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Car made a noise like a weed eater, then I lost steering


A little while ago I was driving through a drive through line in my 1997 mercedes benz s320. I had to stop and go multiple times as the line was quite long. When I got to the window, my car suddenly began to make a loud sputtering noise similar to a weed eater or lawnmower. I was disturbed, but figured If I just got the car home I would be ok. I got onto the highway and suddenly the noise stopped. However, when the noise stopped, my steering system locked up and it became very difficult, almost impossible, to steer the car. I got off the highway and could barley make the turn to get off the offramp. As I was driving down the street towards my house, smoke began billowing out of the front drivers side along with a burning smell. I stopped the car near my apt and shut it off, then managed to push it into a nearby lot. I have not started it up since.

I know little to nothing about cars. My questions are

What might be/is probably wrong with it?
How much would it probably cost to fix?
Is it even worth it or is this car dead?

My number one guess power steering motor locked up and fried the belt, no idea as to cost

The power steering fluid leaked out, that will cause smoke when the fluid hits hot exhaust parts. Perhaps the high pressure hose failed.


Check your power steering fluid level and report back. I suspect Nevada_545 is correct.

Concur, most likely PS pump or belt problem. Don’t drive it. Have the car towed to your favorite repair place. Without knowing what exactly is broken, no way to know how much it will cost to fix, but for a Mercedes power steering pump … hmmm … suggest to reserve $2000 for parts and labor. Probably will cost a little less. Possibly much less.

One thing your shop should check as part of this repair, test to make sure the engine isn’t overheating on long idles. When folks here report a symptom developed while waiting in a fast food drive-through lane, a common cause for that is the engine cooling fan has failed, and that caused the engine coolant to overheat. It happens very rapidly if the radiator fan doesn’t work for some reason. That wouldn’t usually cause a problem with the power steering pump, but it should still be checked out.

The weedeater sound suggests to me that you may have popped a drive belt, but there’s really no way to know without popping the hood and looking. Have you tried that?