Power Steering Went Out and Car Died, Power Steering Went Out and Car Died (7 Smart Action To Take), KevweAuto

Power Steering Went Out and Car Died (7 Smart Action To Take)

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You’re driving along when suddenly the power steering disappears and the engine sputters to a stop. This nightmarish scenario can cause panic, but don’t fret. While power steering and engine failure together can seem dire, arming yourself with some knowledge allows you to handle it smoothly.

With a logical, methodical approach, you can diagnose and resolve many power steering issues that lead to stalling. Let’s walk through why this happens, and the smart actions to take if your steering fails and your engine dies unexpectedly.

How Power Steering Works

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Power steering uses hydraulic pressure to amplify your steering inputs, making the car easier to turn. Here’s how it works:

The power steering pump pressurizes fluid from the reservoir and sends it to the steering gear. Within the gear, the pressure acts on valves and pistons that provide added force to turn the wheels left or right. This allows easy low-speed maneuvering.

If the pump fails or a leak develops, the hydraulic pressure is lost, and steering reverts to manual operation. This makes the wheel very heavy at low speeds. Power steering relies on proper hydraulics, the drive belt, electrical power, and functional mechanical linkages.

Why Power Steering Loss Stalls the Engine

There are a few common reasons power steering may fail simultaneously with stalling:

1. Hydraulic Failure

A pump failure or major leak reduces pressure for power assistance. The sudden, hard steering load can then stall a running engine.

2. Drive Belt Failure

The single serpentine belt drives the pump and alternator. If it breaks, the pump and charging system fail, potentially stalling the engine.

3. Electrical Problem

On newer vehicles, an electronic power steering motor provides assistance. Electrical issues that disable this motor cut off assist, possibly stalling the engine.

In each case, the root cause stems from a failure of a component critical to both systems—hydraulics, belt, or electrical. When the steering or engine lose vital input, both can be affected.

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Step-by-Step Diagnosis and Resolution

Power Steering Went Out and Car Died, Power Steering Went Out and Car Died (7 Smart Action To Take), KevweAuto

When your power steering and engine cut out together, avoid panic and focus on methodical troubleshooting:

Get to Safety

First, carefully steer to a safe roadside location. Turn the wheels while stopped, if necessary. The car may continue rolling if stall occurs while driving.

Check Dashboard Warnings

Note if the battery or alternator warning lights are on, which could indicate an electrical issue. Check for other clues.

Look for Leaks or Damage

Inspect under the hood and undercarriage for leaking steering fluid or a damaged belt. Look for loose connectors or damaged wiring.

Check The Power Steering Fluid

Inspect the level and condition in the reservoir. Low or dirty fluid can cause pump cavitation and failure.

Inspect the Drive Belt

If belt-driven, check for cracks, fraying, and proper tension. A broken belt eliminates drive to the pump and alternator.

Reboot Electrical Systems

Turn the ignition fully off and on again to reset computers. Try to restart the engine. The problem may require further diagnosis.

Seek Diagnostic Codes

Auto shops can scan for any stored diagnostic trouble codes that help identify issues. These provide a starting point.

Carefully working through these steps helps narrow down the cause so you know if roadside repairs may be possible, or if professional assistance is required. While simultaneous power steering and stall events are highly alarming, methodical troubleshooting brings logic to the situation.

Common Causes of Dual System Failure

Among the most common causes of concurrent power steering loss alongside engine stalling:

1. Failed Power Steering Pump

If the pump stops turning or the internal gears break, hydraulic pressure is lost, resulting in heavy manual steering. The sudden extra load can stall some engines.

2. Thrown or Broken Belt

The drive belt may start slipping or get thrown by a failed pulley. A broken belt removes drive to the power steering pump and alternator, disabling both critical systems.

3. Steering Fluid Leaks

Power Steering Went Out and Car Died, Power Steering Went Out and Car Died (7 Smart Action To Take), KevweAuto

Any substantial leaks in hoses, pumps, or gearboxes rob steering assist pressure rapidly. Cracks and holes can develop over time or due to wear. Low fluid levels have the same effect.

4. Electrical System Issues

On newer electric steering cars, battery problems or loose connections can cut power to the steering motor and engine systems simultaneously.

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5. Computer Malfunctions

Many modern vehicles rely on the PCM/ECU computer to control both steering and engine systems. Module issues can affect both at once.

