Power steering intermittent

I started my car this morning. It was nice and warm outside. The power steering didn't seem to be working though. I drove about ten miles, parked, and turned off the engine. An hour later, I started the car back up, and my power steering was working just fine. What would cause power steering to fail, then start functioning an hour later?
Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
Hi there. Your vehicle is equipped with a variable power steering system that is affected by vehicle speed and other inputs, such as how the steering wheel is turned. If it suddenly was not working, it is because one of the sensors was not reading correctly, or there could have been a voltage issue.

It could have also been a fluid issue, but that is not as common. I typically start by scanning the computer for codes to see if anything comes up. If nothing is shown, then it will be hard to diagnose if the issue is not occurring when it is being tested.

The only thing that I have seen that causes this on your vehicle is the steering angle sensor not reading correctly. If you need to have this diagnosed, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to your home or office to diagnose your steering problem.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced mechanics :

Intermittently stiff hydraulic steering

Most recently this problem seems to be caused by aerated power steering fluid or binding steering components. Quickly checking both will identify which is causing the problem.

Improper Fluid Levels

Too much and your valves and seals could collapse under the pressure. Not enough and the fluid can`t exert the force needed to turn your car. Replacing your fluid on time will help prevent this issue, but any leaks can cause a loss of fluid that will ultimately lead to power steering failure.

Unscrew the cap of the power steering pump and check the fluid level. If it`s not full, buy power steering fluid from your local automotive supply store and refill the pump. If you have to add fluid frequently, you may have a leak. Inspect the hoses and lines around the power steering pump for possible leaks.
If the power steering pump pulley starts to fail or intermittently binds, you might notice that your car`s steering will either not respond well when you turn the wheel, or it will respond excessively.
The most common cause of a stiff steering wheel is the lack of enough power steering fluid in the system. This condition can arise if there`s fluid leakage from the pressurized hose area. Refilling the liquid in the power steering tank will fix the problem for the time being, but the leak must be taken care of.
Cause: The power steering pump is not providing sufficient pressure to operate the power steering rack/box correctly at engine idle revs. Most power steering pumps create pressure by forcing the power steering fluid into smaller space using rotating vanes or cylinders.
One of the most common problems power steering systems have is leaks. The high pressure of the system combined with the soft hoses carrying the fluid makes it relatively susceptible to leaks. A low fluid level can cause a whining power steering pump and even a loss of fluid pressure and a loss of steering assistance.
If you are having a hard time turning the steering wheel, something is likely wrong with the power steering system. Low power steering fluid in the reservoir might diminish the power assist and is a sign of a leak. A faulty power steering pump or a worn (or broken) serpentine belt could also be the culprit.
This problem can be fixed on your own, but if you`re not sure how to fix electric power steering problems, take it to a certified mechanic.
A significant drop in power steering fluid

Faulty power steering pumps often cause fluid to leak between the reservoir and the pump itself. However, remember that not all leaks can be associated with a faulty power steering pump.

Sensors attached to the motor measure how much torque, or rotational effort, the driver is applying to the steering wheel. The sensors then use that information to decide how much assistance the driver needs to turn the front wheels. Speed is the greatest factor in determining how much assistance the EPS provides.
This issue with the EPS light can also be caused if you have recently had to jump-start your car, or you`ve disconnected the battery. Occasionally, the problem can be fixed by simply turning your vehicle off and on again.
This is normal for the most part. With the hydraulic power steering, there is an extra load placed on the engine when you turn the steering wheel. The computer tries to pick up the engine speed to compensate for this.
When gas is extremely low, the fuel pump is no longer suspended in liquid and can overheat. In some cases, low fuel can even affect power steering and brakes. While this damage is not likely to occur if you drive with the low gas light on once or twice, you shouldn`t make it a habit.
Now, when it comes to the power steering system, if the alternator fails to supply the vehicle with electrical power, the power steering pump will fail, and you will lose hydraulic pressure needed for assisting in steering. You will also lose many other systems in the vehicle.
This is a serious battery problem if the battery is now swollen and has no power. There has been an obviously internal fault. This will cause the vehicle to power down and the EPS light to come on as well. The EPS light is the warning indicator for the electric power steering.
The sensor sits on the steering pinion. A pole wheel is fitted on the input shaft, which is connected to the steering pinion by means of the torsion bar. When the driver applies torque to the steering wheel, the torsion bar is rotated and, in turn, the magnet relative to the sensor.
Diagnostics on any EPS system should begin by scanning the EPS module for diagnostic trouble codes. For example, a “C-series” code indicates problems within the feedback and electromechanical assist portions of the system.
Electric Power Steering (EPS) is virtually maintenance-free. There is some system that still uses 2 phase DC motors with brushes. Ultimately they wear and need replacing. The EPS needs careful calibration when it comes to its steering angle and or torque sensor.
Electronic failure is when the electrical systems keeping the power steering running stop functioning. This type of failure can be caused by a fuse issue, so you can easily check the fuse box to see if one of the fuses needs replacing.
M-type fuse.
If the pump never whines, or the engine never reacts to the load of the pump, suspect a bad pump or slipping belt. While not a perfect test, it is an indicator of a problem. If the power brakes work, but the power steering does not, disconnect the hydro-boost input and output lines and join them together.
A steering wheel that is hard to turn, or very tight could be a sign that you`re having problems with your rack and pinion. If your gearbox builds up heat, or loses hydraulic pressure from lack of steering fluid, this can be another indicator.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

