There are a few things you can check when it comes to steering.
Each wheel, especially the front wheels, have to be balanced so that no vibration occurs. This is usually done on a machine which spins the wheel and detects any imbalance in the wheel/tyre. Small lead weights are then added at the appropriate places to counter the imbalance so that the wheel spins smoothly.
Signs that your wheels may need balancing are vibrations through your steering wheel at certain speeds. Note a constant vibration at all speeds could be more serious than just a balance problem. Due to the need of a machine then it is best to take your car to a tyre center or garage that performs wheel balancing. It is usually inexpensive and can even be part of the service when buying new tyres for your car.
The alignment of the wheels is important to stop uneven tread wear and improve handling of the car. Signs that you need the wheels aligning are partially scrubbed tyres or wear lines where only a portion of your tyres tread has been worn away. Alignment lines the wheels up so that they are both parallel to each other +/- the required angle as stipulated by the manufacturer.
As with alignment the wheels must be at the correct angle from the ground as stipulated by the manufacturer. The angle from 90° is called towing and can be IN or OUT.
Balancing, tracking/alignment are all needed to ensure good road handling, even tyre wear and smooth motoring.
Checking for wear.
Under normal circumstances your car should drive straight but the car will tend to follow the camber of the road.(ie pull to the kerb because of the drainage slant of the road.) If your car pulls unnaturally to one side of the other then you need to check all of the above but it can be due to accident damage. The distance from the center of the back wheel to the center of the front wheel should be exactly the same on both sides of the car. If it is not then it is probably due to an impact pushing one of the wheels back. Small descrepancies can be sorted with adjustment but larger ones can indicate suspension/chassis damage.
Normal wear and tear will eventually cause sloppy steering. to test this turn the wheel quickly from side to side.The steering should feel constant without gaps. make sure that the tyres turn for every touch of the steering wheel and there are no knocking noises or lack of movement.
Lack of movement or knocking noises usually means a worn steering rack and might need replacement. If you have power steering then perform these tests with the engine running. Check for fluid leaks and excessive noise when turning your steering to eithrt full lock.
If you find any leaks, have your car inspected by a mechanic - if the power steering starts leaking, it will stop working soon. If the car has rack & pinion type steering mechanism , try to check both of steering boots they should not be damaged. If any of them has some damage, it has to be replaced - have your car inspected.
The power steering fluid reservoir usually has a small dipstick underneath the cap. Check this level as with any dipstick and replace fluid as necessary. Do not fill unless fluid is below minimum. The need to fill the reservoir is unusual and if the oil drops below the minimum level more than twice a year then you should have it checked by a qualified mechanic. Low reveler levels can cause damage to your power steering and is usually accompanied by a low grinding noise when fully turning the steering wheel at slow speedsTips: Check the fluid level and the power steering belt if you hear a squeal when you turn the wheel all the way to one side. Take the car into a mechanic if the steering is stiff. Keep in mind that although drifting or shuddering may signal problems with the steering system, these symptoms may also relate to the car's tires, suspension, brakes or other front-end problems
Warnings: Power steering fluid does not get "used up" - other than a leak, there's no reason that the fluid should be low. Fill the reservoir to the proper level and check frequently if you find it low. If it continues to be low, check for leaks and go see your mechanic. An empty power steering pump can be damaged very quickly and is costly to replace.
CLICK HERE FOR THE RECOMMENDED FLUID TYPE FOR YOUR VEHICLE
Power Steering Maintenance
Inspection and replacement of defective power steering hoses is essential for driver safety and eliminates the expensive repairing or replacing of the steering pump or other components.
Hoses should be replaced after 20,000 to 24,000 miles as preventive maintenance. During that time and mileage, the hoses loose their effectiveness and are subject to failure.
Causes of Wear
Power Steering Hoses are subjected to far greater stresses and wear in the late model cars than they were in early vehicles. Pump operating pressures have increased from 650-900 P.S.I. to 900-1450 P.S.I. Operating temperatures now range between 150-250 degrees F. Later model cars are equipped with power steering pump oil coolers to control this heat.
High temperature pulsations cause power steering hoses to deteriorate from the inside. The constant flexing and pressure surges result in the breaking off of small particles of hose, which are carried through the entire system. This can cause the strainer to clog and valves to stick, resulting in system malfunction.
Custom designed power steering repair kits are supplied for all of the major components of the Integral, Linkage and Rack and Pinion Systems.
Guidelines For Inspection and Service
Replacement of power steering hose is warranted when visual inspection indicates the following:
Brittleness Or Hardness: An early sign of internal wear: the hose has lost its ability to absorb pressure surges.
Soft, Spongy Hose: A more serious sign of wear, indicating advanced internal deterioration and probable leakage.
Leakage Of Power Steering Fluid: Is easily detected by visual inspection of the hose at the end fittings.
External Wear And Abrasion: Caused by contact with manifold or other engine parts, calls for replacement and realignment of hose.
Thick, Sludgy Fluid in Pump Reservoir: Indicates internal hose wear and need for a complete flush of system.
Some signs of wear are noticeable to the driver, including noise or excessive vibration when turning or hard turning in either direction. These are danger symptoms calling for a test of the system and replacement of parts as required.
Power Steering System Noises