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Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 31 Oct 2012, 01:23 pm
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Default Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

My girlfriend's mom's PTC came back to me a week or two ago with two symptoms: A pretty healthy groan from the power steering pump and a grossly overfilled reservoir - fluid was being forced out of the cap.

After a quick search here I found someone who'd had a power steering groan that turned out to the be reservoir, so given that was the easy thing to check I looked there first.

I sucked out as much fluid as I could using a feeding syringe from a pet supply store, then unhooked the hoses and removed the two bolts securing the reservoir to the head. Once it was empty & off the car, I could see a thick layer of nasty goo all along the bottom of the reservoir. It was pretty clear the goo was preventing fluid flow, so not only was the pump getting starved for fluid (thus the noise) but fluid returning from the rack was building up in the reservoir causing it to overflow. I priced a new reservoir - $60-$80 depending on source - and then decided I would take a whack at cleaning it.

I used a couple rubber vacuum port caps to cap off the inlet and outlet from the reservoir and filled it up with K&N Air Filter Cleaner - a mild solvent that works pretty well on oily mess. I left it to sit for a while, then used a small sponge-type paintbrush through the cap hole to gently agitate the nasty layer of grossness.

I hooked the outlet port (the larger of the two) up to the sink faucet and back-flushed the reservoir for several minutes, watching all sorts of nasty debris come out. Once that was done, the fine mesh filter/screen at the bottom was pretty well visible and there were just a few streaks of black mess left. I hosed down the inside with Berryman's carb cleaner, backflushed it again, and left it out to dry.

The result isn't perfect - the filter isn't new again - but it's pretty darned clean and should be good for many more miles. ~$8 spent on chemicals (had I needed to buy them new) and a wrecked sponge paint brush plus 30 minutes of my time was a lot more palatable than a new $60 (mail order) or $80 (local) reservoir, so it seemed a good approach. If you try this, be sure you are careful of the mesh screen. It's very fragile!

I'm considering installing an inline, replaceable filter between the rack and the reservoir inlet, but OTOH I figure we got 140,000 miles off the first one... if it does even another 40k-60k that's a pretty good lifespan and I can replace the reservoir then.
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Old 09 Nov 2012, 09:57 am
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Default Re: Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

What sources did you find for just the reservoir? I found sources for just the pump, but they all come without the reservoir.
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Old 09 Nov 2012, 12:49 pm
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Default Re: Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

Seen them on eBay.

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Old 09 Nov 2012, 01:04 pm
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Default Re: Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

Originally Posted by 03electricbluegt View Post
What sources did you find for just the reservoir? I found sources for just the pump, but they all come without the reservoir.
The only way to buy the reservoir is from the dealer. It's a Chrysler part, not part of the (rebuildable) pump or common with any other cars. There are several dealers that sell discounted parts online (Mopar Parts for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep: MoparPartsAmerica seems to be pretty cheap on the whole), or you can head to the local dealer.

After thinking about it for a while, I think a decent approach would be to reach into the reservoir with a sturdy pair of pliers and rip out the mesh filter altogether, then install and inline filter on the return line. That turns a $60 fix into a $20 fix.
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Old 03 Apr 2013, 04:02 pm
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Default Re: Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

This post saved me a bunch of hassle and money. My car has been doing this on cold mornings and the other day it never went away. Of course the wife was driving. I took it off, cleaned it with carb cleaner followed with a wash with lacquer thinner and it works fine. You do need a stiff brush to get at the screen though. I've read where they say the screens can not be cleaned. B.S.
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Old 22 Jan 2017, 07:26 pm
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Default Re: Power Steering Groan & Clogged Reservoir

I started to have the power steering groan when weather got cold, approaching 0 deg F. Car has about 116k miles, fluid level was just slightly low, still on the dip stick, and as far as I know PS fluid never changed, I have owned car for about 8 years. Sound never went away but would be slightly less after car warmed up. I took the super lazy approach since had no desire to go through effort to remove reservoir.

Here is the lazy method I used- Sucked out old fluid from reservoir, filled pretty full with ATF +4, left cap off, turned on car and turned steering wheel lock to lock a few times, not on jacks just sitting in driveway (was already sounding better), turned off car, sucked out fluid from reservoir, repeated this a couples times, then did final fill of ATF to normal full level. Total used 1 qt of ATF+4, and suction gun(kinda like a grease gun).

Just did this today and drive it around for a few minutes and seems good, so unknown if will be a long term fix. Worst case will try cleaning filter.

UPDATE: 3/1/2017
All has been good since, steering feel is good and consistent, no more sound issues. Could have just been that PS fluid was slightly low and adding more fixed, but I think it was beneficial to refresh fluid either way.
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Last edited by pwriess; 02 Mar 2017 at 01:58 am. Reason: Update
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