Power steering is one of the aspects of vehicle maintenance that many drivers just take for granted. However, if the power steering on your vehicle starts to go, it's definitely something that you'll notice - it might be difficult to even turn the wheel slightly without this assistance. Fortunately, most of the issues with power steering are due to a leak in the fluid system, and this is a relatively simple problem to address.
You will need to get underneath the car for this repair, so you'll either need to drive it onto a car ramp or use jack stands. Make sure you follow all procedures for these devices, and safely block off the wheels.
The first step is to locate the power steering pump. This is typically located at the bottom of the engine bay, close to the steering column. Once you find the pump, you should be able to see if it's leaking any fluid pretty easily. However, if you can't tell, a good idea is to place paper underneath your vehicle. Dripping liquid will be easily visible on the paper, and you can then see right where the leak is coming from.
Many problems with power steering are simple to fix. The lines that carry the fluid may naturally come a bit loose during driving. Locate the nuts on your power steering pump and grab an appropriately-sized ratchet. With just a few twists, you should be able to tighten the hoses back into place and stop the leak.
However, it's also possible that these hoses aren't loose, but actually cracked. You should be able to see a crack in the hose. In this case, use your ratchet to loosen the nuts and remove the hose in question. If your tear or crack is located toward the end of the hose, you might save yourself some money on a replacement. Just cut the end of the hose off, stretch it out a bit, and put it back into place and retighten. Otherwise, you'll need to purchase a different hose and insert it where the old one was.
Once you've addressed the leak and are sure no more fluid is escaping, you'll need to check your power steering fluid. Most modern cars have a container that make this easy - they have the appropriate levels marked off, so it's just a matter of buying the fluid and filling it up (try to do this when your engine is cold if possible).