Driving a car with manual steering can be physically demanding. That's why, for several decades, car manufacturers have been utilising power steering systems to ease the driving experience. A car’s power steering warning light will turn on when there is a problem with this steering system.
In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into what power steering is, what can cause the power steering warning light to turn on and what you should do if this light illuminates on your car’s dashboard.
What is power steering
To start with the basics, power steering is a feature that makes it easier for drivers to steer their vehicle, particularly when it's moving slowly or stopped. Instead of exerting physical force to turn the wheels, drivers can rely on the power steering system, which leverages hydraulic or electric power to reduce the effort needed.
Traditional power steering systems use a hydraulic pump that moves power steering fluid into specific areas in the steering system. When the steering wheel is turned while the engine is on, the pump assists by filling one of these areas, making it easier to steer the vehicle.
In contrast, Electric Power Steering (EPS) is a newer technology that uses an electric motor to assist in steering. When you turn the steering wheel, the EPS control unit senses the input and provides the appropriate amount of assist. One of the primary benefits of EPS is its efficiency: it only uses power when the steering wheel is turned, and it doesn't require power steering fluid, unlike its hydraulic counterpart.
What causes the power steering warning light
The power steering warning light, often symbolised by a steering wheel icon and an exclamation mark, is a car warning light designed to alert the driver to issues within the power steering system. There are several reasons the power steering warning light could turn on. These are:
Hydraulic power steering systems
Electric power steering systems
Is it safe to drive with the power steering warning light on
Determining whether it’s safe to drive with the power steering warning light on largely depends on the severity of the issue.
In many cases, an illuminated power steering light indicates a significant problem, making the vehicle harder to steer. This can pose a safety risk, particularly at higher speeds or during sharp turns. Therefore, if the power steering warning light illuminates, it is advisable to get it checked by a professional as soon as possible.
Find out what’s causing your power steering warning light to turn on by booking a repair in Caura.
What to do when the power steering warning light turns on
Don’t panic if the power steering warning light turns on.
If you’re driving a vehicle with a hydraulic power steering system, pull over when it’s safe to do so and check if the power steering fluid is low by following these steps:
If the light turns back on, or if you’re driving a vehicle with an electric power steering system, you will need to get your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic. Book a garage near you in Caura.
Will a power steering warning light cause an MOT failure
Yes. If your car's power steering light is illuminated during an MOT test, and the power steering system is indeed malfunctioning, your vehicle will fail the MOT test.
The MOT tester will conduct a comprehensive assessment, including a road test, to detect any potential issues that may affect your power steering's performance.
One such issue is a power steering fluid leak, which is often due to faulty seals, joints, or other components. If your car's reservoir lacks power steering fluid or if there's evidence of fluid leakage, it will result in an MOT failure.
Another common defect that leads to MOT failure involves defective power steering that's apparent during driving. For instance, you might experience uneven steering stiffness (harder to turn in one direction compared to the other) or your vehicle may pull to one side while in motion.
Worried about the power steering warning light? Download Caura and get it checked by vetted mechanics near you, at exclusive pricing!