There are other possibilities, but these make up most cases of simultaneous power steering and stalling events. Focus diagnosis efforts on the most likely scenarios based on symptoms present.

Smart Actions After Simultaneous System Failure

Experiencing a power steering loss coupled with the engine dying is undeniably frightening. But panic helps nothing – smart actions do:

  • Pull over carefully using the wheel when possible. Get out of potential traffic hazards while you maintain control.
  • Scan dashboard indicators for battery, alternator, or other warnings that may reveal the cause.
  • Visually inspect for any obvious damage or detachments under the hood related to the belt or pump.
  • Check power steering reservoir level and condition. Top it up with the specified fluid if low.
  • Test belt tension. Look for cracks or debris stuck in pulleys. Have replacements ready.
  • Seek professional diagnosis to read any computer fault codes plus inspect the hydraulic and electrical systems.
  • Fully repair any issues before driving again, as both steering and engine are critical to control.

While this type of failure can seem dire, keeping calm allows you to respond appropriately. Get to safety, look for clues, and summon assistance. Don’t just guess at causes or attempt unsafe repairs roadside. Making smart choices takes priority.

Prevention of Repeat Failures

Once the specific reason for system issues is fixed, consider additional steps to help prevent reoccurrence:

  • Address any leaks or fluid pressure problems completely, flushing contamination from hydraulic components.
  • Replace worn belt pulleys that may be putting undue stress on the drive belt.
  • Install new belts and hoses proactively if existing ones are aged. Check tension regularly.
  • Inspect key electrical wiring and connections routinely for any corrosion or loosening.
  • Update PCM/ECU software if glitches are suspected in commands to systems.
  • Avoid potholes and curbs that jar components. Have alignments done regularly.

Taking these preventive measures can help ensure critical vehicle systems continue operating stably. Driving carefully to minimize component strain is also key. Together, repairs and sensible operation will restore confidence.

Calling for Professional Help

While DIY repairs are great for minor issues, sometimes it’s best to call for assistance:

  • If systems don’t start after checking fluids and drives, call for a tow rather than attempt to drive without power steering or a stalled engine.
  • Knocking, grinding or whining from the steering column or pump housings means inspection by a qualified mechanic is needed.
  • Leaking fluid visible below the vehicle indicates the need for immediate diagnosis and repair by a professional.
  • For repeated simultaneous system failures, expert diagnostic capabilities are required to uncover hidden issues.
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Your safety is most important. While some power steering faults are within DIY grasp, others require a professional. Don’t take risks driving unnecessarily without properly functioning steering or engine. The financial cost pales versus the safety risks.

Operating Safely After Power Steering Loss

Power Steering Went Out and Car Died, Power Steering Went Out and Car Died (7 Smart Action To Take), KevweAuto

In rare cases you may have no choice but to drive a very short distance without power assist. This is possible, but use extreme caution:

  • Keep speeds low. Only drive as absolutely necessary before having repairs done.
  • Brace arms against the wheel rim and use your body for extra leverage when turning.
  • Increase following distances and allow more time to turn safely.
  • Avoid quick maneuvers. Move the wheel smoothly with firm pressure.

With extra care, you can safely control the vehicle briefly without power steering, but never ignore this serious failure. Any difficulty steering or overheated hydraulic smell means stop driving immediately and call for assistance. Like any critical system failure, address issues completely before operating the vehicle further.


Losing power steering right as the engine dies is undoubtedly terrifying. But while such a failure seems dire, it’s rarely hopeless, thanks to applying core knowledge and logic. Educate yourself on how the systems interact and where problems commonly develop. Address failures rationally and methodically. DIY repairs may resolve minor issues, while major ones warrant professional assistance. And above all, make safety the number one priority.

With this mindset and prudent actions, even serious mechanical issues need not lead to mayhem. Maintain perspective, make informed choices, and remember you have the power to handle circumstances and get help. Stay calm, focused, and empowered if you find yourself without power steering and a dead engine. With preparation and level-headed thinking, you’ll make it through the ordeal and be cruising happily again in no time.

Ejenakevwe Samuel

I'm Ejenakevwe Samuel, and my blog is all about sharing the love for cars. Through my blog, I pour my heart into educating fellow car enthusiasts in everything they need to know about their beloved rides. Whether it's driving tips, maintenance tricks, or the latest trends, I aim to empower others to make informed decisions and take care of their vehicles like a pro.

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