power steering fluid is leaking
ANSWER : With a power steering fluid leak that big, you certainly should have the vehicle inspected as soon as possible to find the exact cause. Any of the components you listed can be the source of the leak. The power steering pump as well as the rack & pinion steering unit rely on the fluid for lubrication as well as cooling. The whining you hear is from the pump when the fluid runs low or empty. Your issue can be caused by something as simple as a fluid hose right now, but continued ’running dry" of the power steering fluid, can result in damage to both the pump and the rack & pinion unit. If that happens, you can take what may be a repair of a few hundred dollars and turn it into a repair of a couple of thousand dollars.

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had power steering pump replaced but power steering fluid is leaking
ANSWER : This suggests that you may have a leak somewhere else in your power steering system such as one of the hoses or the rack and pinion system. As you may know, the power steering system is a highly pressurized system that can have as much as 300+psi of pressure in the system at times, so it is not uncommon for these types of leaks to happen. If you’d like to get this fixed, I would recommend having an expert from YourMechanic come to your location to diagnose the leak in your power steering system and make the the necessary repairs to fix it.

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Very loud pop when turning sharp left leaking transmission or power steering fluid where steering column meet rack
ANSWER : Hi there. If everything else has already been installed from the donor vehicle then it sounds like the high pressure hose is all that you need to install. The hardest part of doing this is the routing. One thing you may also want to double check is that the donor vehicle and your 2003 Escape have the same rack. There are different models depending on the model and the size of your wheels. You need to install the pressure line first, but if it does not line up then you may have the wrong rack installed. If you would like some assistance installing this hose, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to you to [replace your high pressure steering hose] https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/power-steering-pressure-hose-replacement

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I had a warning message in my 2013 Ford Fusion that the power steering assist failed. I have power steering capability now. Is it safe to drive?
ANSWER : Some 2013 Ford Fusion models are part of a safety recall involving loss of steering assist. Contact your dealer with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or check your VIN number on safercar.gov to verify if this recall applies to your vehicle. Loss of steering assist can be dangerous if you are caught off guard. It would be best to not drive the vehicle. Contact your dealer to have it towed to their location.

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Major Leak of power steering fluid
ANSWER : Hello…it sounds like you have a loose or faulty hose connection. Of course, it is also possible that a coincidental leak developed, for instance in a rusted steel tube on the return side, at the same time that you were doing this repair. A YourMechanic specialist could diagnosis this for you and assist you with the repair of your power steering and inspect your vehicle for leaks.

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Power steering went out completely
ANSWER : Hi there. You might have a blown high pressure hose from the pump to the steering rack. The fluid is getting onto the exhaust system and may pose a fire hazard. I recommend you do not drive the vehicle, for safety reasons, until you have the leak fixed. I recommend you have a mechanic, like one from YourMechanic, inspect your power steering system’s leak to make sure what the cause of the failure is.

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Chrysler 3.8 L. T&C power steering rack and pump replacement.
ANSWER : As you may know, the power steering rack pumps power steering fluid through a series of small reed valves that help to produce hydraulic pressure as the system is pressurized by the pump. This is what allows the power steering system to assist you in steering your car. When either the pump or the rack is not working properly, one or the other can sometimes over compensate for the other to a certain degree, but will eventually be overworked and fail. It sounds like this may have been the case in your situation. I would suggest having a second opinion on the previous mechanic’s work. If you’d like a professional from YourMechanic can come to your home or place of business to properly diagnose and repair your power steering system.

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Power steering pump on 2012 Acura TL needs to be replaced. Due to location a power bar also needs to be replaced. Cost over $3,000. Is this a good price?
ANSWER : Question sent to CS for a quote on replacing the power steering motor, programming, and replacing an electrical component attached to the motor. This is in comparison to a quote that was given for the parts and labor.

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