Thread: Power steering issues

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  1. #1
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    Default Power steering issues

    So I've tried looking up as much as I can on this and have tried about everything I can think of, but I'm running out of ideas. This all started back when my power steering first started leaking. I had the typical pressure fitting leak at the pump and bought the JTSVP kit to covert it to AN style hoses. This coincided with the first pump failure after my second time taking the car to the track.

    Got the car home and put on a new pump and never could get power assist on the steering at idle. My dad ended up putting on another pump while I was out of town for me and it seemed nothing was fixed initially. Still little to no assist at idle, but after driving it around for a week or two I finally got back to normal steering.

    Fast forward to my next track day (I do one a year currently) and during one of my sessions the power steering pump fails somewhat spectacularly. Looks like the front seal let go, so I swap in yet another pump (now on to number 3) in the parking lot and it seems to work okay initially. I have assist from the beginning, but it's noisy as it's still working out air in the system. Come back the next morning to bleed it some more before going on the track and I no longer have steering assist at idle again.

    I'm thinking I must have just toasted the pump with the aerated fluid, so when I get back home I do a full power steering system teardown and suck as much fluid out of the lines as I can with a hand vacuum pump on the return lines. Put in pump number 4 and fill the system up with ATF+4 and take my time getting all the bubbles out. Obviously the system has to run to do this, so I'm aerating the fluid again to some degree, but only at idle. However, I still have no assist at idle. I have to wind the engine up to 1500-2000 rpm before it feels like it used to.

    I have cranked the wheel back and forth with the wheels up and the engine off something like 100 times now and have a hard time believing it's just air in the system at this point. I have also run the cooling fan at max speed to bleed that part of the system. I'm now just at a loss. I am getting tired of putting pumps in this thing, but I'm not sure what else to try. It doesn't seem like it would be the fan or rack as the system worked fine previously before the pump shot the front seal at the track. The other thing I have noticed is that the pump doesn't sound like it's hitting relief at the steering stops. If I crank the wheel hard and hold it, it barely gets any louder than normal. It doesn't give the typically hydraulic bypass sound you hear in most other cars.

    Any ideas what to try next? They have all been rebuilt pumps, but I have a hard time believing that I would have so many crappy pumps in a row and that a new one is really necessary. What else would wear in these besides seals that would make a rebuild inferior? I have ordered a steering analyzer gauge to try to verify the pump output and check the fan module and rack, but am looking for ideas while I wait for it to show up.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    My money is on there being something wrong with the fitting assembly from JTSVP. When changes create failures, look at the changes.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    It worked fine with the new fittings for a year or so before the pump blew at the track though. I think what may have ultimately caused one of the issues was that my pulley was pressed on too far. The belt didn't make any noise, but it was probably close to 1/8" past flush with the pump shaft. I pressed the new one on flush per the service manual.

    I have considered going back to the factory setup and it's still on the table, but I just haven't collected the parts necessary to do so yet and am trying to figure out how I could polish the tubing that fails the o-ring over time before installation to see if that would help it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    I think your rack is beat. And killing your pumps.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    There is more going on here. Depending on the original failure, you may have a power steering system that was filled up with metal, and EVERYTHING is damaged now. There is no filter, and nobody ever flushes the systems correctly, leading to continuing damage and constant repeat failures.

    May want to check your fluid for metal, and see if thats what is going on. Otherwise, tough call... possibly a bad rack as pointed out above, but if thats the case, the fan is most certainly damaged too by now.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    The fluid has always looked pretty clean. I thought it had metal sparkles in it originally, but when I drew a sample and let it sit for a while I think they looked more like micro bubbles that were stuck in suspension because when I let it sit for a few days nothing settled to the bottom.

    I vacuumed the whole system out this past time (so I'm hoping it's about as flushed as it can get) and still have the fluid sitting around, so I'll take another look at it. Since everything had been working fine for nearly a year I figured there wasn't any major damage, but it's hard to say. My power steering analyzer shows up Monday, so hopefully I can do a little more diagnosing and see if I can draw any conclusions.

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Well, it seems the issue may have made itself known before I even had a chance to use the analyzer. The car is leaving puddles wherever I park it now. Looks like the rack must have some sort of seal failure, most likely on the driver's side from the fluid location. All hoses and fittings and clean and tight with no drips, so that's about the other place it could be coming from.

    As a side note, does anyone know if the gen 3 rack has any kind of cross reference to other Dodge units? I plan to take the thing apart and see if I can rebuild it myself for the heck of it. Obviously it's possibly to rebuild them as there are companies doing it, so the parts must be available somewhere. It's just a matter of figuring out if I can buy them individually and not in lots of 100+ at a time. I think I remember reading somewhere that the 2wd Dakota seal kit worked, but don't remember if it was for a gen 2 or 3 if that matters.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Your car is a GEN 3 or 4??????

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    It's a gen 3. However, after jacking it up and looking it over it appears the rack is dry, so I'm back to guessing at what is really wrong. I got my steering analyzer and am getting some fittings today to be able to hook it up. Hopefully in the coming days I'll get a chance to test the pump and see if it's actually making the pressure and flow it's supposed to. If it's not doing it I think I'm just going to swallow the cost and order a brand new pump because I am tired of dealing with rebuilt ones that don't work out of the box.

