Power Steering


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

MalloryOJ Junior Member posted February 15, 2003 08:19 PM

I have an 86 Westy and I need to add steering fluid. When I open the red cap for the reservoir and pour in some fluid, it spills over and does not go into the reservoir. I know it is not full---it is empty in fact. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be opening the larger black top and putting the fluid in there? I tried to open that but wasn't sure if it is made to open and I did not want to break it. Any help or advice would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Mallory
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The smaller, center cap in the P/S reservoir is the breather. It has a filter in it so fluid will not pass freely, thus your 'overflow' when trying to pour a large quantity of fluid.

To add fluid, remove the entire cap.

That fluid is not 'filtering' through the smaller one, indicates it is probably overdue for a cleaning. The P/S resrvoir also contains a ceramic, cleanable filter. This should be removed and cleaned along with the change of fluid every 30K miles as recommended in the Maintenance Schedule posted elsewhere on this site.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
There are two methods, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

If this is just a routine fluid change as part of the recommendedation most of us follow of changing every 30,000 miles along with cleaning filter, getting it "all" is not that important.

Remove reservoir cap (larger one -- small is just a breather) and filter. Syphon as much fluid as possible with a bulb-syringe -- availalbe at any auto parts store. Have a partner turn the steering from lock-to-lock (requires front on jackstands) while you syphon additional fluid as it's pumped into the reservoir. When you are no longer getting fluid, then just refill reservoir. Repeat lock-to-lock and top-off as system bleeds out. Check level after a day or two.

If the system has failed and you have debris or metal chips, then you will have to disconnect lines at the rack. This is rare -- if that happens, chances are the rack is already damaged. You can vacuum syphon fluid from the lines. The inexpensive Mighty Mite brake bleeding kits at most parts stores will suffice.

If you've just obtained a Westy that looks like it hasn't been changed in years, you can repeat the maintenance fluid change a couple of times before settling into a 30K interval.

The filter is ceramic and cleanable. Use a soft brush to dremove surface contaminates and then a good parts washer; blow dry with compressed air. Followed by a no-residue degreaser like the spray cans of brake cleaner and allow to redry. If in doubt, replace. Also clean the mesh breather pad in the reservoir cap.
 

westfaliarage

New member
Hey Everyone,

I have a very small leak coming out the shaft of my power steering pump and there is some in/out play in the pulley. Has anyone had experience rebuilding the pump? It "seems" easy when looking at the Bentley manual. It is WAY cheaper to rebuild then to buy a rebuilt one. I don't have to add fuild for the the leak but my wife is going on a little road trip without me and I don't want her to have any problems.

87 Vanagon Westfalia,

Thanks all, David
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
In this day & age of reman facilities, are you sure it's cheaper long-run to rebuild yourself than get a reman? The reason I ask this question is that obtaining internal rebuild parts almost always puts you at the dealer paying retail, whereas the reman facilites do it in such volume -- especially if you are willing to go aftermarket -- they often compete with the parts price and most come with some sort of warranty.

It's often a mistake to assume a 'small leak' is soley the result of the seal. You may find your pump shaft scored. Even if you can get the seal reasonable, I doubt the shaft would be easy or cheap to obtain.

Once apart, it would be foolish to rebuilt without replace the other seals and wear parts, for instance the odd-shapped valve plate seal -- surely not available except through a dealer (if even then anymore) -- and examing/testing your pressure flow limiting valve and the rotor vanes. And what if, after you are all finished, you make that final check in the Bentley, "If maximum pump pressure is not obtained (per page 48.17) . . . replace complete power steering pump."

I guess last is to ask how confident are you of your work and what's your time worth to you? I'll make up numbers -- I have NOT checked any! -- but if I can get a reman pump with warranty for $75 vs. ordering $25 worth of parts and adding an hour to the job, I'll take the reman. My time AND the warranty are worth the $50 diff.
 

howzbayou

New member
I think this is a power steering question..I just got an 87 Westy GL and the nice person whom I bought it from told me that her mechanic advised her to replace the U joint in the steering column. I took it to my VW place and they concurred. It's a bit pricey and was wondering is this a 'must fix' or a 'wait til it fails' type repair...
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Like anything in the steering, a complete failure could leave you without any control and to an accident. Without knowing what is worn or damaged, the fact that two sources are confirming the part needs replacing, it is wise to err on the side of staying out of the ditch.

However, you use the term "VW Place"; is this a dealer or just some local shop? With dealers, you have the right to get your old part back for examination and some recourse if there is nothing wrong with it.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
FYI: In answering the above, I ran across a personal note in my shop manual worth passing on. VW has managed to drop the clamps for the boots on the P/S parts fiche. I thought the below parts numbrs & specs might help:

Small end, P/N N023 554 1, clamp A7x39

Large end, P/N N024 504 4, clamp LC40-60.
 

howzbayou

New member
thanks! I'll pass the info along to the mechanic. And yes I'm going ahead with the replacement of the U joint. Trying to work off this 'Junior Member' status!
 

howzbayou

New member
pretty funny, I told the mechanics about the part #'s a few days ago and they nodded and shrugged. Then yesterday they called to tell me they had to order another part to finish the job...guess what part?...the brackets for the steering column...the same ones that that Capt. Mike advised earlier!

