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Hi! 2000 Ford Taurus w Vulcan engine. I recently disconnected the lines to the power steering pump. I didn't have any power steering issues, but I had to replace the bracket that the power steering pump (and idler pulley) is bolted to because the idler pulley bolt threads got stripped. Long story short, air got in the power steering system, and I've been trying unsuccessfully to bleed it out. Here are the details:

  • New low pressure return hose (this one) with new clamps
  • New teflon seal (this one) for high pressure power steering line (followed
    for install)
  • Front of car is jacked up so wheels can turn freely
  • I bought a MityVac vacuum pump, and applied vacuum. During this process, I:
    • See bubbles popping in the power steering reservoir
    • Notice that vacuum never reaches anything past 15mmHg (Tested the vacuum of the MityVac by putting my thumb over the power steering vacuum adapter, and it holds vacuum up to 20mmHg) and the vacuum level drops constantly until about 5mmHg.
    • See the level in the power steering reservoir sometimes goes down after I release vacuum (indicating I actually got some air out of the system), but most of the time returns to its level before vacuum.
    • Checked all of the connections (two for the low pressure return line, one high pressure return line with a new teflon seal) and see no issues
    • Still can't hold any vacuum above 5mmHg
This process was driving me insane; I've put over 30 hours into this... so I tried a new approach:

  • I put my vacuum bleed adapter cap on the reservoir, with its hose going into a bottle filled with Mercon V.

    • Turn the steering wheel from lock to lock
    • See bubbles go into the bottle, and power steering fluid comes back
    • Continue until the line is completely full of power steering fluid and see no more bubbles
    • Start engine, everything gets sucked back into reservoir.
    • See no identifiable leaks anywhere
The thing that's driving me insane is this: If I'm applying vacuum, and losing it, I should expect the level of the power steering fluid to drop after I release vacuum. I'm not seeing that happen. If the seal between my adapter and the power steering reservoir were weak, it wouldn't cause the bubbling in the fluid--the air would just get in from outside the pump. Where is that bubbling air coming from? How on earth do I get the vacuum pump to hold 20mmHg of vacuum? There were no issues with power steering before this, so I feel like I'm just making things worse.

Does anybody have an idea where I should look to troubleshoot the problem?

 

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Maybe the vacuum is pulling in air around the shaft seal on the pump. Neat concept but I have only heard of bleeding the system by elevating the front end and turning stop to stop a bunch of times (engine not running) to push the air out.
 

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As I remember from doing the vacuum bleed process myself, similar car, same issues ...

I had to pull a good strong vacuum with an automotive vacuum tool, and built a special custom P/S pump CAP to hook up the tool.

Yes, it was a PAIN, and it took about 6 times doing the procedure, until it finally bled all the air out and work correctly, permanently.

I would do a bleed, and a few rides later - same symptoms and air again in the system.

I just kept doing the VAC BLEED - until it finally seemed to work.

Then, never had problem after that - for long long time / ever now.

And yes, I had to jack up front end each time and move wheels from lock to lock.

Suggest: Get the right Automotive VAC tool so you can pull a full strong vacuum, as specified in the procedure.

[ Ya, there might be something else wrong, like a seal, and pulling in air from somewhere .. which would not be "good" ]

... try to do it Correctly ... and don't give up ... try multiple times.

Otherwise ... if that fails... take it to an expert, explain problem, and get them to have a look and let you know what they think .
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe the vacuum is pulling in air around the shaft seal on the pump. Neat concept but I have only heard of bleeding the system by elevating the front end and turning stop to stop a bunch of times (engine not running) to push the air out.
I took a look at the shaft seal on the pump and compared it to the one I had before, and I noticed the one installed in the car actually had the old teflon seal stuck in there... it was hard to see until I removed the shaft. Comparing the two, the inner seals look healthy, but the outer seals... my old one was definitely better. Going to install the old one on the new pump and lube the seals up with some Mercon so they don't chafe on install. Then we'll see how well it holds vacuum :)


I had to pull a good strong vacuum with an automotive vacuum tool, and built a special custom P/S pump CAP to hook up the tool.

Yes, it was a PAIN, and it took about 6 times doing the procedure, until it finally bled all the air out and work correctly, permanently.
Perseverance is the name of the game! I'm 30 hours into this, and even though it's difficult I'm trying to keep a good attitude. Got a mityvac silverline elite on the way and plenty of Mercon to get this bleed job done. Wish me luck!
 
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