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Well, this mystery just keeps getting more complex. I hooked up the steering analyzer (basically a pressure and flow gauge) per the service manual the other night and get the one result that the manual doesn't tell you what to replace. The pressure and flow out of the pump seems to check out between the pump and the fan motor. The pressure and flow also appear to check out between the fan motor and the rack, though it's right on the very edge of the low side. However, what doesn't check out is the relief pressure. The manual says I should be getting 1400 psi, but I'm only getting around 400. I do get the same values when closing the valve on the analyzer and turning the rack to the lock, so it would seem to at least rule out the rack being bad. Now it's a question of whether the pump isn't building enough pressure or whether the fan motor isn't letting it.

    Based on the wording of the service manual, the test is for the "fan motor steering relief pressure", so it would seem to indicate the fan motor isn't letting the rack build pressure. I'm guessing the pump isn't allowed to bypass itself (or is set higher than the fan motor pressure relief) as it would cut off flow to the fan motor, which would be bad for a cooling system. However, it's still a question of whether the pump isn't able to make the pressure to begin with, or whether the pressure relief in the fan motor is opening way early and not allowing it to build pressure.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    My guess as the pressures were in line between the pump and fan motor is that the relief valve is bad. If the pump was bad, it would more than likely not have tested out in range.

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Yep, for those following along with the saga I decided to take a look at the fan motor last night. They say they aren't serviceable, which is only really half true. There are two plugs on the side of the motor with valves under them. Not exactly sure why two, but whatever. One came out okay, the other was a little stuck, but I finally got it out. They had some score marks on the contact surface, so I chucked them in a drill and ran them against some 1500 grit sandpaper followed by some polish. They seemed to go back in a little easier and moved more freely, so I reassembled it and threw it back in the car. So far so good. I seem to have steering assist at low rpm again. If I ever lose it I'll probably just order a new fan motor, but at least I know that now. It would be nice if they offered the valves as service pieces, but I think they are likely somewhat unique to this motor and not an off the shelf piece. The bores the valves lived in felt okay, so not sure where the scoring came from, but I do have almost 110,000 miles on the car, so they've had a pretty full life.

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Thats good news, thanks for the info to.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    More than anything, I loved the fact that you repaired it yourself. We have become such a disposable society. Most would have just replaced the entire thing. Hope it holds up for another 110K.

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperJohn View Post
    More than anything, I loved the fact that you repaired it yourself. We have become such a disposable society. Most would have just replaced the entire thing. Hope it holds up for another 110K.
    Yeah, I'm just incredibly stubborn on this stuff. My general thought process is "it's already broke, so if I have to order a new one I'm not out any worse" and also "someone built this thing from parts to begin with, so it must able to be taken apart". There are some exceptions where parts are assembled in a way that prevents disassembly, but that's not too typical. I had a similar issue with my blower motor a while back. Popped the solder joint on the blower motor resistor, so I soldered it back together and took the motor out and cleaned up and lubed the bushing. Figured worst case if it dies again I'll get a new one, but otherwise if it works then I just saved myself $70. Been over a year now and haven't had any problems.

    So far I've managed to save myself $1500+ by not buying a brand new pump, a brand new rack, and a brand new fan. All it cost me was a piece of sandpaper I already had laying around and my own time (plus about a gallon of ATF+4 from all the draining and filling of the system and $75 for a new tool).

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    I also really wanted to take pictures to show people the guts of the fan motor, but my hands were so covered in power steering fluid most of the time and I was getting frustrated from fighting with the thing so much that I just never go around to it. I did find an interesting website though that covers the senior project of a college team that helped the manufacturer optimize the production line for them.

    The motors appear to be made by Valeo and are used on the Viper, Ram SRT-10, and some Jeeps. Based on the pictures they look to be a gerotor design and actually pretty simple. The main complexity with them is the extra valving they have to handle the power steering. Not that this is complex exactly, more just that there are extra components in the motor which don't really affect the motor's operation.

    The website for the design project is here: http://edge.rit.edu/edge/OldEDGE/pub...16/index2.html

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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Getting in late on the discussion. If you've noticed scoring on the relief assembly, I'd worry about metal particulates. It's possible that they've been flushed with all the work you did but it's also possible that they may have settled in a low flow region. Don't know if it can be done but maybe lock in a small but strong magnet somewhere in the flow? Of course won't work for non-ferrous grit.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Power steering issues

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperDad View Post
    Getting in late on the discussion. If you've noticed scoring on the relief assembly, I'd worry about metal particulates. It's possible that they've been flushed with all the work you did but it's also possible that they may have settled in a low flow region. Don't know if it can be done but maybe lock in a small but strong magnet somewhere in the flow? Of course won't work for non-ferrous grit.
    I'm not really sure either. I've never had the system open until the first failure a year or so ago. I suppose the rebuilt pumps I put in or the new lines I ordered could have had some junk in them, but I suspect this has been the issue all along and I just got lucky with a new pump the first time. Guessing the valve was sticky and finally just unstuck.

    I did notice that the bores the valves live in are machined into a casting with holes that feed into the side of the bore. As these are buried in a way, the edges are unfinished and a bit sharp. My first thought was maybe these edges have just caught the valve, but I'm not sure that they are designed to travel over the hole on a regular basis. I did actually vacuum the system out before I put on the newest pump to get as much fluid as possible out of the system. It was cherry red the first time I ever drained it, though maybe just a tiny bit darker than new. Could potentially put a filter in each return line, but don't really like the idea of cutting and splicing in one more failure point and have two lines to worry about. We'll see how it lasts though. Been working for a day now and seems happy enough. I saw they have revised the motor assembly three times (up to rev AD), so maybe they addressed some of these issues?

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