Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot – What Does it Mean?

A common problem that we hear from a lot of car owners is that your power steering gets stiff when hot. We look into this complaint and the possible reasons and solutions to this problem.

A stiff power steering wheel while driving is nothing short of a nightmare on the road. Imagine going on a long drive with your car running smoothly. However, after driving for some time, you observe that your power steering wheel gets stiff as the temperature of the car gauges. 

You are unable to make turns properly, unable to keep the car in the right lane, and it can even result in a dangerous accident. 

As you switch off your car, leaving it idle to cool down a bit, you find that the steering wheel is back to normal. Is there a problem with your steering wheel or your reservoir? Or was it just a fluke? Read on to get the answer.


Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot

What Are the Causes of Stiff Power Steering Getting Hot?

Wear and tear of some internal parts, little or no maintenance, and not regularly servicing your car can often lead to this issue

An issue in your power steering can also damage other parts of your car. Thus, it is essential to know the exact reason behind your power steering getting jammed when the vehicle reaches a high temperature. Below are some of the possible reasons:

Low level of power steering fluid

Lack of sufficient power steering fluid is one of the most frequent causes of this problem with the steering wheel. A fluid leak can result in major problems, including the steering wheel getting stiff with a rise in the temperature. 

Though refilling the fluid can ease the problem for a little time, you should get the leak checked by a professional immediately.


Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot

Problematic Power Steering Pump

A power steering pump works to offer the right amount of pressure for turning the power wheel without making much effort. However, a faulty pump can cause issues in turning the wheel, especially when the vehicle is hot. 

Faulty Steering Rack

Rack and pinion steering racks tend to wear out over time. A faulty steering rack can easily cause a stiff power wheel. As the engine of the vehicle gets warm while driving, the rack will also become hotter, and the stiffness may increase a little as you continue to drive the vehicle.


Also read: What Is Service Variable Effort Steering?


Does Heat Affect Power Steering?

Now, the question is whether heat affects your power steering? The answer is yes. 

Even though you may have a well-functioning car, overheating may cause maintenance issues for your power steering wheel. 

Overheating can cause a coolant leak as well. If your coolant spills on your power steering wheel, it can cause a loss in the wheel’s power steering. If this is the case, you should go to a professional garage immediately to get your car checked out.


Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot

What Causes a Power Steering To Become Stiff?

The absence of sufficient power steering fluid in the vehicle’s system can lead to the stiffness of a power steering wheel. Also, unnecessarily thick power steering fluid can make the fluid lose its ability to lubricate well. 

Well, this can also lead to stiffness of the power steering wheel. In addition, a damaged serpentine belt, faulty power steering pump, and problematic steering rack can cause the issue in the wheel.

How Do You Fix Hard Power Steering?

Here are some effective solutions to repair a hard and stiff power steering wheel:

  • Check for the low levels of the power steering fluid. If the fluid is below the mentioned level, make sure to refill the same. However, this is just a temporary solution, and you need to check with a professional.
  • To check a thickened power steering fluid, flush out the old fluid and replace it with a new and fresh power steering fluid.
  • If there is an issue with a power steering pump, get it repaired right away. A faulty power steering pump will pose more hazards than just a stiff power steering wheel.
  • You may have to go for a steering rack replacement if there is a problem with the rack. This replacement may cost you between $250 to $300.
  • A damaged serpentine belt can also lead to overheating the vehicle and eventually the stiffness of your power steering wheel. Go for a repair or replacement of this serpentine belt as soon as possible if your mechanic asks you to.
  • Bad air pressure in your tires can also lead to issues in your steering wheel. Also, deflated tires or improper pressure in your tires can lead to this problem. Thus, it is advisable to ensure that the tires are inflated as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. 


Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot

Answers to Other Problems of Power Steering

When should you check the power steering fluid in your vehicle?

As per many experts, it is advisable to check the power steering fluid when the vehicle’s engine is still warm. 

If you have not been riding your vehicle for quite some time, let it remain idle for five minutes or so, or you can drive the vehicle for some miles to warm the fluids. 

If you live in a cold country, allow appropriate time to warm up the fluid to get a proper reading.

Is it normal for the power steering fluid to get low?

No, it’s not normal for the power steering fluid to go low unless you haven’t gotten it replaced for a very long time. The power steering fluid can get low due to a leak in the vehicle’s system. The fluid may be escaping through a hose, which may lead to low fluid levels.

Is it bad to drive with low levels of power steering fluids?

Yes, driving around with low levels of power steering fluids in your vehicle can be dangerous. It may cause a stiffened steering wheel, which may make it difficult to turn around the corners.


Power Steering Gets Stiff When Hot

Wrap Up

The power steering system of the vehicle grants enough power to the driver in turning the vehicle in any direction he wants. 

However, overheating may lead to a faulty power steering wheel which may be dangerous for the driver. Thus, it is advisable to get the problem checked by a professional and solve it as soon as possible.

Happy driving!

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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