fix if it happens. Your car will eventually run smoother with time and get better every day. But if your car is hard to turn even after a few weeks, you need to keep troubleshooting the issue as it can also be caused by many other reasons.

2. Low Level Of Steering Fluid

It’s obvious that your car will be hard to run if you’re running low on steering fluid. It’s normal for a car to have low steering fluid if it has been some time since you last added it.

But if you’ve recently added steering fluid to your car and it’s still low on it, you have a leak somewhere in your car. More often than not, one of the hoses will leak and cause the steering fluid level to drop.

steering fluid level

Solution:

Check the steering fluid level with a dipstick. If it’s low on it and it’s been a long time since you last changed it, you need to drain the existing steering fluid first. Then, add a new steering fluid that’s compatible with your car and that should solve your issue.

But if it hasn’t been long since the last time you changed your steering fluid and it’s still low, you need to identify the leak and seal it to keep the problem from appearing again and again.

3. Contaminated Steering Fluid

Only checking the level of your steering fluid isn’t enough to rule out that there are issues with your steering fluid. The quality of steering fluid is just as important as its quantity.

If your steering fluid has been sitting in the reservoir for too long and it has been a long time since the last refill, it can become contaminated and too thick. It’ll also appear to be much darker in color.

good or bad fluid

Steering fluid is directly transferred to the steering rack when you turn your vehicle. When it becomes too thick, it loses its mobility and that makes it harder to turn. The color of the fluid will become dark when it’s damaged.

Solution:

If this is the case with your vehicle and your steering fluid has become too thick, you need to flush it out first. After that, refill your vehicle with the right steering fluid for it.

As a precaution to avoid this problem in the future, check out your owner’s manual to find out the recommended interval for you to change the steering fluid. Keep changing your steering fluid at those intervals to prevent it from becoming too thick and making it hard to turn your car.

4. Bad Steering Box

If the steering wheel is hard to turn power steering fluid is full, you may have a bad steering box. The steering box can wear out with time and cause your vehicle to turn easily on one side and have difficulty in turning to the other one.

good or bad  steering box

A common indicator of a bad steering box is if you hear a grinding noise from the vehicle. The lack of proper lubrication of the steering box leads to metal-on-metal contact and damages the steering box in the long run.

The sound will be hard to miss when you hit a bump and turn your car at the same time. You can also tell if you have a bad steering box if you can smell a strong aroma of burnt oil.

Solution:

You need to replace the steering box of your car when it goes bad. Follow these steps to do it:

  • Turn off the engine and wait for it to cool down.
  • Remove the lower shroud of the radiator fan.
  • Place a can below the lines of the power steering box as they’ll leak fluid when you disconnect them.
  • Disconnect the lines to the power steering box.
  • Remove the bolt on the coupler to the steering linkage using a torque wrench.
  • Loosen and remove the nut holding the pitman arm to the steering box.
  • Use a pitman arm puller to remove it from the steering box.
  • Remove the mounting bolts on the steering box so that the steering box becomes loose.
  • Once the steering box is loose, you can easily pull it out from the steering linkage.
  • Install the new steering box to the frame rail and follow the previous steps in reverse order to complete the installation.

You’ll most likely be running low on steering fluid because of the leakage when you disconnect the lines. Make sure that you refill the steering fluid adding a little at a time until the dipstick shows that it’s full.

Following these steps in the right order should get rid of the new power steering pump hard to turn wheel problem that you’ve been facing if a bad steering box has been causing this issue.

5. Formation Of Air Bubbles

If you’re still wondering why is my power steering hard to turn, it could be because of air bubbles. They could have formed when you were changing the power steering pump and caused this issue.

