Possible Power Steering problem fix
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Thread: Possible Power Steering problem fix

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Possible Power Steering problem fix

    I put together a step-by-step on how I diagnosed the Power Steering (PS) problem in my 2002 Odyssey. Here are the symptoms of the problem:

    1) A whining or "whirring" noise coming from the PS (Power Steering) pump.
    2) Foaming from the PS pump reservoir (almost like shaking a bottle of Coke, then opening it). This symptom is hard to catch unless you are looking for it.
    3) The PS fluid goes low after adding fluid to the PS tank and driving around a bit.

    Diagnosis:
    -First, I checked if the PS belt was properly tightened.

    - I looked for any obvious signs of a leak in the pump and hoses with the engine idling and with the engine off.

    - With the engine off, I made sure the PS fluid level is per spec. Then while looking into the PS reservoir, I started the engine. The fluid started swirling around like a margarita in a blender. This was a good sign. I knew if I heard sucking noises from the reservoir, then I either have too little fluid in the reservoir and/or there is an obstruction or leak in the return line to the reservoir. At this point I would have drained the system, cleaned the mesh filter at the bottom of the reservoir and found the obstruction/kink/leak in the return line before I went on.

    - I noticed that although the PS fluid was swirling, it started looking like air was being whipped into it. I asked my wife to turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock and the fluid started foaming like crazy. It foamed out of the reservoir and continued foaming several seconds after the engine was turned off.

    -I also noticed a coating of some fluid around the back and side of the steering pump. It had turned black from collecting dirt. I thought it was motor oil but this fluid was very sticky. 100% Simple Green (a strong detergent spray) will melt motor oil dirt, but it will barely budge old PS fluid, so I knew I had a very small leak somewhere around the pump.

    The area pointed out in red (see attached pictures in the next post) is low pressure and could suck air into the pump body if there is even the slightest leak in the sealing O-ring (yes, cold weather may be enough to open up the gap and let air in). The O-ring has a bump shaped into it (again, see the pictures). Honda loves these special O-ring shapes, but that bump could cause problems. First, the area is at a low pressure, so if you get a leak in the O-ring, it will suck the air in (and any quick fix <FROWN> sealant you use will be useless unless you apply the sealant OUTSIDE the pump at the o-ring joint! Joking aside, this might actually work in an emergency). Second, I dont think the four bolts on the cover that holds the o-ring to the main pump body adequately clamps the bump.

    The sucked in air mixes with the PS fluid and churns it into foam. The foamy fluid gets pushed into the steering rack and returns to the reservoir and back into the pump where it gets even more air churned into it (think Cool Whip). If the leak is small enough, you wont get dramatic foaming, but your fluid will look like a dark milkshake when you look into the reservoir. Most notably, your PS pump will probably make some noise because there is some air in the fluid (and we know that air and fluid pumps dont mix <smiley>). As the leak gets progressively worse over time, the pump will get noisier as the fluid gets enough air into it to foam out of the reservoir, just like when you open a shaken bottle of soda (thus your fluid level goes down). When you shut the engine off, the fluid settles down (within 5 minutes) and looks normal again, but with less fluid in the reservoir. Also, with the engine off, whatever fluid that remains in the pump starts to leak ever so slowly out of the same area where the pump sucks in air when it is running. That is how I was getting the fluid film around the pump!

    You could fix this three ways: If you hate working on cars, go to the dealer ($400+??). If you are nervous about taking apart the PS pump then buy and install a reman pump ($124). Or if you are like me and think of working on cars as a hobby, then rebuild the pump ($15 + 20 minutes of your time after you remove the pump from the car). If you rebuild and it doesnt work, then you are only out $15. However, you could save over $100 if the rebuild works.

    First and foremost, if you follow the instructions below, then you are assuming any and all damages and risks associated with it. I did this to my PS pump and I am just sharing that knowledge with you.

    The rebuild is very easy. This post took longer to write than the rebuild!

    1) I bought the O-rings 13, 15, 16, 17 (see pictures) and two bottles of Honda PS fluid from Majestic Honda. The dealers are the only ones who carry these O-rings. I also replaced the O-ring on the high-pressure hose just to be safe.

    2) I loosened the PS belt and took it off the PS pulley. I didnt have to take it out of the crankshaft pulley; I just let it drop on the engine mount.

    3) I felt for any looseness on the pump bearings by feeling if there is any axial or radial play on the shaft. I heard no grinding noise when spinning the pulley so the bearings were ok. All I heard a soft swishing sound but that is ok. A grinding noise or looseness in the shaft indicates a total PS pump replacement or a means to press out the bearing from the main pump body.

    4) I found a clean spot to disassemble the pump!

    5) I got ready to catch PS fluid and then removed the pump from the car

    6) I didnt remove the PS pulley because I didnt replace the main bearings or the front oil seal. However there was no leak indication on my front seal so I was comfortable leaving it alone.

    7) I removed the 4 bolts that hold the pump cover and the one bolt that held the PS fluid inlet to the main pump body. I carefully separated the main body from the back cover, making sure that the main pump components stayed together with the back cover to prevent the main pump from coming apart! It would be bad news if the main pump components came apart accidentally because the pump vanes have already worn themselves a comfy spot in the pump rotor. In my industry we call these components a "matched set", never to be separated unless being replaced.

    8) Using the exploded diagrams as reference, I used toothpicks to pry and remove the Orings so that I didnt scratch up the pump sealing surfaces. I then replaced the aforementioned Orings and used fresh Honda steering fluid as lubricant on the Orings.

    9) I made sure everything is clean, especially around the sealing surfaces. Assembly was reverse of disassembly. I remounted the PS pump on the van and tensioned the PS belt to proper specs.

