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Old 06-11-2011, 01:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Power Steering Pump Noise

I have a power steering pump that is making all sorts of whining noises. I've did some searching and I think it's just air that needs to be bled, but I want to get some opinions. This is my story...

1. I had a leaky water pump gasket (I thought)
2. Removed coolant reservoir, alternator, PS pump and bracket
3. Went to remove Water Pump and realized the leak wasn't coming from the water pump gasket but instead it was coming from the front timing chain cover gasket.
4. Removed front cover, and to do so had to remove the oil pan, crank pulley and damper, and unbolt the exhaust from both manifolds which required removing the plenum so I could get at the rear bolts. Also had to remove the starter to get the oil pan off.

After 2 days of disassembling half the engine I got my new gaskets and seals put on and everything put back in it's place, and all fluids topped off. However, in a rush to get things done, I accidentally put brake fluid in my power steering reservoir thinking it was power steering fluid, which later on I found out needed to be Mercon ATF!

I quickly recognized my brake fluid mistake, drained the reservoir, and added power steering fluid. I started up the car and the PS pump started whining real bad. I shut off the car and decided to flush the system by pouring fresh fluid in while the return emptied into my drain pan. This is where I found out that my cars PS system uses ATF not power steering fluid.

Did the flush and hooked everything back up...still noisy so I thought I screwed up the PS pump with brake fluid or poor flushing techniques. So off to Auto Zone again for a PS pump which I currently have installed with the same whining noise.

What do you think? I'm guessing it's just air. Initially it was foaming up, and now there's just small bubbles, so it seems it working it way out but it's still not getting any better. Should the fluid be totally clear of air bubbles?
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Old 06-11-2011, 07:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I recently replaced my ps pump as well, and it did the same thing, whining and 'frothing'. In the book it says to jack up the front end so the tires are off the ground, and repeatedly turn the steering wheel from left to right, trying not to hit the 'stops' at each turn; start with smaller motions to the left and right and work your way further each time.

After that, I still got a little bit of a whine, but it got better and eventually disappeared after a few trips.

I don't know what (if any) damage you did using brake fluid. Probably wouldn't hurt to flush the system (sounds like a PITA to do, though).

God bless!
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds like you may have air in the fluid & if you ran the engine with the brake fluid in there, some has likely mixed in with the P/S fluid & it would be a good idea to flush the entire system with new fluid.

Here is how I disconnected the P/S low pressure return line at the cooler & flushed my P/S system with SeaFoam Trans Tune, to clean it up inside & get all of the old fluid out, before I installed an inline fluid filter, in an effort to cure some other problems was having. You could use this proceedure to flush your pump, P/S rack, cooler & lines, in order to remove any remaining brake fluid that might cause mischief down the road.
http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/1520541-post9.html

Disabling the fuel pump so the engine won't run & having the front end raised, so the wheels can be turned lock to lock & a helper to bump the starter & turn the steering wheel while I poured in new fluid, made it an easy task & I got a good flush on the system without getting air in.

After servicing the system, having the front raised & idling the engine also allows for easier air bleeding, as we can cycle the steering wheel to bump the stop for not more than two seconds, so as not to damage the pump & thus help chase enrapped air back to the pump reservoir, so the bubbles in the fluid can pop.

On the flush, if you didn't keep the pump fluid reservoir topped up while the starter was bumped & let it get low & have the pump whip tiny air bubbles into the fluid, it'll take a while to work them all out, without a vacuum pump hooked up in place of the reservoir cap to help pop the foam bubbles. So you'll have to let it sit a while, run the engine again & slowly turn the steering wheel lock to lock to chase more foam back to the reservoir & shut the engine off & wait for the bubbles to pop.

If the fluid has foamed really bad & you continue to run the engine & cycle the steering wheel lock to lock, you'll just suck in & cyle more aerated fluid through the system in a vicious never ending circle!!!!!

