Whining or squealing noises from your power steering system are common problems in cold weather. What causes this? Is your power steering simply fed up with the bad weather? I know I do a lot of whining and squealing through January and February. Actually, though, these noises can indicate problems with your power steering. Fortunately, these problems are usually pretty easy to fix.
First of all, how do you know if the problem is with your power steering? Well, simply put, you’ll notice the sound gets worse when you’re turning. The sound could be coming either from your belt slipping on the power steering pulley, or from the power steering pump itself.
Your serpentine belt or accessory belt is made of rubber, which becomes less pliable when it’s cold. The stiffer belt has a harder time getting a good grip on the pulleys, and the belt might slip over the pulley a bit. That will cause a squealing noise. Now, that’s somewhat typical in cold weather, and will be worse the colder it is. It may not represent a huge problem, but you might want to check your belt anyway. Belts get stiffer with age anyway, so a newer belt might keep its pliability better in the cold. If your belt looks stiff or cracked, you should probably replace it with a new one.