My daughter in college says she loses power steering on her 97 Ford Taurus when she drives through a water puddle. Our mechanic says this is normal when the belt gets wet but the power brakes will return when the belt dries out. Is this really normal? Isn’t it hazardous to lose your power steering like this? Can anything be done to prevent this?
It is not “normal.” I suggest you find a new mechanic who says loosing lower brakes is normal and that you should accept it. That said, how deep was that puddle? If she was driving through a flooded underpass, then it is her driving that is not normal or safe. That kind of water can do it, but normal puddles in the street will not.
Was the power steering lost, or the power brakes?
Which is it she’s losing, her brakes or steering? You mention both in your post, did she lose both or only one?
By the way, it’s not terribly rare for cars with worn belts to have reduced power steering when they get wet. The water acts as a lubricant, so the belt slides over the PS pulley, instead of turning it. Ford had a problem with this happening on Crown Victorias for a few years, only on them, the belt would fly right off if it got really wet. Ford fixed it by putting a splash guard under the engine as well as putting a retaining barrier near the PS pulley.
Ford put out a service bulletin (Article No. 97-18-1) about this very thing. The bulletin specifically names the V6 engine; but, the solution applies to all. Examine the power steering drive belt. If it’s loose, and fairly new, tighten (but, don’t over-tighten) it. If the belt isn’t fairly new, replace it. Your daughter’s safety is worth more than the cost of a stinking belt!
Splash shields may be missing from the car. Air dams are the first to get ripped off on parking blocks, etc. A mechanic may have"forgotten" to put a shield back on. You could go to the Ford dealer parts department and ask for a printout (drawings, diagrams) of all the splash shields. The worst they could say is, “NO”.
It was only the steering. I should have proofed my question more carefully!