If you’re having steering issues, your steering wheel is suddenly difficult to control, or you can’t steer at all, the power steering fluid is a likely culprit.
Eventually, the issue could come down to a failing pump – meaning the fluid in your power steering system isn’t pressurized enough, is pressurized at the wrong time, or otherwise doesn’t operate the hydraulic-assisted steering correctly.
When that happens, you’ll want to replace the pump.
The average cost to replace a power steering pump is $300-$500. This includes $100-$200 for the pump itself and $100-$300 in labor for your mechanic. Depending on your vehicle, the total cost can be as low as $200 or as high as $2800.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of power steering pump replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Labor||Power Steering Pump Cost|
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How Much Does Power Steering Pump Replacement Cost?*
The largest price factor for a power steering pump is the cost of labor. However, if you have a luxury or performance car, the part itself could also cost significantly more.
For example, in the chart above, you can see that the range for power steering pumps from a single supplier can be well above 10x in difference. For YourMechanic, the smallest and lowest difference are between a Ford and a Porsche.
So, the make and model of your car impact the total cost of replacing the power steering pump.
The following cost estimates cover 10 popular vehicle models:
|Vehicle||Power Steering Pump Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (March 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Power Steering Pump Replacement Pricing Factors
If you’re replacing your power steering pump, the two most important factors are the make and model of your vehicle and who’s doing the work. These will make up about 90% of the total costs.
For example, if you live in a rural area, chances are, you’ll find cheaper labor. If you have a Porsche or a BMW, you’ll likely find that your parts cost a lot more than the actual labor.
On the other hand, other factors like the cost of your power steering fluid, any other damage to the system, etc., can also impact the total cost of your repair.
Make and Model
The make and model of your vehicle are the most important factor in the cost of parts.
Here, the vehicle you’re driving will impact three price factors. These include the cost of the part, the availability of the part, and your mechanic’s familiarity with the vehicle.
For example, if you drive an extremely common vehicle, the part is likely to be common and there will be plenty of universal or made-to-fit options.
If you have a Ford F150 or another similarly popular vehicle, everyone will have done the repair, will know how much time it takes, and will be able to easily offer a quote because they know what the job entails.
If you own a rare car, say an Infiniti G35, you’ll find that parts are less available. You might pay a premium to have your mechanic order those parts.
You might also pay a premium for your mechanic to do the work, because they don’t know how much time the job will take because they’ve never done it before.
For a steering pump replacement job, which can take 1-5 hours depending on the car, that can be a big deal.
Finally, the make and model of your car directly impact how much work has to be done to take the power steering pump out.
In some cars, it’s extremely accessible. In others, you’ll have to move a lot of other parts out of the way. This all affects eventual costs.
Condition and Brand of the Part
Another cost factor is the condition and brand of the part. For example, if you buy a brand-new original equipment manufacturer power steering pump, you’ll pay top dollar for it. Sometimes that’s the right call, especially if your vehicle is relatively new.
However, you can often save money by choosing aftermarket or made-to-fit parts. These are manufactured to the standard of the manufacturer. Universal parts are made to fit the widest range of vehicles and therefore standards possible and are even cheaper.
Finally, remanufactured parts are used parts that are rebuilt to meet the original standards. You might also choose secondhand parts, although with pumps, which can fail because of leaking seals inside, that’s not always advisable.
Cost of Labor
The cost of labor is another important factor in the total cost of replacing your power steering pump.
For example, for many jobs, labor can cost more than the pump. That’s because it takes an average of 2-3 hours to pull the pump out and put a new one in.
However, depending on your car, you might be able to replace the power steering pump in as little as an hour. So this varies quite a bit by car.
In addition, mechanics rates also vary quite a bit. Nationally, mechanics charge $15-$205 per hour, for an average of $60.
If you go to Valvoline or Firestones or a similar brand, you’ll expect rates to start around $94.99. Plus, you’ll always have to pay shop fees, which are usually 5-15% of the total job.
Therefore, labor costs can be a significant factor.
Finally, there are always small costs related to replacing a power steering pump. E.g., you’re going to need new power steering fluid. That can range in cost from around $6 to upwards of $30 per liter and you need 4 liters (on average).
You might also need new seals, new power steering lines, new valves, or a new reservoir. These are all cheap parts, but costs can add up if you have to replace all of them.
3 Symptoms of a Bad Power Steering Pump
If your power steering pump is starting to go out, you’ll likely notice it’s getting hard to steer.
However, you can spot other symptoms upfront, and sometimes before the steering starts to pull or get too heavy.
If your steering is groaning, whining, screeching, or grinding, it’s time to check the steering assembly. These kinds of noises can come from anywhere in the front end and can come from the steering or the suspension.
E.g., if your tie rods are bad, your car will grind and rattle when steering in one direction. But, if you’re getting screeching and grinding when you accelerate or when you turn in other directions, it’s more likely to be the power steering pump or the belt.
On the other hand, it could also mean that the electrical assistance on your power steering is out – so you might want to check that as well. That, plus a quick fluid check, will usually eventually point to the pump if everything else is fine.
2. Leaking fluid
If you’re leaking power steering fluid, you have an issue. This fluid is reddish brown and might look like rust.
