Steering

Tiny
TIMOTHY J RILEY
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
  • 2.4L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 102,000 MILES
My daughter was driving, tried to turn left and car would not turn. Still turns right. Any ideas?
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Monday, March 20th, 2017 AT 9:05 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Do you mean the steering cannot be turned at all to the left, or it just turns real hard with no power assist? If you turn fully to the right with the car standing still, how hard is it to turn it back straight?
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Monday, March 20th, 2017 AT 2:38 PM
Tiny
TIMOTHY J RILEY
  • MEMBER
It will not turn left at all. Stiff turning right and center.
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Monday, March 20th, 2017 AT 4:22 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I am still not clear. If it turns easily all the way to the right, then turns hard coming back to center, that is an issue with the spool valve in the rack and pinion steering gear. Internal leakage is allowing the pressurized power steering fluid to bypass the power piston in the rack. We call that "morning sickness" because it first shows up when the engine is cold, (typically in the morning), and the loss of power assist clears up after anywhere from 15 seconds to a few minutes, as the fluid warms up. The clue is the power assist is still good one way. That proves the pump is okay. This always affects turning only one way first, then the other way a few weeks or months later.

GM had a real big problem with morning sickness in the late '80s and early '90s. Their "fix" was to replace the spool valve with its Teflon seals as a cheap way to alleviate the symptoms in hopes it would get the car out of the 50,000-mile warranty. After that, when the problem occurred again, it was up to the owners to pay for the proper repair.

Those Teflon sealing rings wore grooves into the soft aluminum spool valve housing, and that's why the fluid was able to bypass them. Installing the new valve with its new rings didn't address those grooves. The aftermarket re-builders have done a real good job of solving this problem. They bore the housing a little bigger, then press in a stainless steel liner.

The additional clue to this problem is you will be able to turn to the left easier when the car is moving. If you feel the steering wheel suddenly bind or lock up at a specific point when turning left, that is a mechanical issue. Assuming the car wasn't crashed or slid into something, the first suspect would be a binding upper strut mount. They normally cause a scraping or thumping sound as the steering is turned, but in severe cases, a mount can break apart and cause binding. A potential clue to that is if the steering to the left becomes free when the front end is raised off the ground so there's no weight on the tires.
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Monday, March 20th, 2017 AT 5:31 PM

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