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Help! &$#@!!&*% Power Steering Gone! &%#$%@!

Donne Trav

Well-known member
Joined
May 19, 2008
Messages
261
Location
Washington, DC
Corvette
1994 Blk/Blk
After many years of "high pitch whining" during the cold winters and only at start-up for a few seconds, the power steering has stopped working. Did its normal whining for a few seconds this AM, then stopped and started again. Only this time, the noise got louder and I could hardly turn the wheel. Got out to look under the hood and noticed a large puddle of fluid just beneath the steering box. Couldn't tell if it was the steering box leaking or a hose/tube going to the box. Seems like a major problem. I'm ticked! Just got my Jeep back on the road (new starter), now this. Anyone had any experience with this problem before? Is the dealer in the near future—again? Thanks
 

Pete K

Active member
Joined
Jan 31, 2007
Messages
31
Location
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Corvette
1987 Black Coupe
I have been lucky. Last time mine popped it's groin like that, it was the crimp on the high pressure hose. New $50 hose fixed me up.
 

boomdriver

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
1,886
Location
texas
Corvette
87 z-51
After many years of "high pitch whining" during the cold winters and only at start-up for a few seconds, the power steering has stopped working. Did its normal whining for a few seconds this AM, then stopped and started again. Only this time, the noise got louder and I could hardly turn the wheel. Got out to look under the hood and noticed a large puddle of fluid just beneath the steering box. Couldn't tell if it was the steering box leaking or a hose/tube going to the box. Seems like a major problem. I'm ticked! Just got my Jeep back on the road (new starter), now this. Anyone had any experience with this problem before? Is the dealer in the near future—again? Thanks

Its most likely that the pump shaft seal blew out after your description of the noises. Yes, it IS a job for the shop. Avoid the dealership and find a REAL shop to do the work. This particular repair project would be 4 digits at the dealer...
Its unfortunate that nobody introduced you to Lucas Rack & Pinion conditioner and stop leak...it WORKS ! The stuff would have posponed this for years.
The stiff, hard steering when cold is called "morning sickness" and common to Corvettes and the rack & pinion steering system.
The Lucas product ends this instantly.
When the steering is 'stuck' the pump output is not freeflowing as it should be and the excess pressure builds in the pump case and eventually escapes thru the shaft seal. Dirty, worn PS fluid is the cause. People change the motor oil, even the trans fluids, but nobody ever thinks of the PS fluid as something that has to be changed....until its too late.
(rear-axle, hint hint)

The PS pump CAN be rebuilt but whats the point when a new pump cost as much as the seal kit....and the level of work is horrible either way.
I just did mine after at least 8 yrs of denial and delaying with Lucas. When you hear that whine, thats called cavitation and that is very destructive to hyd pumps. Its like tiny little super compressed air bubbles that beat the pump to death internally,. When the whine is there even after warm up, its terminal. Go buy the parts,.

This is the scenario....
IF you have to replace the pump, PLAN on replacing the hoses also. If you risk not doing hoses, this job is such a B**** that you are gaurenteed to blow one within a month and you have to take ALL that apart again to get a tool on the hose fittings.
Also, If you had morning sickness or whinning you were also sending debris thru the whole system, so you will also need a new or rebuilt rack. About $250...not too bad. Pump will be $50-100 and hoses about $25-40.
Heres the bad news.....the labor cost will be between $300-$500. I paid $385 labor to install a new rack. The pump is even more difficult. Its a MAJOR pain in the a$$ job to do the pump and hoses, and the rack cannot be done at home.

In a C4, one portion of the power steering dooms the rest when there is a failure or some damage. If it was sticky, thats the rack. If its howling, thats the pump, and the hoses get changed just because you have to take everything else apart to even get a wrench on the fittings.
 

Donne Trav

Well-known member
Joined
May 19, 2008
Messages
261
Location
Washington, DC
Corvette
1994 Blk/Blk
Boomdriver! *****'s

YOU ARE THE MAN!! Thanks so much for that detailed explanation.
As it stands now, if its not a hose replacement, I'll have to fork out the 4 figures you mentioned. I would hope that it is a simple hose
fix vs. the other. At this time, it's "sense" vs. dollars for me. I'll probably try to find a rack & pinion shop, if there is such a thing, before heading to the dealership. Thankyou one more time!:thumb
 

boomdriver

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
1,886
Location
texas
Corvette
87 z-51
YOU ARE THE MAN!! Thanks so much for that detailed explanation.
As it stands now, if its not a hose replacement, I'll have to fork out the 4 figures you mentioned. I would hope that it is a simple hose
fix vs. the other. At this time, it's "sense" vs. dollars for me. I'll probably try to find a rack & pinion shop, if there is such a thing, before heading to the dealership. Thankyou one more time!:thumb

I bought my R&P from Corvette America....shipped to my local vette store. I was surprised at how inexpensive the rack is....I think O'Reillys offered a reman for <$200. The pump was also cheaper than I expected. Its the shop labor that stings so much.

The way the thing is assembled, the pump is buried inside a mounting bracket, and that lives under everything else. Sooo...
when all the other stuff on that side of the engine is removed, you have to pull the bracket and take it to the table where the pump can be removed...oh yeah, the pulley requires a puller also. Also needs a pulley press tool to be remounted. PITA.
The hose to the back of the pump is almost impossible to access while the pump is mounted, and the hose has steel bends that have to be turned just right...or they rub or cause the bracket not to fit.
I did the pump myself and being a poor man, I can honestly say that I'd sell a kidney before doing that job again...

The rack?
The mechanic that did it attempted to short cut the job and almost went insane. In the process he beat up the new rack and bent the tubing. We had a discussion about all that and the 1.5hr est cost when I picked the car up and saw the 6 hr labor bill that I refused to pay,... Knowing that my mechanic was a moron, I still hear of other guys running into similar issues when installing the rack,. its a very tight fit and MUST be done with the car on a lift and the process in the FSM must be followed.
Good luck.
PS issues on a Corvette can ruin your day.
 

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