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Power Steering Success... At Last!

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For those of you who have offered advice, and for those who had been reading the thread


with a mixture of curiosity, dread, disdain, and bemusement, I am happy to report that the power steering issue has been fixed!

I wish I could announce some radical, heretofore unheard of solution that would make the LOC nominate me for a Nobel prize, but in the end it was back to basics.

I had about given up and was staring at a new OEM power steering pump on EBay, when my miserly instincts reminded me I had not tried every possible (cheaper) option available, despite everything I had already done.

Yesterday, after pondering all that happened since that first flush, all that had been said to me by helpful LOC members, plus the recent leaking issue, plus the last dialogue with Hacmon, I concluded:

1. That the reservoir screen may not be as clean as it looks. It has always bothered me that prior to the first flush, all was well, and afterwards, PS was poor.

2. That driving around with only the 2 bolts holding down the reservoir was not wise, and I had to get the 3rd one on come hell (which came) or high water (which did not come).

3. As Hacmon noted, perhaps after 14 years the O-ring on the reservoir was ineffective and needed replacement, and after disturbing the reservoir it had become cracked.

So, desiring to avoid spending money on a new pump, I went into the garage at 8:00 AM for another round of surgery.

This time I removed the PS pulley for better access to the reservoir bracket bolts, and finally got the reservoir off. Blew it out through the bottom with brake cleaner, and A LOT of crap came out. Followed this up with Sea Foam, pouring it in while my fingers plugged the return port and the outlet and then shaking it like I was making a martini. A LOT more crap came out with this, too. Kept it up until I was out of solvents and the screen appeared to be as clean as I could get it. Quite a bit of the crap was from the bottom sides of the reservoir, so the screen was not entirely at fault, but after the cleaning considerably more light was shining through. I wish I had taken before and after pictures.

Next, I took the o-ring off. Never having seen a new one, I don’t know if this one was bad, but it appeared shrunken, and it did snap (break) when I took it off. Replaced it with an equivalent.

Reinstalled everything. My old nemesis, the reservoir bracket bolt nearest the distributor, was in fine form. Despite buying new adjustable ratchet wrenches for this purpose, and after using every conceivable angle, combination of tools, incantations, prayers, cuss words (including inventing a few new ones), etc. I simply could not get the damn thing started. The working area is extremely cramped and I could only get 2 fingers barely on the bolt. Yes, I considered (and actually began) removing all of the surrounding stuff to be able to take the cover off the distributor, but after looking at the pics on the tutorials decided I might not gain enough access after all of that.

I tried for two hours. While shelling peanuts and staring at the nearly completed job for 30 minutes, I decided to enlist the help of my wife upon her return form the store, She has longer fingers than I do, and even if she was not able to get the bolt started, at least it wouldn’t be me that was suffering and cursing.

She tried for 15 minutes and suggested removing the front bolt, as she thought there might not be 100% alignment on the top bracket hole/mounting hole. I loosened the front bolt to let her wiggle the reservoir a little, and 10 minutes later she announced “Guess what, I got it!”

My internal reaction was similar to when she told me she was pregnant the first time.

After pleading with her to make sure she keeps turning it the right way, we got a crescent wrench on it and began tightening it a hair-width at a time. Tedious, but thrilling all the same.

FINALLY, ON! No shake at all. Attached all the hoses, replacing the OEM clamp on the return hose with a stainless steel ring clamp, just to be safe. Added DexIII, and prepared to jack the car to get the tires off the ground for bleeding.

Since the car was ½ in the garage and it sits so low, I could not get any jacks under it… I would have to back it out to the driveway.

Got in, started it up, and noticed immediately the whine was gone. Kept my expectation low as I put it in reverse and backed out. The low-rpm steering was GREAT! My heart skipped several beats.

Full of amazement, I decided to drive it a block or two before bleeding the air. I was shocked to have the coveted one-finger steering others have enjoyed. Turning back into the drive way after the short jaunt, there was some groaning (expected, as it had not been bled). Jacked her up, went lock to lock 20+ times (the whine/groan stooped after the first wheel turn!), dropped her back down and went for another spin, and VOILA! Power steering! :D

So, at this time I would like to thank all of you who hung in there with me. Without your suggestions I would not have persevered. And I promised my wife I would thank her publicly in the Forum, so

Thank you, Rebecca! Now known as “Mom the Mechanic” in these parts.

I’m heading out now to give the car a good washing and clean the interior, then looking forward to a wonderful, sunny, Sunday drive… with power steering! Heaven… I’m in Heaven…. :P

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I’m heading out now to give the car a good washing and clean the interior, then looking forward to a wonderful, sunny, Sunday drive… with power steering! Heaven… I’m in Heaven…. :P

Congrats!.... :cheers:

(you are going to take your wife out for a nice dinner tonight, aren't you?) :whistles:

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So j.barleycorn, do you think the PS pump groaning and uneven power assist were caused by a partially blocked pump reservoir screen? If so, I'm a bit confused because I thought you had once said your PS system was behaving normally prior to your first attempt to clean the steering rack solenoid filter screen. In other words, was your PS system behaving normally several months ago despite a partially blocked pump reservoir and steering rack solenoid filter screens?

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T-cutter- Yes, we celebrated last night with a drive-in movie with the kids (Mission Impossible III). Popcorn and Mike and Ikes were on me!

Canopy- Thanks for the compliments...

Monarch- I suspect that prior to the first flush the reservoir screen was not blocked enough to alter the steering. I wonder if suctioning out the reservoir during the first flush (when I was definitely loosening up some nasty stuff) plus the flushing back over the reservoir screen impregnated the screen to the point it did not function? There's a chance I loosened crap from the bottom sides during that draining, and they settled in the middle of the screen (over the outlet).

I am convinced the solenoid, which was our favorite suspect the whole time, was always OK.

I am as amazed as you are. While there was definitely quite a bit of crap that came out of the reservoir once I had it removed and soaked with brake fluid/Sea Foam, I still did not think it was dirty enough to make the difference it made.

Lesson learned: If I don't know what something is supposed to look like, I can't know if it is good or bad by looking at it! When it doubt, do it anyway (in this case, clean the damn screen the first time!)

Thanks again to all of you. Now, on to the next great adventure/debacle: the A/C recharge/repair!

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An EPIC saga, with a great ending. Thank you also for all of the info on what did and did not work. Prior to your last post. I wanted to clean and fill my 93ls, but was a bit scared to poss. get into the problems that you had. Now I am looking forward to getting the reward that you have obtained.

Thank you!

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I love it when a solution to a vexing problem comes from a headslapper insight from someone you don't expect.

For example: not car related, but funny nonetheless. A neighbor kid when I was little caught a frog, and he wanted to show it to his dad. The frog jumped out of his hands and fell down the hole for a flagpole. Little kid calls his dad for help; dad's an aerospace engineer, so he should come to the rescue, right? Dad tried for an hour with Rube Goldberg attempts to get the frog out. No go. Little kid sighs, and brings the garden hose over and fills the hole with water. Frog floated to the top and hopped away. Dad slapped his forehead and went back inside. :blushing:

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