Hard Steering

Tiny
CARL JOHNSON
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 2.5L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 236,000 MILES
Hard steering. Smooth, but not as easy as it should be. Sprayed half a can of WD40 on the u-joint but, did not help. Sucked the reservoir dry about five times and added Pyrroil power steering fluid each time but, that did not help either. There are no noises. The fact that it is still smooth indicates to me it is not the u joint. Also, no noises indicates probably not the pump. So, I am left with the rack. Can you give me your opinions and advice? Thank you.
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 4:09 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Your car uses the "ZF"-style power steering pump which has a history of becoming weak due to worn vanes. There are two clues to look for. The first is the power assist will come back when you raise engine speed slightly. The second is the lack of power assist affects turning in both directions equally.

When internal leakage occurs in the rack and pinion's spool valve, it almost always affects turning in just one direction first, then in the other direction a few weeks later. That loss of assist is intermittent and will go away when the power steering fluid warms up. Power assist will return at first within less than a minute, but the problem will get worse over time. Eventually there will be no power assist in either direction. For this cause, raising engine speed never helps.

Your observation of no noise also points to the pump. With worn vanes, it is not doing anything, just like if the belt driving it was broken. When you hear a buzzing noise, that is the pressure-relief valve vibrating open and closed. That is related to fluid pressure, and pressure is only built up when the pump is working. Air in the system will cause that valve to vibrate too, but again, only when the pump is building pressure.
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 4:42 PM
Tiny
CARL JOHNSON
  • MEMBER
Okay, so you think it is the pump. How difficult is it to change?
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 5:01 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Never did one on your model. On most cars the pulley must be removed with a special tool, then transferred to the new pump. A bolt and nut, or a different special tool is needed to press the pulley onto the new pump. How far it is pressed on is critical. If it is off by as little as 1/16", that will set up a horrendous belt squeal.
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Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 9:49 PM
Tiny
CARL JOHNSON
  • MEMBER
Oh, God! I guess I got to go to the Nissan dealer. I will call my bank and get a loan. Thanks for your help.
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Saturday, June 17th, 2017 AT 5:58 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Hello,

Once you have the puller which you can rent for free at the auto parts store the job is not that bad. Here is a guide that will show you what you are in for when doing the job.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/remove-reinstall-power-steering-pulley

and

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-replace-a-power-steering-pump

Please let us know what happens.

Cheers, Ken

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Saturday, June 17th, 2017 AT 12:36 PM

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