Wear safety glasses when doing this, & keep the pump reservoir cap on when running the engine & cycling the steering wheel to bleed the system, as those air bubbles being pumped back to the pump reservoir are under pressure, so if they're big, can pop & give you & the engine compartment a facial!!!!! Don't ask how I found this out when doing my first P/S sysyem flush!!!!! lol At least I had my safety glasses on!!!!

Let us know how it goes.
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Last edited by pawpaw; 06-11-2011 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks lads!

I did flush the system out completely with 4 quarts of fluid so I think I got rid of any traces of brake fluid. I never ran it with the brake fluid in the first place so I really doubt much got in there anyway.

I think I'm going to install the original pump as it sounds like its definitely an air problem and will save me $50.

I let you know results...Thanks!
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handypilot View Post

I quickly recognized my brake fluid mistake, drained the reservoir, and added power steering fluid. I started up the car and the PS pump started whining real bad. I shut off the car and decided to flush the system by pouring fresh fluid in while the return emptied into my drain pan. This is where I found out that my cars PS system uses ATF not power steering fluid.
That will ruin your P/S components pretty quickly from what I'm told. Brakefluid is very caustic.

I jacked the car up and turned the wheels lock to lock with the car off a bunch of times with someone watching the level, then again with the engine on. You can vacuum the air out, if you have the right tool. Don't expect the pump to be completely quiet, CII pumps are loud by nature.

If you want to use the starter to help bleed the P/S system, fuse 10 should disable the ignition on a 3rd gen, not sure about others.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The system was already bled while I had someone turning so I got the old PS fluid out of every nook and cranny. I'm just glad I didn't run the car with brake fluid in there. and I've got real clean fluid starting to rid itself of bubbles. I'm still in the process of bleeding but I can tell it's getting better.

Thanks for all the help. I'm now an expert at removing and installing everything on the front of the engine.
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It may take 30-40 cycles of turning the steering wheel lock to lock, to get all of the fine bubbles/foam out, if the fluid was aerated really bad.
Take the time to rid the fluid of as much air as you can before driving it, as trapped air can throw the system into parasitic oscillation & vibrate the steering wheel out of your hand while driving, especially at high rpm.

Had that happen on my Ranger, when I didn't take the time to do a proper de-aeration, after a system flush, in which I let the pump fluid reservoir level get low & the pump whipped up & sucked some air into the rack & it didn't like that when the rpm got up while climbing a mountain!!!! It was white knuckled for a bit, until I got off the gas & was able to get a good grip on the wheel & pull over. Got that puppy home & put it up on stands & cycled the steering wheel lock to lock 40-50 times, until there wasn't any more bubbles in the pump reservoir.

With four qts of new fluid pumped through your system, it sounds like it's probably pretty clean. You might notice the pump whine going down or away, with new fluid in it.
On my Taurus, after a SeaFoam Trans tune treatment for a few days to stop some intermittent shudder & two qts of new fluid pumped through it & out the loosened return line , I got a side benifit I wasn't expecting, my 94 P/S pump has been quiet since, no more whine!!!!!
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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May end up putting a rack in it. Brake fluid has a tendency to swell seals way up then they fail.
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Old 06-12-2011, 12:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Did one slow 10-cycle bleed with the car shut off, then did three 20-cycle bleeds with the car running and the whining is completely gone. I did not use a vacuum pump, and had to add maybe 1/4 cup of fluid total during the bleed (started with reservoir to full cold)

Couple observations for anyone with the same problem...

When I did the first cycle with the car off, I watched the reservoir to ensure it didn't overflow, and I could see it bubbling a couple times

The whining only occurred when the bubbles where in the reservoir and going through the pump. If the fluid was clear of bubbles there was no noise...as I worked the steering, and air worked it's way back to the pump, it started whining again. After each cycle, the bubbles started getting smaller and fewer, and the noise less and less.

One thing I noted in my internet search of this problem is that some people have said just to drive it to let it bleed out. I don't think this is the greatest idea as I think the pump might be cavitating, which is source of the noise. If this is the case it is very stressful on the pump.

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Good feedback & to hear you seem to have things put right & are "on the road again"!!!! lol
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