The power steering belt is an important part of the power steering system in your vehicle. The belt can either be a V-belt style or more commonly a serpentine belt. The belt supplies power to the steering, and in some cases the air conditioning compressor and alternator. Over time, the power steering belt may crack, break, become loose, or worn due to constant use. There are a few symptoms to watch out for before the power steering belt completely fails, and renders your vehicle without power steering:
1. Noises coming from the belt
While you are driving, if you notice a squealing, grinding, or chirping noise coming from the front of your car, it could be the power steering belt wearing down. The belt can wear down in many different ways, and a noise coming from the belt is one sign that you should have your power steering belt inspected and replaced by a professional mechanic.
2. Inspect the belt for damages
If you feel comfortable inspecting your power steering belt, you can do so at home. Check for a broken belt, oil contamination, a damaged belt, gravel in the belt, uneven rib wear, rib separation, pilling, and random cracking across the ribs. These are all signs that your power steering belt is failing and needs to be replaced right away. Do not wait because steering is a safety issue and without it, your vehicle will be dangerous to drive.
3. Slipping belt
In addition to making noise, the belt may be slipping. This may cause intermittent power steering especially under demand. This is seen when the belt has stretched and is almost to its failure point. Most commonly this occurs when turning tightly or placing high demands on the power steering system. A slipping belt can cause serious issues since your power steering will intermittently not function causing strange steering problems.
Best left to the professionals
Replacing the power steering belt requires a certain level of mechanical tools and skills. If you are uncertain then this is a job best left to professionals. Furthermore, the tension has to be just right so it is not too tight or too loose on V-belt systems. If the belt is too loose, the power steering will not be as responsive. If the belt is too tight, the steering will be difficult.
If you hear strange noises coming from the front of your vehicle or the power steering belt looks worn, you may need your power steering belt replaced by a trained professional. At the same time, the mechanics will inspect all the components it powers to ensure everything is working correctly.