In order to operate properly, your car’s power steering system needs to maintain the right amount of pressure at all times. The pressure control valve (also called a flow control valve) creates the pressure, but the system needs a way to monitor the amount of pressure at all times. This is done by the power steering pressure switch.
Your car’s power steering pressure switch monitors the amount of pressure in the system, and communicates that information to the car’s computer. If it notices a drop in pressure, the car’s computer may turn on a warning light in the dash. The switch also plays a role in regulating pressure, as the information it relays can be used to modulate pressure if it becomes too high (which could damage the hoses, pump or rack).
The power steering pressure switch is electronic, but it is also exposed directly to caustic power steering fluid. Over time, the combination of exposure to chemicals and high temperatures can make the switch fail. When this happens, you may experience a number of different symptoms, ranging from a loss of power steering assist to the Power Steering Light coming on in the dash.
There is no expected lifespan for the pressure switch, and it is active any time the ignition is turned on. While you will still have manual steering capabilities if the switch fails, there are other potential problems that could arise. It’s important to know a few of the signs and symptoms that might indicate a failing or failed pressures switch. These include:
- Power Steering Light on in the dash
- Loss of power steering assist
- Intermittent power steering assist
- Leaking power steering fluid from behind the pressure switch (gasket failure)
If you experience any of these problems, it’s important to have the issue diagnosed and repaired. A certified mechanic can inspect the vehicle switch and make any needed repairs or replacements to power steering pressure switch if necessary.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Power Steering Pressure Switch Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.