I searched before posting this, and didn’t see anything exactly matching my situation, so …
I’ve got a question about the power steering on my 1993 Mazda 626. While on a trip, I drifted off the road on a curve, traveling about 20 miles per hour. (The curve was a little sharper than I’d thought it was.) Anyway, the shoulder was low. I didn’t feel any strong bump or hear a scraping noise, as I’d expect if I’d hit the undercarriage of the car on the edge of the pavement.
Shortly after that, I stopped to get gas. Leaving the gas station, I noticed my steering wheel was a little difficult to turn. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I hadn’t had any problem with the steering up to that point.
That was four days ago, and the problem persists. The power steering works just fine at speed, and sometimes works fine even when the car is barely moving. Usually, though, at low speeds the steering wheel is difficult to turn past the halfway point, making parking and such a more daunting task.
I had the front axle and CV boots replaced this morning, as part of a previously scheduled maintenance problem (my passenger-side CV boot was busted). I had thought the CV boot might have caused the steering problem, but it’s still happening.
Power steering fluid level is fine, and no leaks are apparent. I haven’t checked the belt yet (although, honestly, I’m not sure where the belt would be; somewhere near the fluid reservoir, I’d guess).
Could the jolt caused by leaving the road have damaged the power steering somehow?
What potential damage can be done by driving the car in this condition? It’s driveable, but annoying. I just sank around $1,000 in the car (condenser fan, water pump, timing belt and now the axle); I don’t want to shell out additional maintenance costs unless it’s absolutely necessary.