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Matt, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Volvo
Satisfied Customers: 23197
Experience:  BEng hons Mech engineering, in auto industry 22 years
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Power steering stiff, not all the time just every so often.

Customer Question

Power steering stiff, not all the time just every so often. Tyres ok, fluid ok, belt looks ok. Ideas? What is most likely?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Volvo
Expert:  Matt replied 1 year ago.


1st check that the tyre pressures are correct to those stated in the manual / on the door jamb sticker,

if the steering is only heavy in 1 direction then I'd 1st check out the suspension joints
to 1st check the strut bearing then lightly hold the spring by hand and have your assistant move the steering from left to right with the wheel on the ground - a worn bearing will feel 'notchy' through the spring. The wheel needs to be on the ground for the test to load up the bearing
If this is OK then next check the steering joints by jacking up the car so both front wheels are off the ground and with the keys in the ignition ( to disable the steering lock) but the engine off move the road wheels from lock to lock by hand
the effort should be the same in both directions
if its not then I'd disconnect the track rod end ( steering joint) from one side to see if this helps
if the wheel then moves freely you know its not the strut mount or ball-joint on that side
repeat the exercise on the other side
if the suspension joints are all OK then try moving the steering wheel from lock to lock (this is with either the steering joints disconnected at the wheel end or at least the wheels off the ground and engine off) and confirm that the steering rack moves smoothly from lock to lock

if its tight throughout the movement this could be a faulty steering rack or a seized strut top bearing
if you've been getting any strange clonking or 'boings' from the front suspension this points to a worn strut top

if there are tight patches of movement then its likely that a steering column universal joint is seizing up

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's power steering!!
Most likely cause is loss of fluid, fluid deterioration, pump on way out, belts damaged or slipping. I am a retired doctor, nog a mechanic so s waste of 24 quid in my opinion. Good luck with your day job!
Expert:  Matt replied 1 year ago.


yes these are all things which should also be checked however what I'm suggesting should also not be neglected, plus you said that you had already checked the belt condition & fluid level ?

if the power steering fluid is in good condition and not black and the belt isn't slipping then I'd suggest to check what I've suggested next as they are all a lot cheaper than a replacement pump

if all the joints are OK then yes the pump should be repalced