1996 Honda Civic



October, 14, 2009 AT 5:27 PM

Steering problem
1996 Honda Civic 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 161000 miles

Twice in the last few months have replaced the ignition switch in the steering column because the key would not turn. After determing that if enough turning pressure is put on steering wheel, then key will turn. Mechanic has decided problem is not with ignition switch but with steering system and the position the steering wheel is in when the ignition is turned off. Car seems to be losing its power steering gradually in the last few months. Fluid in reservoir is adequate. Mechanic believes there must be a blockage somewhere, either in the in power steering pump and/or hoses, or in the power steering rack. He wants to replace both the power steering pump and the power steering rack, to the tune of $1,800. Does this seem reasonable?


Rack And Pinion


Rack And Pinion


3 Answers



October, 14, 2009 AT 5:30 PM

Your mechanic doesn't sound like a very good mechanic, in my opinion.

He should run a proper diagnosis before claiming you need a power steering pump and/or steering rack. Both are not cheap jobs, and require diagnosis before replacement.

Bring the vehicle to a qualified shop for a proper diagnosis.



October, 14, 2009 AT 5:50 PM

Dear F4I_guy,
Your response to my problem was interesting, but not very helpful. Assuming I can find a " qualified shop" what sort of a " proper diagnosis" did you have in mind? I'm confused. Thanks for your help.



October, 17, 2009 AT 7:32 PM

Hi Eugene11,

I would agree that your mechanic is not up to the mark.

To your first part regarding the ignition key.

When the ignition key it removed from the lock, turning the steering wheel would lock it and when there is pressure on the locking tab, it would be difficult to turn the key unless pressure is released by turning the steering wheel.

The locked position of the steering wheel would depend on where the locking tab is when the steering column shaft is installed. Some vehicles may lock in the straight forward position, some slightly off and can vary to almost 180 degrees turn of the steering wheel.

This is not a problem and you should note where the steering is in the locked position. When parking, turn steering away from the locked position and you would not have this problem. Most often this occurs when leaving the vehicle. While getting off, the steering is usually used as leverage to get out and during this time, the steering wheel is tqurned to the locked position.

Alternative way is to disconnect the lower steering coupling and turn the steering wheel before reattaching the coupling. Remove the steering wheel and reinstall in the centralised position after test driving to confirm.

Take note that it would still lock if you do not keep the steering wheel away from the locked position.

In my so many years of Honda repairs, I have yet to come across a power steering rack that fails when no leakages are found.

Improper tire inflation would cause heavier seerings. So do oversized tires.
Bad upper or lower arm ball joints are possible causes.

Even if there are problems with the system, the more likely fault would be the pump which can be replaced individually and a simpler job.

Do you have any whining noise when engine is running and noise changes when the steering is turned?

To perform test on the steering, you would need pressure gauges to test the pump pressure.

What gives you the implication that the steering is loosing its effectiveness?

Have you perfprmed any test to determine the effort needed to turn the steering wheel?

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