However, this might be a sign of issues in the lines, in the drive shaft, or even the reservoir. Often, it can mean the bearings in the pump are going out or have gone out or that the seals in the pump are going out.
In either case, you’ll have to replace the pump itself to fix the issue.
3. Difficulty Steering
When your power steering pump starts to go bad, you’ll notice the steering wheel gets heavier. Here, you’ll notice it most when de-accelerating or driving slowly.
The worse the pump gets; the harder steering will get. That’s because the pump is unable to maintain the pressure needed for the hydraulics, meaning you’ll be doing more turning the wheel yourself.
That can be significant, and it can be dangerous to drive, especially if you don’t have the muscle to manually turn your car (which most people do not have). If you’re having difficulty steering your car, it is dangerous to drive.
How To Replace a Power Steering Pump: 22 Steps
If you want to replace the power steering pump in your car, you can often do so yourself. In most cases, this job is relatively easy. However, there can be significant differences in how vehicles are put together.
For example, in some cars, you can access the power steering pump without moving anything out of the way. In others, you’ll have to disassemble a large part of the electronics under the hood to reach the pump.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check your engine and owner’s manual upfront to determine what you need and how much work the total job will be.
Things you’ll need:
- Crowfoot wrench set
- Wrench set (usually in mm, but check your vehicle)
- Ratchet and socket set
- Drain pan
- Replacement power steering pump
- Replacement power steering fluid or ATF fluid
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable towels
- Pulley puller (depending on your vehicle; you can normally loan these from an auto parts store, often for free). Get one made for your vehicle if there is one.
- Pulley press (usually available for loan)
- Marker or chalk
- Wheel bearing grease
- Pully alignment tool or a level or metal rod
The first step to replacing a defective pump is to assess where it is in your engine.
In many vehicles, it’s accessible without removing anything else. In others, it is not. This guide assumes the former because this is more common.
However, if you have to move other belts, slide accessories out of the way, etc., you should do that before proceeding.
- Park your car on a flat and level space and set the parking brake. Take the key out of the ignition. Then, disconnect the negative battery cable and tuck it out of the way.
- Remove the cover from the pump if there is one. This normally comes out with a few bolts.
- Slide a drain pan under the steering rack. Pull the drain plug and drain the power steering fluid.
- Loosen the idler pulley. Then, remove the fan belt.
- Slide the power steering belt off. This might require using a ratchet to loosen the pulley. In addition, you might need a pulley puller.
- Remove the serpentine belt.
- Remove the accessory belt (usually air conditioning).
- Disconnect the power steering pressure and return hoses. These normally clip on. However, yours might have clamps with flat screwdrivers. They might also bolt on. In most cases, you can remove the first with a pair of pliers and the second with a crowfoot wrench.
- Disconnect the power clip from the pump. This should snap off.
- Remove the pulley bolts using a wrench and puller. You might want to mark them and the setting with a marker or chalk, so they are easier to put back in.
- Remove the bolts connecting the pump and remove it.
- Put the old reservoir on the new pump unless you’re replacing both.
- Put the new power steering pump into place and bolt it into place.
- Attach the pressure hose and seal it.
- Put the power steering pulley back on.
- Take the pulley press and screw the hub press on the through bolt for the pulley. Grease the pulley and the hub pump. Then, place the pulley on the pump. Attach the bolt. Then, tighten the hub press against the pulley until the pulley is aligned with the other equipment and./or your marks. From there, all you have to do is remove the hub press and through bolt.
- Use a flat and straight bar or wood to adjust the pulley until it’s in line with the crank shaft. If you made markings earlier, this will be easier. The pulley should be in line with the crankshaft pulley.
- Flush the pump with 1 or more quarts of appropriate fluid (power steering or ATF depending on your vehicle).
- Attach the return hose to the pump.
- Fill the fluid reservoir.
- If you removed a power steering pump cover or plenum, put it back.
- Run your engine and see if there are leaks.
Most people also prefer to test the system and possibly flush it before actually replacing the pump. However, likely, at this stage you’ve already done that.
If you still have questions, these answers should help you with replacing your power steering pump.
How long does it take to replace steering pump?
Normally, it takes 2-3 hours to replace the steering pump.
However, depending on your car, the job could be done in as little as 1 hour or as many as 5.
Can I drive with a bad power steering pump?
Normally you can. However, if the power steering pump has completely failed, you cannot.
In addition, it’s dangerous to drive with a bad power steering pump.
How often do you replace your power steering pump?
Most power steering pumps will last for 5-10 years, often for the lifetime of the car. Normally, you should expect at least 100,000-150,000 miles out of the pump.
If the pump fails more quickly, there’s likely something else wrong with the system or a manufacturer’s fault in the system.
Can a bad steering pump cause car not to start?
If your pump has seized up, it will cause the power steering belt to seize up.
This, in turn, can block the timing belt – causing your engine to seize up. While this case is unlikely, it can happen, because you’re using hydraulics and a belt-driven pump.
Replacing a power steering pump will normally cost around $300-$500.
Normally, that includes $100-$300 for the part and 2-3 hours of labor for your mechanic.
However, depending on your vehicle, the total cost can go up to over $2,000.
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