Can You Drive Without Power Steering? – Expert Opinion

Power steering systems rely on the principles of hydraulics to work. It makes turning the steering easy so the driver can turn the wheels with minimal effort. Once there’s a shortage of power steering fluid, the driver will find it difficult to turn the wheel.

It may lead to a seamy driving experience. So, if you’re asking, “is it hard to drive a car without power steering?” Of course, it is. However, the matter of concern here is, ‘can you drive without power steering?’ We’ll explain that in detail in the subsequent paragraphs.

What Happens If You Drive Without Power Steering?

Before you think of driving without power steering, there are things you need to know. With that in mind, let’s look at what happens if you drive without a power steering fluid.

is it hard to drive a car without power steering

Small leaks will escalate to a major leak

Manufacturers engineered power steering fluids to stay sealed. They are not meant to leak. This implies that a leak indicates an imminent problem in the steering system. A small leak in the system may not affect your driving experience, but if the leak becomes bigger, it’ll cause a devastating driving experience.

Let’s say you have a small crack on the power steering pump or hose, it’ll not affect the power steering at the initial stage. But if the crack expands, you’ll run out of power steering in no distant time.

Hard steering

“Is it hard to drive a car without power steering?” While older cars without power steering run fine, newer cars with power steering systems but with no fluid will be difficult to steer. This is because manufacturers do not build these two steering systems with the same technology.

When fluid leaks occur on the power steering, the steering wheel will become stiff to turn. It becomes worse when turning at a standing point, or when making corners.

Damages to the power steering pump

While the power steering leak poses little concern, do not allow it to go beyond the max level for any reason. Once the fluid level drops below the minimum range, it’ll cause excess friction and overheat. I believe you know what this means.

Excess friction means there will be metal-to-metal rubbing on the inner components because of a lack of lubrication. And, once the fluid overheats, it’ll lose its lubricating properties. However, these will not go into action immediately as the fluid drops below the minimum level. It is a gradual process. Although, your case may be different. If for any reason you decide to drive without power steering for a while, avoid making sharp turns.

Increased chances of road accidents

Every component in a vehicle plays a specific role. While some system functions are critical for the day-to-day driving experience, others may have few functions. The power steering system plays a vital role in the overall driving experience.

Driving without it makes the steering wheel hard to steer on straight pavement and becomes extremely difficult when taking corners. This increases the chances of getting involved in road accidents. You may search ‘driving without power steering’ on Reddit to see motorists’ discussions on this subject.

“Can You Drive Without Power Steering?”

One can drive without power steering, but there are issues you may face on the way. Driving without a power steering belt or fluid can cause severe damage to the steering system in the long run.

In some states, it is illegal and the authorities may issue you a ticket for driving without power steering since it projects an increased chance of accidents to the driver and other road users.

When the power steering drive belt disconnects or the steering pump runs out of fluid, the steering wheel will be much harder to steer. This means you won’t be able to respond to emergencies as quickly as possible.

To avoid issues in emergencies, fix these problems on time and be safety conscious at all times. Getting a drive belt or fixing steering leaks will cost you less than $200. Why not fix it?

can you drive without power steering


Q: How long can you drive without power steering?

Of course, some situations may prompt you to drive without power steering, but how long can you go? You may drive with a low-power steering fluid and have little to no effects before refilling it.

But driving without power steering for more than five minutes will damage the seals and gaskets on the pump. It’ll also cause premature wear on the pump.

“Q: What happens if power steering goes out while driving?”

If your power steering goes out while driving, you’ll know it immediately. It’ll make the steering wheel hard to turn, more stiff and stubborn, and require a workforce to turn the wheels. If you continue driving any longer, it’ll make you wonder “what the hell is wrong with your baby ride.”

You need to pull to the low lane and switch on your hazard lights while you locate a place to pull over. Walk to a nearby mechanic to rectify the cause and fix it.

Q: How much does it cost to fix power steering?

As alluded to above, fixing a power steering leak is affordable. The average cost of repairing a power steering leak should be around $100 to $200. If the cause is a broken serpentine belt, you may have to pay $50 to $100.

However, if you are dealing with a bad power steering pump, it’ll cost you around $200 to $450. And in case of a bad rack and pinion steering, it’ll cost you around $500 to $900 to fix it.

Q: What cars have no power steering?

Indeed, power steering has been a welcome innovation in the automotive industry since 1951. Almost every vehicle produced after 1951 has a power steering system. However, there are some motorists, especially racers, who prefer uninterrupted contact with the road.

For this reason, some manufacturers built cars without power steering for ‘no power steering enthusiasts.’ These vehicles without power steering include Alfa Romeo 4C, 2007 Dacia Logan, 2000 Honda Civic CX hatchback, and 1997 Ford Aspire.

Q: How do you know if the power steering is broken?

Whenever your power steering belt breaks or pulls off, the vehicle will project a series of signs to notify the driver. It’ll also project these malfunctions when driving with low or no power steering fluid.

Q: The steering wheel responds slowly

Power steering responds swiftly. If you steer the wheel and notice a slow response, your power steering may be broken. You need to check the drive belt, fluid level, and the power steering pump itself.

Q: The steering wheel becomes stiff

 A broken power steering will cause the steering wheel to become difficult to steer. Once you notice this, check the fluid. If the fluid is gauged, consider consulting a certified mechanic.

Q: Squealing, groaning, and whining noise

If your car makes a whining, groaning, or squealing noise when turning the steering wheel, you probably have a broken power steering. Contact your mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem.

Final words

Driving without power steering will not yield smooth driving, leading to discomfort and a seamy driving experience. It’s best to spare yourself the dangers of driving with faulty or no steering fluid. 

I advise you to take your vehicle to your mechanic whenever you have power steering issues. Even when driving to a mechanic, apply cautiousness and get the steering fixed as soon as possible. We hope you have got all your concerns and the question ‘Can you drive without power steering?’ answered in detail.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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