Car driving has become very easy with the help of automatic gear and power steering. By using power steering, the driver needs to steer much lesser than that he would have to do in conventional manual steering. This makes driving a better experience.
The power steering belt is the part of power steering system, which is responsible for driving the hydraulic-fluid pump of the system. In case of the failure of the belt, the power steering system will not function properly and the driver will face quite difficulty in steering.
The power steering belt also drives the alternator and the air conditioner of the vehicle, which makes it more important that the belt functions well. The owner of the vehicle should be concerned about the failure of the power steering belt for the sake of smooth steering experience as well as proper functioning of the alternator and AC .
There are few causes that promote failure of the power steering belt.This article will discuss about the causes of power steering belt failure and the preventions you need to take to be free from the problem.
Causes of Power Steering Belt Failure
Failure of the power steering belt can be due to the following reasons.
Contamination in Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is used to lubricate the entire power steering system. It has functions like keeping the friction between the power steering belt and the pulleys as required. The contaminated fluid may contain dirt and debris which may affect the surface of the belt or chemically react with the belt.
The ultimate result of this problem will be the belt getting worn or the surface may start to tear up in places, causing it to fail eventually. That is why the color of the power steering fluid should always be checked before applying, to find out whether it is contaminated or not.
Wear in the Pulleys
The power steering belt is used to transmit power between the power steering pulleys. The pulleys start to wear as those get old. This may even happen when the pulleys are not regularly cleaned during servicing, or this may happen due to excessive use of the vehicle.
However, when the pulleys wear off, the broken parts of those can actually come in contact with the power steering belt and create small openings on the belt surface. This weakens the belt and leads to the ultimate failure.
Leakage of Fluid
If there is a leakage in the power steering system, then the amount of power steering fluid gets reduced and even the system may completely lack the fluid. Absence of power steering fluid or reduced level of it increases the amount of friction in the system. Also, the pump has to create greater pull, which provides additional tension on the belt. This excessive tension and friction reduce the lifetime of the belt.
The power steering belt of a car generally also drives the alternator and the air conditioner of the car. This makes the best deal with a large amount of load. If the load on this belt gets increased due to any reason up to the unexpected level, the belt might fail in that case.
For example, when the Air Conditioning capacity if the vehicle is somehow modified, that will put some additional load on the belt and promote its failure. Similarly, increasing the electrical load of the vehicle somehow can also indirectly cause the failure of the belt.
Modifying the Steering System
The steering system of a car that comes directly from the factory is designed very carefully. Many factors are considered before designing the system. When a user wants some modification in the steering system, it should only be done by some experts who can design in a similar manner.
Otherwise, improper modification system can damage the belt and even also the other parts of the steering system.
A car is designed to be used under typical driving conditions. A sedan car is generally supposed to be driven on roads only. If such a car is often driven on muddy roads or on hilly tracks, it will require greater pressure to steer the wheels on those places. This can eventually generate a lot of pressure on the belt and cause it to fail instantly.
Also in sands and moisture regions, the entire system of the car has to deal with dryness or in some cases excessive moistures. The steering belt may have to deal with the same, which may sometimes result in its failure.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can the car still be driven if the power steering belt fails?
Ans: Yes, it can. But there will be difficulties during steering. There are no cars that use completely power steering. If the belt or any other component of a power steering system fails or gets damaged, the driver will still be able to drive the car. In this case, the driver will have to apply a greater amount of force to turn the steering wheel.
Q. How long does the steering belt last?
Ans: This depends on the material of the belt and the type of application the vehicle goes through. However, any standard steering belt which is used according to proper design should last somewhat around for 60,000 miles.
Q. Does power steering belt performance affect charging the battery?
Ans: Power steering belt of a car also drives the compressor of the air conditioning system and powers the alternator of the car. So malfunctioning of the power steering belt also affects this equipment of the car as well.
Q. Does the power steering belt require maintenance?
Ans: As part of regular maintenance, the power steering belts should also be cleaned and checked. It the belt has debris on its surface than that should be cleaned. If the belt is dry, the power steering fluid level should be adjusted.
When it starts to tear off or has holes on its surface, it should be considered for replacement.
Power steering belt drives multiple systems of a car. So the overall car performance has a part of the contribution from the power steering belt. Without proper functioning from the power steering belt, the steering of the wheels may become really tough and unpleasant.
The driver may find quite difficulties to steer the vehicle comfortably without the aid of power steering system. So one should really consider and try to prevent the causes of power steering belt failure. This “What causes power steering belt failure?” article will help a car owner to understand the causes and guide him to try preventing the causes.
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