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Power Steering Failure

This is a discussion on Power Steering Failure within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; So I was turning into my parking space night before last and felt a pop and a release as I ...

  1. #1
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    2002 Firebird

    Power Steering Failure

    So I was turning into my parking space night before last and felt a pop and a release as I was straightening the wheel. It was late, and I was tired so I left it for later to check. Didn't get to it yesterday due to daughter's bday party. Murphy's Law dictated that we get 6 inches of snow last night, so I haven't been able to do a thorough investigation, but I do know that my power steering fluid reservoir is now almost empty. I checked the coolant to see if it was mucky from hydraulic fluid, but didn't see anything abnormal other than old coolant.

    Can you guys help me minimize my time rolling around in the snow diagnosing this? I've used the search function, and the PS cooler breakage was the most common thing I saw. Is there anything else I should be aware of before going out there?

  2. #2
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    Did you check your hoses going to the power steering pump to see if either of them had collapsed? A hose could have burst and allowed the reservoir to drain out. The lines going to the rack could have split as well. Check to see if the belt is broken as well. Also, the seals in the rack could have failed causing a leak beneath the bellows(rubber boots that cover the inner tie rods).

  3. #3
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    I appreciate the quick reply. I'm going to make a checklist of things to check, that way I'm not making ten trips out there, snow is coming down pretty good still.

  4. #4
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    OK. Find out and get back to us. Stay warm.

  5. #5
    Member mike171562's Avatar
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    sounds like a hose popped off.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    Well, between the weather and gastro-inter-whatchacallit where I was purging from both ends simultaneously, I just got around to checking the car out properly. No fluid leaks externally, and I can't tell if there is hydraulic fluid in my coolant because it's so dirty. So. Going to replace my coolant, the power steering cooler, and clean out my power steering pump and reservoir. I fully believe this will solve my issue. Just waiting on my PS cooler to arrive in the mail.

  7. #7
    Member blackcar's Avatar
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    2000 Camaro SS
    '02 Z28 parting-out

    When mine went out the shaft to the pully broke. But everything stayed in place. Just by looking you couldn't tell anything was wrong. But when I pulled the belt I could pull the pully out by hand. It let some fluid out but did not drain the reservoir.

    If the reservoir is empty, do you have a puddle? If not could it have just been out of fluid? When was the last time you checked the level. It is not uncommon for them to have small leaks.

  8. #8
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    I don't think the power steering fluid would mix with the coolant as the radiator is sealed off from where the power steering fluid passes through.

  9. #9
    Member blackcar's Avatar
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    2000 Camaro SS
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    On the ones with a PS cooler it will happen. The coolers are in the upper radiator hose and are known for going out. SS's came with a cooler Z28's did not. Not sure about the Firebirds

  10. #10
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    Oh. Gotcha.

  11. #11
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    Ok, I need to pull the belt off I suppose. I replaced the cooler, replaced the nasty coolant, and refilled with power steering fluid. Still no action. A broken pump shaft could be the culprit. Does this fit though; I topped off my power steering fluid with half a quart, and the fluid in the reservoir is foamy, brownish, thick, and large bubble are constantly coming to the surface. I really appreciate you guys' inputs. They're saving me time rolling around in my apartment parking lot in a foot of snow.

  12. #12
    Member blackcar's Avatar
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    Thats normal. When you replaced the cooler you got a lot of air in the lines. It will have to work its way out. It will be foamy and nasty looking until the air is gone.

  13. #13
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    My power steering is still non-functional though. Is this also normal?

  14. #14
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    Sounds like rack and pinion to me... I hate to say it but I just lost 100% of my PS fluid due to a leak on the rear of the pump (had to do alternator too) but didn't have any of the symptoms you're describing. It all leaked out and made a godawful whining sound but if your pulley is good it may be somewhere besides just the pump - ESP if its holding coolant.

  15. #15
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    You might have to poke a small hole in the bellows(rubber boots that cover the inner tie rods) on the power steering rack to see if any fluid comes out. If fluid comes out, then your rack is bad as the seals have failed.

  16. #16
    Member blackcar's Avatar
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    2000 Camaro SS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow@$$WS6 View Post
    My power steering is still non-functional though. Is this also normal?
    No. It is easy to see if it is the pully shaft. If it is not that see the 2 posts above

  17. #17
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    Found a good amount of fluid between the reservoir and pump housing. I'm headed to autozone to pick up a seal kit. God I hope this fixes it. Already installed the new PS cooler, nothing wrong with the old one. Anyone looking to buy one?

  18. #18
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    Ok, I blame Cammed Goat for this one.Ya definitely jinxed me with your certainty on the rack. Finally got an extra set of hands, I had the wife turn the wheel while I looked under the car. There was a flavor explosion of fluid from the drivers side bellows. It literally squirted out. It was actually getting other stuff in the engine bay wet. So. I've replaced the cooler, rebuilt the pump, and spent HOURS leaning over the engine bay out side in sub freezing temps. One look would have prevented all this. Next question is... Can this be rebuilt. Is that worthwhile. How do I even get this bastard out laying on my back in a parking lot?


    Edit: How much more would it cost me to just go with manual steering if I already have to remove this rack?
    Last edited by Slow@$$WS6; 01-21-2012 at 01:20 PM. Reason: I forgot

  19. #19
    Smiles for 9.5 Years cammed goat's Avatar
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    Shop around for a rebuilt rack. In my opinion, you would be better off getting the rack out while the car is on a lift as you need to remove the lines, unbolt the rack from the frame and steering shaft. Then you have to unbolt it from the spindles with the front wheels off. If you choose to remove the rack yourself, check your outer tierods for play. Also, line both old and new racks up and see what direction the new rack is positioned(left/right) as to center it so you won't need an alignment and the steering wheel will be centered. Count the number of turns you have to twist both outer tierods off the old rack and onto the new rack to keep your front wheels centered as well once everything is back under the car.

  20. #20
    Junior Member Slow@$$WS6's Avatar
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    This may sound a bit stupid, but if I can get the car up on some jackstands, can I replace that seal without removing the whole unit?

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