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Is Driving Without Power Steering Bad?


Steering systems have improved and are becoming more innovative as the years go by. Nowadays, all modern vehicles have power steering, allowing drivers to turn the wheel easily. When power steering fails, the first concern of any driver is; Is driving without power steering bad?

Without mincing words, Yes. Driving without power steering is bad. Not only is it bad, but it is also potentially illegal.

This article expounds on everything you need to know about power steering and the effects of driving without it.

Everything You Need to Know About Power Steering

With Power steering assistance, a driver’s effort while driving is reduced. Power steering is an advanced kind of steering using electric or hydraulic aid to steer the front wheel. Power steering exists in three main types. They include Hydraulic Power Steering, Electric Power Steering, and Hybrid Power Steering.

While the hydraulic steering uses high-pressure fluid, the electric system uses an electric motor and sensor. Additionally, the hybrid system is a combination of both. It uses the hydraulic assist technology, but a pump driven by an electric motor powers its hydraulic pressure, not the conventional drive belt.


Until the mid-2000s, when the electric power system came to be, many cars used hydraulic steering systems. However, most newer model cars are powered by electric steering and thus do not need conventional power steering.

How Power Steering Works

Power steering fluid facilitates assistance in the hydraulic steering system. Power steering fluid is a hydraulic liquid used to transfer power to the steering system. Hydraulic fluids are usually mineral or synthetic oils blended with additives. They are used to prevent corrosion, suppress foaming, and aid the lubrication of the power steering pump.

For cars with hydraulic power steering, It is essential to check the fluid level regularly and maintain it. There are different types of power steering fluids depending on the vehicle application.

As a norm, a car maintains the fluid level for years, but the fluid level depletes as you use the vehicle constantly. As leaks occur, the fluid slowly reduces, and you run out of it at a point. Leaks cause air to fill the pump, hindering the power steering assist and making an uncomfortable noise.

When the power steering fluid becomes too low, the power steering pump is no longer adequately lubricated. The pump is the part of the steering system that adds pressure to it, enabling a driver to drive without applying force. Lack of steering fluid can cause the pump to overheat, and the bearing will fail.

Moreover, the serpentine belt will not move properly. The belt might even come off entirely, disrupting the engine and causing the alternator and battery to overheat.

Driving Without Power Steering

Physically, you can drive your car without power steering. While you can go without power steering for a few miles, you run the risk of potential failure on the way. It is not safe to drive a car without a power steering assist because it makes it harder for the driver to maneuver. However, if your power steering pump is faulty or has a leak, it is plausible to drive it to auto care for repair. In case of an emergency, driving such a car in a bid to get it off the motorway is also plausible.

The Effects of Driving Without Power Steering

The steering will be tight and difficult to maneuver.

If the design of a vehicle works with power steering, ensure that you do not drive without one. When driving without power steering, you have to put in more effort. The wheel is tough to twirl. If your power steering develops a fault, You are in for a rough driving experience.

Moreover, It is hazardous to speed without the assistance of power steering. Parking can also be tricky.

Your vehicle could become a liability.

Driving without power steering limits the functionality of your car. If you keep this up for an extended period, It could damage your vehicle. Your pump becomes faulty and the belt breaks. In no time, You would end up with more expenses than you bargained for.

You could incur legal issues.

It is against the law to drive a power steering equipped vehicle without power steering in some states. The law exists because driving without power steering increases the chances of getting into an accident and hurting someone

In such a scenario, if the investigation shows that you were driving without power steering, you could get into trouble for negligence. There is a high chance that insurance would not indemnify you for any loss suffered.

How to Check Your Power Steering Fluid Level

Replenishing the power steering fluid of a hydraulic system is not a regular maintenance procedure for most vehicles. Power steering fluid can last for years of service.

Your owner’s manual should let you know the type of power steering fluid appropriate for your car. Using the wrong type can lead to power steering pump failure due to incompatibility issues.


To check the fluid level, you need to first find the power steering pump on your engine. Then, you can locate the fluid reservoir on top of the pump by one side of the engine. Yours could be a remote reservoir located on the inner fender. If you still can’t find it, resort to the car manual to guide you.


Some older model cars do not have power steering. These kinds of vehicles are noticeably tricky to operate. Therefore, driving cars without power steering at moderate speed is advisable to prevent accidents.

Driving an old model vehicle without power steering is different from a car equipped with power steering without steering fluid. The steering racks are easier to operate in vehicles with power steering because of the design. But, ultimately, the consequences of driving without power steering can be lethal. So, don’t do it.

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