    10) I drained and flushed the system per previous posts on this wonderful forum.

    11) I bled the PS pump by slowly turning the steering wheel lock to lock several times. I now enjoy a very quiet PS pump and saved over $100 in the process.

    I didnt have a manual, so I guessed on the torque for the bolts. If someone was kind enough to look up the torque specs for the 4 bolts and the fluid inlet bolt, it would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by odyman; 01-24-2008 at 03:27 PM.
    2002 EX

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  3. #2
    Registered User New Dad New Van's Avatar
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    That repair without a manual?

    The 4 bolts for the pump cover assembly require 14 lbf-ft. The inlet joint bolt requires 8 lbf-ft.
    2001 Odyssey LX
    2003 ACURA EL Touring

    UNOFFICIAL 2001 ODYSSEY THREAD: http://www.odyclub.com/forums/showth...664#post384664

  4. #3
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    Trying to post the pictures
    Attached Images Attached Images
    2002 EX

  5. #4
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    Yeah, no manual. But I've been taking apart more complicated assemblies in turbine engines for 15 years so this was simple for me. I even guessed close on the torque values. Thanks for looking those up for me.
    2002 EX

  6. #5
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    OOPS
    2002 EX

  7. #6
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    I love the internet! I have been dealing with a noisy pump for too long. Found your post pulled the pump last night went to a U-pull it and three Auto stores with no avail. So with your post I put black RTV sealant around the mating surfaces of the pump and on the ends of the inlet tubing.
    BINGO - ALL IS QUIET! while it would not pass the best looking repair test I am so happy. I am going to order the seals and a new inlet tube and fix it right...one day.

    Thanks ODYMAN

    How do you measure belt tightness?
    Last edited by gwagg; 02-03-2008 at 08:48 PM.
    2000 Ody
    120K+

    2007 FJ Cruiser

  8. #7
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    Glad to help. You can tighten the belt by "feel" or buy or rent a tool. To do it by feel, tighten the adjusting belt enough to have it deflect inward by 1/2 inch when pushed. You need to push the belt with 22 pounds of force. This is where the "feel" comes in.

    See the attached pic.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    2002 EX

  9. #8
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    I just wanted to thank ODYMAN. I had just purchased a new pump from Checker for $190 bucks when I read this post. I went to Honda and bought the "reseal kit" which came with all the o-rings mentinoned above as well as others like the main dynamic shaft seal for $25 bucks. Now my pump runs like a dream no noise at all. I took the pump back and saved some serious dough. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!

  10. #9
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    You're welcome! If you find fixes for other problems, please make sure you post them -- Odyman
    2002 EX

  11. #10
    Registered User DrMark's Avatar
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    Wow, great post odyman! Thanks!

    I've got a whirring/chirping noise in that vacinity, but it get worse when the AC compressor is running, so I don't know what it is -- PS pump or AC compressor.

    However, I have noticed the churning PS fluid.

    Does your PS fluid no longer churn when the engine is running but the steering wheel is left alone?
    2003 Odyssey EX-L
    ~75,500 miles

  12. #11
    Registered User New Dad New Van's Avatar
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    A TSB for an Accord with a leak at the inlet to the Power-Steering for reference: http://www.in.honda.com/Rjanisis/pubs/SB/A07-086.PDF
    2001 Odyssey LX
    2003 ACURA EL Touring

    UNOFFICIAL 2001 ODYSSEY THREAD: http://www.odyclub.com/forums/showth...664#post384664

  13. #12
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    DrMark,

    I get that same chirping/whirring sound, but I think it's coming from the belts when the AC is on or if I turn the steering wheel. Those sounds are normal.

    Try this: WITH THE ENGINE COLD, have someone turn the AC on and off while you listen in the area where you hear the chirp. If you don't hear anything, have the person turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock and see if you hear anything.

    Short chirps and soft whirring noises are normal. Prolonged chirping or loud squeals could mean you have to tighten the belts, have worn belts, or bad bearings/seals in either system.

    The PS fluid normally churns in the reservior. Try this: With the engine off Check and see if your PS fluid is at the proper level. Start the car and have someone turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock while you watch the PS fluid. If it's swirling like a milkshake in a blender, you're ok. If it starts to foam, then you have an air leak somewhere in the system. Keep watching the fluid AFTER you have your helper turn off the engine. If the PS fluid foams out of the reservior, you have a major air leak (like I had in my PS pump). Hope this helps.
    2002 EX

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    Smile Re: Possible Power Steering problem fix

    Originally posted by odyman
    (and any quick fix <FROWN> sealant you use will be useless unless you apply the sealant OUTSIDE the pump at the o-ring joint! Joking aside, this might actually work in an emergency)
    I would think that a continuos bead of clear silicone sealant around the entire joint would work quite well.. You would still have to remove the pump to do it properly in which case I would replace the o-ring as you did, put it back together, really clean the area around the joint and then add the silicone as an insurance policy...

    Luckily Idon't haev thie problem yet but will keep this note in mind should it pop up in the future. This is quite simple in the scheme of repairs I have done in the past so i would have no problem attempting it.

  15. #14
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    Putting on some silicone sealant around the joint after the repair as insurance is a great idea. I wish I had done that after I replaced my o-rings.
    2002 EX

  16. #15
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    For there to be a air leak would there have to be a fluid leak? I am sometimes getting a noise but not all of the time. I am also feeling the wheel hard to turn sometimes but not all the times.

    Fluid is level is right above the min line cold.

    Can PS fluid evaporate?

    125k miles probably needs a PS change anyways. I am going to check for the foaming tonight.

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