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Steering
There are a few things you can check when it comes to steering.

Balancing.
Each wheel, especially the front wheels, have to be balanced so that no vibration occurs. This is usually done on a machine which spins the wheel and detects any imbalance in the wheel/tyre. Small lead weights are then added at the appropriate places to counter the imbalance so that the wheel spins smoothly.
Signs that your wheels may need balancing are vibrations through your steering wheel at certain speeds. Note a constant vibration at all speeds could be more serious than just a balance problem. Due to the need of a
machine then it is best to take your car to a tyre center or garage that performs wheel balancing. It is usually inexpensive and can even be part of the service when buying new tyres for your car.

Alignment.
The alignment of the wheels is important to stop uneven tread wear and improve handling of the car. Signs that you need the wheels aligning are partially scrubbed tyres or wear lines where only a portion of your tyres tread has been worn away. Alignment lines the wheels up so that they are both parallel to each other +/- the required angle as stipulated by the manufacturer.

Tracking.
As with alignment the wheels must be at the correct angle from the ground as stipulated by the manufacturer. The angle from 90° is called towing and can be IN or OUT.

Balancing, tracking/alignment are all needed to ensure good road handling, even tyre wear and smooth motoring.

Checking for wear.
Under normal circumstances your car should drive straight but the car will tend to follow the camber of the road.(ie pull to the kerb because of the drainage slant of the road.) If your car pulls unnaturally to one side of the other then you need to check all of the above but it can be due to accident damage. The distance from the center of the back wheel to the center of the front wheel should be exactly the same on both sides of the car. If it is not then it is probably due to an impact pushing one of the wheels back. Small descrepancies can be sorted with adjustment but larger ones can indicate suspension/chassis damage.
Normal wear and tear will eventually cause sloppy steering. to test this turn the wheel quickly from side to side.The steering should feel constant without gaps. make sure that the tyres turn for every touch of the steering wheel and there are no knocking noises or lack of movement.
Lack of movement or knocking noises usually means a worn steering rack and might need replacement. If you have power steering then perform these tests with the engine running. Check for fluid leaks and excessive noise when turning your steering to eithrt full lock.

If you find any leaks, have your car inspected by a mechanic - if the power steering starts leaking, it will stop working soon. If the car has rack & pinion type steering mechanism , try to check both of steering boots they should not be damaged. If any of them has some damage, it has to be replaced - have your car inspected.

Power steering fluid levels

The power steering fluid reservoir usually has a small dipstick underneath the cap. Check this level as with any dipstick and replace fluid as necessary. Do not fill unless fluid is below minimum. The need to fill the reservoir is unusual and if the oil drops below the minimum level more than twice a year then you should have it checked by a qualified mechanic. Low reveler levels can cause damage to your power steering and is usually accompanied by a low grinding noise when fully turning the steering wheel at slow speeds

Tips: Check the fluid level and the power steering belt if you hear a squeal when you turn the wheel all the way to one side. Take the car into a mechanic if the steering is stiff. Keep in mind that although drifting or shuddering may signal problems with the steering system, these symptoms may also relate to the car's tires, suspension, brakes or other front-end problems

Warnings: Power steering fluid does not get "used up" - other than a leak, there's no reason that the fluid should be low. Fill the reservoir to the proper level and check frequently if you find it low. If it continues to be low, check for leaks and go see your mechanic. An empty power steering pump can be damaged very quickly and is costly to replace.

Power Steering Maintenance

Inspection and replacement of defective power steering hoses is essential for driver safety and eliminates the expensive repairing or replacing of the steering pump or other components.

Hoses should be replaced after 20,000 to 24,000 miles as preventive maintenance.  During that time and mileage, the hoses loose their effectiveness and are subject to failure.

Causes of Wear

Power Steering Hoses are subjected to far greater stresses and wear in the late model cars than they were in early vehicles.  Pump operating pressures have increased from 650-900 P.S.I. to 900-1450 P.S.I. Operating temperatures now range between 150-250 degrees F. Later model cars are equipped with power steering pump oil coolers to control this heat.

High temperature pulsations cause power steering hoses to deteriorate from the inside.  The constant flexing and pressure surges result in the breaking off of small particles of hose, which are carried through the entire system.  This can cause the strainer to clog and valves to stick, resulting in system malfunction.

Repair Kits

Custom designed power steering repair kits are supplied for all of the major components of the Integral, Linkage and Rack and Pinion Systems.

Contaminated System

Guidelines For Inspection and Service

Replacement of power steering hose is warranted when visual inspection indicates the following:

Brittleness Or Hardness:  An early sign of internal wear: the hose has lost its ability to absorb pressure surges.

Soft, Spongy Hose:  A more serious sign of wear, indicating advanced internal deterioration and probable leakage.

Leakage Of Power Steering Fluid:  Is easily detected by visual inspection of the hose at the end fittings.

External Wear And Abrasion:  Caused by contact with manifold or other engine parts, calls for replacement and realignment of hose.

Thick, Sludgy Fluid in Pump Reservoir:  Indicates internal hose wear and need for a complete flush of system.