Solution:

Doing a power steering fluid flush can solve this issue. Have two of your friends come over and follow these steps to drain the steering fluid in your car:

  • Turn off the engine and make sure it’s cold.
  • Jack up the front of the car and put it in jack stands so that you have the ability to turn the front wheels of the car left and right.
  • Insert a piece of cardboard on top of the alternator to keep the steering fluid from dripping into it.
  • Take out the hose attached to the bottom of the fluid reservoir.
  • Cap that port using a vacuum port-type rubber cap to keep the fluid from pouring out.
  • Point the hose you just removed to a drain pan.
  • Make your first friend hold the hose above the pan and keep his thumb at the end of the hose.
  • Have the other friend ready with new bottles of power steering fluid to put into the reservoir.
  • Get in the car and start the engine.
  • The first friend should remove his finger and the fluid will start to drop into the pan.
  • Keep turning the engine left and right continuously.
  • The other friend will start pouring new fluid into the reservoir when the level drops.
  • When the friend working on the pan sees new fluid drop into the pan, you can stop the engine.
  • Put the hose back onto the reservoir and top it off with new fluid until you reach the full mark on the dipstick.

What could go wrong in this process? If the guy that’s pouring the steering fluid sees that the reservoir has gotten too dry and he can’t pour the fluid fast enough, ask him to inform you about it beforehand. The engine should never run dry. Turn off the engine, add steering fluid and start again if it happens.

Another thing that could go wrong is that the fluid can leak on top of or into your alternator. Spray some WD-40 to clean it and rinse it with hose water. Drive your car for a few minutes after that and check the level of fluid. Top it off back to the full mark if needed.

6. Bad Steering Pump

Are you still wondering why is my power steering pump not working properly even after replacing your steering pump? The most important thing to consider here is why did you change your steering pump in the first place.

If you had proper evidence to confirm that you had a bad steering pump, did that problem go away after you changed that? Clearly not as your steering wheel is still hard to turn.

You’ve changed it for a reason. If you hear your new power steering pump whining, then you’ve either messed up the installation process of the pump, or your new pump is bad as well.

How to tell when your power steering pump is going out or bad? A bad steering pump will not completely lock the wheel but you’ll need much more force to steer it than usual. It can cause a lot of trouble when you try to take a sharp turn during an emergency situation.

If the power steering makes a whining or grinding noise during sharp turns, that’s your cue to know that the power steering has gone bad. And if the noise stays, then the new power steering pump you installed is also malfunctioning.

Solution:

If you can conclude that your new power steering pump is also bad, first check the connection of the steering pump connectors. If they’re left loose during the installation process, that can cause your steering pump to fail. Tighten them if that is the case.

But if you can conclude that your new power steering pump is the culprit and it has also gone bad and the other components are okay, you need to replace it again. A new power steering pump usually lasts for a few thousand miles but it can also fail early in some cases.

How To Install New Power Steering Pump Correctly

You may be thinking is a power steering pump hard to change and can you do it on your own? It is an easy process and you can do it on your own if you have some basic know-how of working on car parts. Follow these steps to replace the steering pump in your car:

  • Turn off the engine and wait for it to cool down.
  • Unscrew the clamps on the plenum and pull it out.
  • Loosen the idler pulley so that you can take off the serpentine belt.
  • The belt will become loose and you can easily slip it off.
  • Take a pair of pliers and pull off the return line to the feeder.
  • Then, take off the higher pressure line at the bottom.
  • Remove the bolts that hold the pump onto the engine.
  • Pull the pump assembly from your engine.
  • Put the reservoir of the old pump on top of your new pump.
  • Insert the new pump assembly in place of the new one.
pump assembly

Reverse the steps to complete the installation of the new power steering pump. What to do after replacing power steering pump? Fill up the reservoir with fluid and make sure that it’s at the “full” line. You’ll no longer find your power steering hard to turn if your pump and other parts are okay.

7. Damaged Steering Rack

The steering rack is an integral part of your car that connects the steering wheel to the mechanisms of turning the wheel in the direction you want to drive in. It’s connected to the steering wheel using a series of U-joints and shafts. They wear out when you drive the car over a long period.

The common sign of a failing steering rack is that the car will be difficult to turn at first but it’ll get easier as you keep on driving it. That’s because the steering rack keeps getting warmed up by the running engine and has more time to let the steering fluid settle in.

