Power Steering Issues

jrp27540

Active Member
Sep 9, 2016
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I just finished replacing the entire front suspension on my 88 LX 5.0 a few weeks ago. The only thing I didn't replace at the time was the rack and the inner/outer tie rods, as they appeared to be in good shape. After I put everything back together, the rack seals started leaking.... I ended up pulling the rack and replacing with a Cardone rebuilt rack. I also went ahead and replaced the outer tie rods; the rack came with new inner tie rods. The previous owner had used power steering fluid instead of trans fluid. I flushed the PS system using the correct power steering fluid. I have also worked all of the air out of the PS lines and rack.

I say all of this, as I am having issues with the power steering. This issue did not exist until after I replaced the rack and tie rods. The power steering is tighter than the original rack. I just assumed this was due to the rack being new. When driving, I have to fight the car to keep it going straight. When I turn a corner, the car should self track the steering back to forward on its own; this is not happening. If I turn left or right at a stop light, I have to help the car straighten itself back out. If I would let go of the steering wheel, it just stays where I turned it. The steering has loosened up over the past 2-3 weeks, but it still will not auto correct itself back to center.

My gut says it's the rack....but I want to make sure before I go tearing everything apart. I am trying to eliminate the power steering pump being the issue, since the PO used power steering fluid in it. When the car is running, cold or hot, I dont see much fluid "movement" in the pump. The fluid doesn't appear to be churning, but I'm not sure if this is expected or not. The fluid is at the correct level, and the fluid does rise in the pump when the car is at operating temp. I have provided two videos below of the pump both cold and hot. You will see some movement in the fluid, but its mostly vibration than pump movement. I know the pump is moving fluid, as I unhooked the return line from the pump to flush the pump/rack and remove any air. When I was flushing the fluid, I did remember being surprised at how little pressure was actually coming from the unhooked return line. I was expecting it to spray all over, but it just came out in a low pressure, steady stream. I also noticed that the fluid appears to have very small, shiny metal flakes in it. It almost looks like someone pored carbon fiber powder into the fluid....

Let me know your thoughts please....

Thanks!

PWP Cold: PSP Hot:
 
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Martman

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Jun 20, 2016
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Louisville, KY
If it won't return to center it is alignment. Toe-in in combination with caster helps the return to center. I was having the same problem with bad tie-rod ends and ball joints. Even after replacing them I had the problem but a little different. Re-aligned in the garage with 1/8th inch total toe-in (16th per side) and problem went away.
 

jrp27540

Active Member
Sep 9, 2016
173
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If it won't return to center it is alignment. Toe-in in combination with caster helps the return to center. I was having the same problem with bad tie-rod ends and ball joints. Even after replacing them I had the problem but a little different. Re-aligned in the garage with 1/8th inch total toe-in (16th per side) and problem went away.

That's good to hear that you had similar issues. I did take the car in for alignment after replacing everything, as I thought a good alignment would get it all straightened out. This issue existed before and after the alignment. It might be worth noting that I put lowering springs on it, as well as aftermarket caster camber plates. The car had been hit on the front driver side in its past, but the alignment shop did not have issues getting everything in the green. They did mention that the drivers side caster camber plate had to be pushed all the way to the outside finder in order to get things lined up. This confirms that I have frame issues...that I already suspected after I already started the front end rebuild. This winter I'm going to get it on a frame rack.
 

Mustang5L5

i'm familiar with penetration
Mod Dude
Feb 18, 2001
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I'll second alignment as a possible cause. What specs did they set the car to? Any way of confirming these on your own?

With the wheels jacked up in the air, is steering effort relatively easy? With engine off, can you push the wheel in and change the steering angle (key in ignition to unlock column). You should be able to move the wheel in/out by hand. A situation like you describe sounds like excessive caster, although it should be that difficult, and easy for the steering system to overcome. Fox power steering is generally over-assisted IMHO

In watching your videos, I also seem to think the amount of fluid being moved is very little. In having done this job on my car this past spring, I noticed when I would go lock to lock in my car, the level in the reservoir would vary up to 1/2" or so. As I hit each lock, the pump would whine loudest and fluid would drop a tad. Didn't notice this at all in your vids.

SO I wonder if this is in fact something mechanical.