Odd noise when turning

Hello all,

I have a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee with about 117,000 miles. In the past week, I started noticing a Whoooooommmm… noise occasionally when I turn the steering wheel. Here’s what I’ve discerned so far:

1) It only happens occasionally. It doesn’t seem to happen at all in the first 5 minutes or so of driving.

2) It can happen even if the car is not moving and I turn the wheel.

3) It has yet to happen at speeds above 30 mph or so.

4) It is not dependent on how far I turn the wheel. If I hold the steering wheel in a turn, the noise remains until I straighten the wheel.

It’s also become quite cold recently, although that may be coincidental.

I’m thinking it’s some part of the power steering system, maybe the pump, but I’m not certain. What I’d like to know is am I correct in my diagnosis, and if so, is it something that can be repaired by myself, or is this a full blown replacement thing? Thank you all in advance.

If the power steering fluid has never been replaced, start there.

All the fluids in a vehicle are there to perform a function and to protect the system components. Once the fluid starts breaking down, the components start breaking down.


You’re describing the typical sound of a failing power steering pump.

If you raise the hood, stick your head under, and have a friend turn the wheel, I’m sure you’ll hear the sound’s origin.

The pump is a bolt on part driven by the serpentine belt, easy to replace on longitudinally mounted engines like yours. It’s a good DIY project. Just be sure to get a Haynes manual to guide you in releasing the tension on the belt as well as removal, replacemeht, and bleeding of the pump itself.

Thanks to both of you for your replies.

I bought the car used at 100k miles. I’ve added power steering fluid when necessary, but have never changed it. I’ll try that first. Is it any more involved than changing oil?

If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably wait for the pump to bite the dust, then swap it out.

I’ll post back with results.

I’ve added power steering fluid when necessary, but have never changed it.

     Please remember that you should not need to add fluid to the power steering.  It does not use fluid so it much be leaking.  I recommend not using the hillbilly fix (keep adding fluid) but rather fix the leak.

I should clarify-I bought the car used five years ago and only added fluid once. It may well have been a bit low when I got it. I’ve looked for a leak but did not see one, granted, it could be slow and hard to see. I just changed the fluid and the noise went away-I’ll monitor the fluid level over the next few weeks to see if I’m losing any.

As a follow-up, I changed the fluid and the noise went away. The fluid was low before the change, so that didn’t help, I’m sure. I’ll monitor for leaks and keep a watchful eye on the pump. Thank you all for your help!

One more thing-any tips on spotting a slow leak, should it turn out I have one?