Oldsmobile Power Steering Pump
The hydraulic pressure produced by the Oldsmobile power steering pump makes it possible to steer your vehicle with just a touch of a finger. This is vastly different than what was experienced by drivers over 50 years ago, before the introduction of power steering on a vehicle. With manual steering both hands would have to be firmly grasping the steering wheel so the car could change directions.
The power steering pump is located on the front of the engine, and is powered by the centrifugal force supplied by the drive belt system you have on your Oldsmobile. This is why there is no power steering when the engine in not operating, the power steering pump will not have any centrifugal power providing it a means for pumping the hydraulic fluid.
Most Oldsmobile power steering pumps will last for as long as the vehicle is being operated on the road. The only component in this device that can fail is the polymer seal on the shaft. The power steering pump seal fails on an Oldsmobile engine when it is worn out from use and if there is too much tension to the shaft being exerted on it from the drive belt. In both incidents the hydraulic fluid will be found on the inside area of the pulley attached to the power steering pump and on the pavement below the vehicle when it is parked.
The pump on the power steering system is very reliable, and the seal failure on your Oldsmobile is a rare occurrence. But when it does happen, it must be addressed very soon after being discovered. If the leaking component is not replaced, the fluid will continue to leave this system and steering failure will be the end result.