Solution:

Driving with a bad steering rack is possible but it’ll only exacerbate the problem in the long run. You should replace the steering rack ASAP to drive your car smoothly and prevent yourself and others from an accident.

It can cost you anywhere between $800 to $1200 to replace the steering rack in your car. The labor cost will run you close to $350 depending on where you live. If you have experience in working with car parts, you can follow these steps to replace the steering rack yourself:

  • Loosen the bolts that hold the tie rods.
  • Knock the tie rod off by tapping it with a heavy object.
  • Unscrew the tie rod from the rack assembly.
  • Repeat the same thing on the other side.
  • Remove the stabilizer bolts on the torsion bar.
  • Unbolt it from the frame.
  • Slip the torsion backward so that you can create enough space to get the rack off.
  • Remove the nuts and bolts that hold the power steering rack to the frame of the car.
  • Disconnect the power steering lines.
  • Push the rubber put up so that you can access the pinch bolt.
  • Take off the pinch bolt so that you can remove the rack.
  • Wiggle the tie rod assembly and get it out.
  • Measure how far the bolt is on your old tie rod.
  • Take off the bolt and put it in the new tie rod assembly at the same distance.
  • Slide the new assembly back on with the new steering rack.

Once you’ve put in the new rod assembly, do the above steps in reverse to complete the installation. It’s still a good idea to go to a front-end shop to make sure that the front-end aligns perfectly.

8. Broken Serpentine Belt

The serpentine belt puts creates the right amount of tension so that several engine components including the power steering pump can function well. It rotates constantly when the car is running to achieve that result.

serpentine belt

But the belt can get cracked and wear out with time. When the belt goes bad, it becomes loose and loses its ability to create enough tension. Your steering wheel becomes hard to turn because of that.

Fortunately, you can easily diagnose a broken serpentine belt as there will be visible cracks on it. You’ll notice cracks around the ribs of the belt or glazing or shiny spots in the belt when it gets damaged.

If you’re having a tough time figuring out whether your drive belt is worn-out or not by looking at it, you can also invest in a tool called belt wear gauge. You’ll know how much wear your timing belt has gone through when you set it on the ribbed portion.

Solution:

If you delay in addressing a bad serpentine belt, you run the risk of damaging your alternator, compressor, and other vital components. So, get the serpentine belt replaced as soon as possible. You can have it replaced for less than $150 for most vehicles including labor charges.

9. Uneven Tire Pressure

The tires in your car must be inflated to the right level so that it’s easier to drive and turn your car. If the tires aren’t inflated well, they’ll have low air pressure and cause difficulty in turning the car.

Solution:

Check the air pressure in your tires using a gauge. Before doing that, refer to your owner’s manual to know the optimum tire pressure for your vehicle. If the tire pressure is way off, inflate or deflate it so that it can be close to the ideal tire pressure for your car. Doing that should solve your problem.

FAQs:

Can a failing pump cause the steering wheel hard to turn right but not left?

A failing steering pump will make it difficult to turn the car both ways and not just one way. If it’s hard to turn your car in one direction, it’s caused by other issues like steering fluid leakage or improper alignment.

How to bleed power steering without a vacuum pump?

Jack up the car, start it and turn the wheels fully to the left, and shut it off until all the bubbles are gone. Do the same thing again but turn the wheels to the right this time.

How often do power steering pumps go out?

Just like other engine components, power steering pumps gradually go bad with time. They generally last for 100,000 miles on average before they undergo a significant level of deterioration and need replacement. 

Why is the new power steering pump hard to turn at idle?

The new power steering pump isn’t creating enough pressure to pump the steering fluid to the rack and pinion. That’s why it’s hard to turn your vehicle at idle.

Conclusion

It’s annoying when the steering wheel is hard to turn. And it becomes doubly so if you replaced the power steering and find that the new power steering pump still hard to turn even after the change. But now you know all the major reasons behind it after completing this guide.

We hope you’ll be able to determine the specific problem that is making your car difficult to turn even after replacing the steering pump. Leave a comment below if you have any more questions about power steering.

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