View Full Version : Power Steering Locks Up
09-11-2009, 12:11 PM
From time to time (usually at freeway speeds), my steering will lock up. I can steer a little with great effort, and suddenly it will let go and be normal again. Not good for mountain driving!
Anybody have an idea whether it's the pump or something mechanical? I inspected the pump when I had the engine apart for intake manifold gasket replacement and it appeared OK, although the fluid was slightly burnt.
2002 Grand Am SE1, 3.4L v6
07-06-2011, 11:54 AM
Wow, has it really been 2 years and I haven't fixed this yet? What a lazy slob...
actually, it's been a sporadic problem but I have more data.
The steering has locked up a few more times, but at street speed also,and only when initiating a left turn. If I slalom right and back left a bit it lets go, but if it locks at a crucial moment, ugh.
something in the rack, maybe? I'd hate to pay for a service eval if they won't see anything
07-12-2011, 05:18 PM
I'd have to say more something to do with rack/pinion assembly. In my mind (feel free to object..) the power steering pump/motor only controls "power". Even if it were to go bad.. (as mine is right now) your car would technically still turn perfectly fine, with a lot of force..
You said "locking." Did you mean literally if your making a left turn? you keep making the turn until it decides to let go.. or "power steering" is ok while your making the turn, but when you roll the wheel back to straighten out it seems like the power steering goes out?
1.) check power steering fluid levels (hopefully after 2 years you've managed that much :) )
2.) If that is ok, next step is to get your rack/pinion examined.
My power steering pump has almost gone bad.. still works but leaks slightly.. every 2 weeks i have to "top off" my fluid.. nothing major.. I have something else going on though.. I think my driver side strut or control arm, or even rack/pinion might be faulty.. everytime I make a left hand turn.. i hear something from under that side click.. and my alignment is magically off by a hair.. always wants to turn left now.. if I take the wheel all the way right, something clicks again (same spot) but now my alignment is straight.. weird.
07-14-2011, 01:13 AM
I have something else going on though.. I think my driver side strut or control arm, or even rack/pinion might be faulty.. everytime I make a left hand turn.. i hear something from under that side click.. and my alignment is magically off by a hair.. always wants to turn left now.. if I take the wheel all the way right, something clicks again (same spot) but now my alignment is straight.. weird.
I'd be looking at the ball joint being worn in this case. Bushings in the control arm are a possibility also but not likely to make a 'click' noise like a ball joint moving from side to side can (metal on metal). Check all other suspension mounting points while you're at it... Good luck and update us.
02-04-2012, 03:50 PM
Fluid level has always been OK......
To provide more definition: I'll be driving straightline and here comes a curve, I'll start to turn the wheel left and the wheel won't turn. I can turn it right, but when I come back past center it hits a stop again. I can get enough to follow a curve usually (freeway curves are gentle) but if it ever lets go while I'm applying pressure...... I'm not sure rolling the car several times will be all that fun. Must ask Richard Petty about that lol
anyhow, I'm getting ready to change the oil today and see a leak on the floor. Looks like I'll need to replace the rack and pinion seals or the entire R&P assembly.
(looks sad and says "D'oh")
02-04-2012, 04:40 PM
What you are describing is a loss in power steering pressure. Inspect your lines where they enter the rack. Leaking pressure line, prob oring,.would be my bet. Just replace the lines...if original they are too old anyways.
02-06-2012, 02:07 PM
if pressure loss, wouldn't that affect both steering directions? It will turn right normally; in fact, that's how I overcome it when it locks. I slalom a bit; come right, then back left to the stuck spot and repeat until it lets go.
I'm thinking about checking the pinch bolts where the column connects to the intermediate shaft.
found the leak btw. I had turned the wheels with engine off and some fluid came out of the intermediate shaft seal.
02-06-2012, 02:55 PM
Mine was acting very similar but no leaking. Turned out to be the rack had a couple of damaged teeth (pushed over one way) probably from a bad pothole hit (hard curbing could do it too). Replaced the rack (from a junkyard car) and have never had a problem since! Kinda tough to do though, basically the K-frame and sway-bar will need to get out of the way. Check it for yourself by setting up on stands, removing the wheels and pretend drive with the engine off; you'll probably be able to feel the problem at about the same spot/angle every time... Good lucks!
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