The steering pump in your truck is critical to low speed turning, and even though it may feel like you don't need it at high speeds, a pump failure and leave you with no steering at any speed. There are some signs that the pump is struggling to do its job or needs repair, but ignoring these signs will not make the problem go away; it is just going to delay the inevitable.
Sometimes a power steering pump that is not working correctly will cause the steering in your truck to jump or stutter when you are turning. The steering will feel like the power assist is there and then isn't repeatedly because the pump pressure is fluctuating and not keeping up with the system's demand.
Sometimes this happens because the power steering fluid is low, so it is good to check it. If the system is not low, there is a more significant issue, and you need to take the truck into a service center to have them go over the power steering pump and other parts in the steering system.
If the fluid level is low in the power steering pump reservoir, you need to determine why. The system is a closed-loop and should not regularly use power steering fluid, so there could be a leak somewhere that needs fixing, and adding more fluid to a leaking system is not a repair.
Loud Groaning or Whining Noises
Power steering pumps often produce loud groaning noises when they are not functioning correctly, and that noise should be a sign that the truck needs serviced. The grain or whine is typically heard as you turn the wheels and the power steering pump is under load, but power steering pumps with a lot of air in the system can make a whine when the vehicle is sitting and idling.
If the power steering is making noise in your truck, take the truck into a service center for service and have them check the system for you. Power steering pumps can fail as the pump impellors wear, and even though there is no leak, the pressure that the pump can provide will be too low to power the steering system correctly and introduce air into the lines that feed the steering box or rack.
Leaking Power Steering Pumps
Power steering pumps typically have a reservoir on them that holds the fluid, and if the lines that connect to the reservoir are leaking or the seal on the reservoir itself is leaking, air can be drawn into the system as fluid is leaking out. Leaks like this are one of the easiest things to repair in the steering system, so if you see a leak near the power steering pump, point it out to your repair tech, and they will resolve the problem for you.
For more information about power steering, contact a local company, like Power Steering Resources.