I guess the lesson here is when replacing the U joint, make sure they order the brackets too...
 

Pease

New member
Capt:
I recently had a new power steering rack installed on my 91 vanagon. About a year or two later the steel hose has sprung a leak and can no longer hold the fluid under any pressure. I disconnected the ps belt and the steering is not bad at all. Certainly it is safe and manageable and similar to non-ps. Is this because it is a new rack?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Look at diagram #48-525, Bentley pg 48.6. P/S also performs the lubrication function and assists in the centering function. When working the valve housing directs assistance to one side or the other of the work piston. The system is designed so that the fluid pushed out of the off-turn side balances the fluid pumped into the turning side via the reservoir. When the system dies, the first symptom is usually considerable harder steering because the fluid has to be pushed manually back through the valve housing and pump. Also reduction of self-centering.

When the fluid is all leaked out of the housing and pump, but still filling the pinion housing, you basically have manual steering with the above problem of pushing fluid from one side to the other.

When the fluid loss is so low that there is little or no fluid in the pinion housing, you then have something close to original manual steering, though usually at a lesser mechanical advantage because most P/S systems are geared lower because of the assist.

However, you have now lost most of your lubrication and will shortly destroy the rack and permanently damage the work piston & pinion housing. At that point, steering will become much harder and eventually fail.

In a manual system, the rack and the drive-end of the steering column are in a steering box filled with lubricant. The exterior articulating parts of the system -- relay arm, idler arm, tie rods, steering damper -- all have their own bushings or lubrication. There is no fluid balancing or pump & check-valves in the system.

Obviously, I recommend you repair the system as a safety issue. I only hope you haven't permanently damaged the steering rack, work piston or pinion housing already. Removing P/S from the vehicle to switch to manual involves replacing the entire steering mechanism from column end down all the way to the steering knuckle.
 

Pease

New member
Cpt Mike:
It turns out I did not do it any damage. I found a pinhole leak in the return line in the wheel arch area. I have replaced that section of line with hydraulic hose and clamps. I am making future plans to replace both entire lines but right now it is well below zero and I don't have a heated garage. The power steering works great, hopefully I haven't shortened the life any. One curious thing is when I opened the power steering reservoir I noticed that the ceramic filter was gone. I am 90% sure I had one there and the only thing I can conclude is that it disintegrated as it is so brittle and got sucked by the pressure into the line and then out through the leak. I have flushed the system once and will flush it again and replace the ceramic element. I am optimistic it didn't do any damage and it does not appear to have but it sure is a strange thing to have happened.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
It's the other 10%. Someone pulled the filter to look, remove fluid, check for sediment or something and set it aside while they did something else like clean the filter in the cap and then just forgot it. Parts left over -- happens all the time to the best of us. Probably still in a parts washer somewhere. Just put in a new one.
 

icarus

Moderator
Extra parts? What's the big deal. I have a whole shop full of parts that wouldn't go back in what I took apart. Things run fine, a bit of noise now and again but life is an adventure. Didn't need em anyway!

Icarus

(Just kidding)
 

pipersnuki

New member
I have an '85 Westy, with a power steering fluid leak. Basically about every three months it starts squeeking when I turn the wheel. I usually check the reservoir, and find it a little low. Topping off makes it better for a few months.
However, on a trip to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, I noticed in the cold weather it starting leaking out of the top of the reservoir/breather cap (the red cap on top). There is a small pinhole there, and when I start up on cold mornings, it just comes frothing out? Any help would be great.
Thanks,
Matthiasmzinn@nc.rr.com
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
You are probably due for an overhaul of the power steering. That you leak indicates the seals are hardened or shot and that often indicates the pistons are also scored. If your boots are torn, you can count on it. Replacing seals is one of those jobs where R&R of the rack with a reman is the usual route.

Squeeking means the fluid is low enough that the rack and pinion or P/S pump are getting air. The valve housing or pump may now be damaged.

The small hole in the red cap of the reservoir is the breather. It's normal to have some 'wetness' around it but no actual fluid flow. Fluid leak indicates you are having pressure or air foaming problems such that it is forced to abnormally vent. Check pump pressure per Bentley 48.7 Also check your filter -- they are cleanable but only to a limited extent. A clogged filter will cause the vent symptom as well.

The Vanagon uses ATF, not P/S fluid. See your owner's manual and the Bentley. You'll note that changing P/S fluid every 30k miles is recommended by many members. Being an open-to-air reservoir system, it oxidizes and begins to accumulate moisgure and contaminates. Thus the change recommendations.
 

Abquid

New member
I recently had the power steering pump and rack replaced--it works fine now and doesn't lose any fluid, but makes a lot of noise, more the further I have the wheels cranked over.

The noise is that sort of groaning/whining noise power steering often makes, but louder and more continuous than normal to my mind. Definitely more than it made before I had leaks and had the parts replaced.

Any ideas on what could be causing this, and if so what I could do about it? porpentine@sbcglobal.net
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
What year & model? See Guidelines!

I'd agree a too-tight belt can cause a groaning and will damage the pump. And never use a belt dressing -- they work by disolving the belt to make it tacky. I would check what type of fluid your mechanic used. The Vanagon requires ATF, not power steering fluid. See your Bentley. This is an exception to other VW models.
 

Top