Easing Steering Problems

By: Evander Klum

Driving an Acura is an exhilarating experience, owners attest. Contributing significantly to this driving ease is the Acura power steering pump -- a vane-style pump driven by a belt off the engine. This pump basically generates high pressures to make driving more comfortable.

How does an Acura power steering pump work? As mentioned earlier, it contains a set of retractable vanes that spin inside an oval chamber. As they spin, the vanes pull hydraulic fluid from the return line at low pressure, and force it into the outlet at high pressure. The amount of flow provided by the pump depends on the car's engine speed. A well-designed pump enables adequate flow when the engine is idling. As a result, the pump moves fluidly when the engine is running at faster speeds. There are times when the pressure gets over the limit, especially at high engine speeds when excessive fluid is being pumped. To address this problem, the engineers included a pressure-relief valve inside the pump. A fluid reservoir (specialized power steering or automatic transmission fluid) is mounted either remotely or on the pump itself.

Among the most common warning signs of Acura power steering problems are, namely: laborious steering, erratic power steering assist, a loud whining sound from the pump, frequent stopping off the fluid reservoir, and a clattery pump drive belt. When an Acura power steering pump fails, it is usually due to leakage, either internal or external. Internal leaks are hard to detect, but they manifest themselves through groaning noises and "flat spots" in the steering assist. External leaks are characterized by streams of brown or pinkish fluid somewhere at the back of of Acura power steering pump, and so, are much easier to find.

There are different ways of keeping an in top shape. When turning the steering wheel, never hold the steering wheel in the extreme right or left position for more than a few seconds because this could damage the pump. Moreover, it is wise to check the power steering fluid level at every oil change. While doing this, a routine check on the tightness of the power steering drive belt is also advised. To ensure comfortable driving, Acura's power steering pump maintenance is a must.

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