Power Steering problem: hose or pump or? 1998 Chevy Prizm

  • 1998 CHEVROLET
Short version:
1998 Chevy Prizm, 75,000: steering is jumpy at low speeds. Steering fluid is full, and there is no noise from the pump. Pressure hose is oily.

longer version:

I loaned my car to friend for a few months; when I got it back I eventually noticed a whirring noise when steering. The steering fluid reservoir was empty and had been for at least several days of my driving. I put in some steering fluid (this fixed the whirring noise) and then checked it periodically to see if it would leak out quickly. I may have topped it off once shortly after first refilling it, but the fluid level hasn't moved noticeably in the past month or more (although I only drive maybe 100 miles/month). I slightly overfilled it initially and it is still at or above the full mark.

The steering vibrates when driving at low speed (but I don't recall it doing so noticeably at high speed). Not constant smooth vibration; rather, it feels kind of rough and jumpy; the car keeps going straight ahead, so I'm wondering if I'm just feeling the bumps in the road through the steering wheel. (I didn't used to.)

The power steering pressure hose is very oily near its connection to the power steering pump. I've wiped it dry and come back to find it oily again. The hose also has a visible loosening of its outer layer in one spot (looks like a bubble). So the hose definitely looks like it needs to be replaced, just based on the bubble thing. The question is whether it's likely that I'll need to do the power steering pump also, or possibly even something else entirely.

1) Is there any way to figure out whether the pump is at fault without buying a replacement pump? Would the observed jumpy-ness in steering result from just a bad hose?
2) What's a ballpark figure for what a replacement pressure hose should cost? A replacement pump? Are remanufactured pumps worth the cost savings?
3) Could you briefly summarize what I need to do to replace the hose? It seems like I should suck out the fluid and then loosen the bolt on the pump side and replace; and then there is probably a connection on the other side that I unscrew as well. The reason I ask is that the garage next to school quoted 1.5 hours of labor to do the work, whereas if it's as simple as I said then it seems like it should take me maybe 45 minutes and wouldn't likely take them much more than 30 minutes.

Thanks a bunch! :-)
Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, November 24th, 2006 AT 6:10 AM

1 Reply

Sounds like it needs a rack and pinion
Was this
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007 AT 8:11 AM

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