Some signs of wear are noticeable to the driver, including noise or excessive vibration when turning or hard turning in either direction.  These are danger symptoms calling for a test of the system and replacement of parts as required.

Diagnostic Chart

 Condition

Possible Cause 

Correction 

Hard Steering  Low tire pressure  Inflate tires to correct pressure 
  Improper front suspension alignment  Re-align to specifications 
  High internal leakage (pump or gear)  Check pump pressure; replace affected pump parts or replace complete pump 
  Low oil level in reservoir  Add recommended type of P/S oil to proper level 
  Pump belt loose or glazed  Tighten or replace belt 
  Lack of lubricant in suspension or ball joints  Lubricate or replace parts as needed 
  Overcenter adjustment too tight  Readjust to specifications 
  Spool valve or flow control valve plugged or sticking  Clean or replace as required 
  Steering gear coupler to column is misaligned  Align steering column 
Momentary increase in steering wheel effort when turned rapidly  Fluid level low in reservoir  Check level; Add recommended type of P/S oil to proper level 
  Pump belt slipping  Tighten or replace belt 
  High internal leakage  Check pump pressure; replace affected pump parts or replace complete pump  
Steering wheel surges or jerks with engine running, especially at slow speeds  Pump belt loose  Tighten or replace belt 
  Low oil level in reservoir  Check level; Add recommended type of P/S oil to proper level 
  Engine idle too slow  Raise idle as required 
  Air in the system  Check all P/S hose connections and pump for leaks 
  Insufficient pump pressure  Check pump pressure; replace affected pump parts or replace complete pump  
  Flow control valve sticks  Check valve for dirt or burrs; replace as needed 
  Steering linkage hitting obstruction  Locate obstruction and repair 
  Sticky flow control valve  Inspect for varnish or damage; clean or replace as necessary 
Excessive steering wheel return or loose steering  Air in the system  Add P/S fluid to system and bleed the system; check all connections and hoses for leaks 
  Excessive overcenter lash  Adjust to specifications 
  Loose steering gear mounting  Retourque mounting bolts 
  Steering linkage is worn or damaged  Inspect and replace affected parts 
  Steering coupler is loose or damaged  Inspect, tighten or replace as required 
  Loose thrust bearing preload adjustment  Adjust to specifications 
  Loose or damaged front wheel bearings  Inspect, adjust or replace as required 
Vehicle wandering from side to side  Front end misaligned  Check and align to specifications 
  Worn front end parts or wheel bearings  Inspect and replace affected parts 
  Unbalanced or badly worn steering gear control valve  Inspect and replace affected parts  
Poor steering wheel return  Tires underinflated  Inflate tires to correct pressure  
  Steering gear adjustment too tight  Check adjustment with pitman arm disconnected; readjust if necessary 
  Front end misaligned  Check and align to specifications  
  Steering coupler misaligned, hitting obstruction or damaged  Inspect, adjust or replace affected parts  
  Binding or lack of lubrication in steering linkage or ball joints Inspect, lubricate or replace affected parts
  Sticky or plugged steering gear spool valve  Clean or replace 
  Internal leakage in steering gear  Inspect seals, replace as required or overhaul steering gear 

Power Steering System Noises

 Condition

Possible Cause 

Correction 

Hissing Noise Some hissing noise is normal in all power steering systems.  Under certain conditions, such as tight parking maneuvers or turning the wheel from stop to stop, a hissing sound is most noticable.  There is no direct relationship to the hissing noise and the performance of the steering system. Nothing required
  Control valve of power steering pump may be sticking in bore Replace the pump contol valve only if the hissing noise is extremely objectionable.  Check the coupler on the steering column for any metal to metal contact that may transmit the sound to the passenger compartment. 
Grear Squawk  Damper "O" ring on spool valve is cut Replace "O" ring
Growling  Restriction in the power steering system Locate restriction and correct; replace parts as necessary
  Extreme wear on cam ring Replace affected parts 
  Scored pump pressure plate, thrust plate or rotor Replace affected parts  
Groan  Fluid level low in reservoir Check level and fill to specifications
  Air in the system Check connections and hoses for leaks; repair and bleed the system 
Pump swish sound  Defective pump control valve Inspect valve for burrs or nicks; replace as necessary 
Pump whine Pump shaft bushing or bearing is scored or worn  Inspect pump shaft, bushing or bearing; replace affected parts 
Belt squeal or chirp  Belt glazed or loose Adjust or replace belt
Rattle or chuckle  Pressure hose coming in contact with other paets of car Reposition power steering pressure hose
  Loose pump or steering gear mounting Retorque to specifications
  Loose steering linkage Inspect steering linkage for excessive play; replace affected parts as necessary
  High point on steering gear improperly adjusted Readjust to proper setting
  Improperly installed pump vanes Inspect, adjust or replace affected parts  
  Pump vanes sticking in rotor slots Remove burrs and varnish from rotor and vanes, replace as necessary
Power Steering Article Courtesy of stant.com
CTC
 
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