Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2014   by CARS Magazine

A Not-So-Remote Possibility

ver been stressed over a frustrating steering complaint? Perhaps you even tried installing several different power steering pumps and/or steering units only to still have noise or lack of assist issues you can’t seem to repair! If so,...


ver been stressed over a frustrating steering complaint? Perhaps you even tried installing several different power steering pumps and/or steering units only to still have noise or lack of assist issues you can’t seem to repair! If so, you’re not alone.

Cardone Industries regularly fields this sort of phone call through its Tech Advisor Hotline. In many cases, the problem isn’t the pump or the steering unit — it’s the remotely-mounted power steering pump reservoir.

The Problem

Many late-model vehicles now use remote-style power steering reservoirs, which incorporate a fine-mesh screen to trap contamination and prevent it from entering the power steering system. The screen prevents contaminants from damaging healthy power steering components.

However, a major drawback to this design is that these reservoirs do not have bypass capability like an engine oil filter does. This means that once the screen becomes clogged, the system begins to starve itself of power steering fluid, leading to noise, lack of assist and/or premature power steering pump failure.

As you can see in this photo, the screen is almost completely obstructed and will not allow a sufficient flow.

The Wrong Solution

Unfortunately, some vehicle owners and technicians punch a hole in the mesh screen to allow fluid to once again flow freely into the pump. This may temporarily solve the problem, but is a very dangerous repair method. All the debris that once was caught by the screen is now allowed to travel through the pump then the lines and into the spool valve of the steering unit. This will almost certainly cause future problems in the steering system. The OE engineers included the screen for a reason – do not damage this simple, but vital element of the system.

The Right Solution

The proper fix is to simply remove the reservoir and clean the screen with an aerosol carb cleaner or brake cleaner. Once the screen is cleaned, use low-pressure compressed air to ensure the cleaning fluid has fully evaporated. If cleaning chemicals contaminate the power steering system, they can seriously damage O-rings and seals.

Once the reservoir is completely dry, make sure the screen is clear by pouring fresh power steering fluid approved for that vehicle through the reservoir. If it flows freely without restriction, the screen is clear.

Before re-installing a reservoir on units that bolt directly to the pump, make sure you lubricate the new O-rings that were supplied with the pump with fresh power steering fluid.

For remote reservoirs that connect to the pump via a fill hose, carefully inspect the hose to ensure it has not collapsed. Over time, it is common for this fill hose to soften, which allows it to collapse and starve the pump for fluid, repeating the same problem the clogged screen presented. If the reservoir is damaged or cannot be cleaned properly, Cardone offers many popular reservoir part numbers.

CARDONE is here to help you!

Running into installation problems? Can’t figure out which Cardone part you need. Call Cardone’s Tech Advisor Hotline at 888-280-TECH (8324) Mon-Thu 8am-6pm, Fri 8am-5pm EST


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