1997 Ford Explorer Power Stearing

Tiny
MCAT7
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 FORD EXPLORER
  • 4.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 130,000 MILES
Wife told me that the power steering in her Ford Explorer was getting stiff. She checked and added a small amount of power steering fluid to top off the reservoir.
The problem was still there. Seemed that the steering was stiff when turning sharply out of the driveway at low engine RPM.
I purchased some belt dressing and got some on the serpentine belt as the engine was running. I took the Explorer to Huntington (about 40 miles, mostly two lane highway and ten to fifteen minutes city driving) for a doctors appointment and the steering was some better but still was stiff when turning sharply at city street corners and in parking lots.
When I returned home I had my wife start and stop the engine to completely coat the inside of the serpentine belt with spray-on belt dressing.
The next day I had to return to the doctors office for a follow-up appointment (cataract surgery) and discovered the steering was not any better.
When I left the doctors office I heard a rattle sound either in the dash or under the hood. I had just had my eyes dialated and it was late dusk. I had to use my headlights and heater (it was cold out). I was concerned about driving with the glare of the other cars on the road headlights. When I was a short mile from the freeway across town when I noticed that the red battery warning light was on. The steering was quite stiff but manageable on fairly straight roads. I drove the 40 or so miles home with no heat and was happy the lights stayed brightly on.
This morning I drove across the small towns I live in, about 3 miles of city streets, to the Auto Zone store and purchased a new serpentine belt and a lifetime guaranteed rebuilt power steering pump. Returned to close to home a garage/filling station to have the mechanic replace the power steering pump and serpentine belt.
The mechanic just called and said the pump wasn't any good as the steering was still very stiff. He suggested the rack and pinion unit might be bad. He called Auto Zone and they didn't have another power steering pump but would have one in the morning.
My main question is: Could I have hurt the rack and pinion unit, or any valves in the rack and pinion unit by driving the Explorer as much as I did?
Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance,
Bruce
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Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 AT 1:02 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
More then likely you just had a bad rack and pion and not a bad power steering pump. If they had a power steering pressure tester they could have tested the pressure of the power steering pump to see if it was good.
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Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 AT 1:31 PM
Tiny
MCAT7
  • MEMBER
Thank you Saturntech9!

Auto Zone delivered a new rebuilt power steering pump to the garage/filling station this morning as the one put on yesterday did not fix the power steering problem. We were 'shooting in the dark' supposing the first rebuilt pump was bad. This happened before I got your email reply to my question.

The mechanic from the garage/filling station just called and said the new power steering pump had corrected the steering problem. Obviously the first Auto Zone Lifetime Guarantee Rebuilt Power Steering Pump was defective.

Thank goodness that the rack and pinion was not the problem! Just before Christmas is not a good time to have the extra expense of a broke down vehicle.
Your statement about the power steering pressure tester hit the nail right on the head.

As the chief electrician/mechanic in a Coal Washer Plant I should have remembered that good trouble shooting is the key to proper mechanical repair. My 69 year old mind was slipping.

Your assistance and knowledge is greatly appreciated. I am remembering all the times that I had to teach new electricians the proper way to trouble shoot. If I would have thought that there must be a way to check the function of a power steering pump (I did not know there was a pressure tester for power steering pumps) I would have saved all of us involved in the power steering problem a lot of time and effort.

Again I thank you for reminding me of using proper trouble shooting techniques.
Bruce
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 AT 11:11 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Your welcome glad to hear it was a easy fix everyone needs help sometime in there life thats what were here for. Hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 AT 12:17 PM
Tiny
MCAT7
  • MEMBER
Saturntech9, Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Again, thank you.
Bruce
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 AT 12:56 PM

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