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Old 02-05-2006, 02:11 PM
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Power steering question

I've been wondering about this for a while. It seems like every older vehicle (with power steering) I've had or seen does this: when you turn the steering wheel all the way in either direction, the power steering belt will slip and squeal.

What causes this? Is this from the power steering pump wearing out, a problem with the steering box, or just something out of adjustment?

Chris

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Old 02-05-2006, 03:07 PM
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Yeah ... that's pretty common, actually.

I guess that the auto mfr's thought that the motoring public would be intelligent enough to know that one you hit the lock in one direction and the drive belt started to squeal, that it would indicate that they had the wheels turned as far as they were going to go. I suppose they also thought that the driver would recognize this as an audible clue, and learn to relax his/her death grip a little ... apparently not!

The thing to understand here is that a power steering pump is nothing more than a simple hydraulic pump that provides a pressurized flow of fluid. When the steering box senses "high effort" (a specified torque figure at the input shaft) it opens a valve which allows pressurized fluid to enter and provide steering assistance in order to reduce driver effort.

So when you are holding the steering wheel at the lock, the valve in the steering box goes wide open, and the pump "goes for broke" as well.

Thank goodness that the engineers installed a releif valve inside the pump that allows the pressurized fluid to by-pass. This prevents the pump from locking up solid and either stalling the engine or burning the belt right off. If the belt is not tight enough, perhaps it starts to slip before the releif valve cuts in ... and the belt squeals. The oscillation of this bypass valve also makes a high-pitched sound ... again ... another audible clue.

I can't thelp but think that "forcing" the wheel also puts undue strain on the steering linkage as well.

I think that the more modern vehicles, equipped with rack and pinion steering have been engineered to be a little more idiot-proof. 4-cylinder cars also have a pressure switch / throttle kicker setup so that turning the wheels doesn't stall the engine.
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Old 02-05-2006, 09:26 PM
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I understand that, but none of these vehicles did this when they were new(er)...and, for example my truck, will continue to squeal until you turn the wheel back about 1/4 turn. In fact, it often starts doing it before the wheel goes all the way, about that same 1/4 turn...although it doesn't do it all the time, but most of the time.

It does definately drop the RPM's when it happens, and the belt is good and tight...

Chris
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Old 02-05-2006, 10:06 PM
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Hmmm... 1/4 turn you say ... there's something wrong there.
Perhaps the valving in the steering gear and/or pump is out of spec somehow, or binding internally?

As I mentioned earlier, this excessive pressure is hard on steering linkage. Perhaps it's gotten to a point where the linkage binds up, and that you have to "steer back" to relieve the binding?

Are there any coolant or oil leaks that may be dripping onto the belt or pulleys?

If that belt has been squealing for a while, there's a good chance that it has worn thin and has gotten glazed as well. Try a new belt, and let us know if that helps.
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Old 02-19-2006, 02:31 PM
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worn belt
worn pulleys
worn pump
worn pump bypass valve

I bet if you put all brand new stuff on it, the noise would stop.
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