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Fixing an overheating power steering system #4492274
08/18/17 08:19 PM
08/18/17 08:19 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
MrHorspwer Offline OP
MrHorspwer  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
Most people never really tax their power steering system. It's just... there. Until it leaks, nobody really ever gives it a second thought. Maybe a fluid change once in a while.

What if you chronically overheat your power steering? Add a cooler, right? What if it's cause by a system design issue and adding a power steering cooler simply won't fix it? Follow me...

I purchased a 2000 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 specifically as an auto-x and track toy. Yeah, I drive it on the street, but I bought it expressly because it's relatively cheap, has huge aftermarket support, is fitted with a good size tire (with the option to go MUCH bigger), and is fast enough.

This is what happened the first time I auto-x'd it:


That was only after two runs, less than 2 minutes of angry driving. It didn't get better. I didn't have a temp probe with me, but I'd guess temps were well past 350 degrees F. Here's the thing: This is a normal outcome for GM power steering systems! Most just live with it or try to fix it with a cooler, but a cooler is just treating the symptom, not the cause.

Besides puking fluid all over, overheating the power steering fluid has the secondary effect of quickly deteriorating all the seals in the system, particularly in the steering gear or rack. No surprise, my rack was also leaking.

I did mention a cooler. My car, like many 4th gen. F-bodies, has a cooler from the factory. It's fitted to the upper radiator hose and uses engine coolant to cool (or in most cases, warm) the power steering fluid:


GM installed the cooler on the early SS and WS6 models, which were equipped with 275/40-17 tires up front. In 2000, they added the cooler to all V8 cars.

So yeah, it has a cooler, but the fluid will always only be as cool as the coolant temperature. This trips people up and leads them toward thinking a big air cooler will fix it. After all, the fluid is already sitting at 210 degrees because of the factory cooler. Again, a bigger cooler is just treating the symptom, not the cause.

Enter: Turn One Steering

Now, I'm only a customer of Turn One and am in no way affiliated with them. It's just cool to find a shop that is so specialized in one area that they are the de-facto experts. A real part of their business is with NASCAR. Their customer list is a who's who of Cup and Xfinity teams. It's even cooler that they're local to me (relatively local, at least). They're based in Saginaw, MI, former home of GM's Saginaw Steering division. That's not a coincidence.

Anyway, they have some great tech explanations of why GM power steering systems are so prone to overheating. You can read about them here and here, but the short answer is GM pumps flow A LOT (GM used the same pump on dump trucks that they used on Chevettes!) and most of that flow is simply diverted right back into the reservoir by the flow control valve. This constant cycle of pressurization and recirculation allows heat to build and build until it expands and pukes out the pump.

Turn One rebuilds pumps with a close eye on managing flow, reducing recirculation, and ultimately controlling temperature. The downside is less assist, especially at low speed. The upside is you get to keep all your power steering fluid. Fair trade.

As a bonus, Turn One also rebuilds steering racks. So the pump and rack came off and I drove them up to Saginaw for a refresh. Looking at the top picture, you'll see the composite plastic pulley on the pump. Beside being totally cheesy, it completely blocks access to the blots securing the pump. The pulley has to be removed and reinstalled every time the pump goes off and on. Lame. Turn One also makes a sweet billet pulley that has opening that allow easy pump removal and installation. Worth it.

Now comes the bad news: My pump was junk. When I removed it, I noticed there was a remanufacturing sticker on the back. It was also painted black instead of the natural aluminum finish it left the factory with. I noted this when I dropped off the pump and sure enough, I got a call that the pump failed its dyno test (yeah, a power steering pump dyno... sweet!). Something about excessive flow past the pressure relief valve and no way to correct it. They also noted the oil feed port for the shaft bushing was in the wrong location, meaning the pump likely wasn't even an F-body pump in the first place! Of course, all of this may have just made a system already prone to overheating even worse.

So I had to buy a new pump from Turn One. All it takes is money.

New pump in-car:


You'll also notice an AN fitting on the return port in the reservoir. I re-plumbed the return side of the system with push-lock AN-fittings. The return port fitting is super slick piece offered by Turn One. They also supplied the AN adapter for the return out of the steering rack. It's totally possible to plumb the pressure side with AN, but it requires specialized higher pressure line and fittings ($$$) and there was nothing wrong with my current high pressure hose: It wasn't leaking.

I also ended up replacing the cooler:


Turn One says most applications of their pumps don't require a cooler. I wanted to get the factory cooler removed on the off chance it were to rupture and either allowed coolant into the power steering fluid or power steering fluid into the coolant. If I was going through the effort to re-plumb the return line, I figured I may as well add the cooler now. It's an 18" Derale unit mounted just behind the factory air dam. Yeah, it's not in a direct airflow path, but space in front of the radiator is awkward and remember the part about Turn One saying a cooler likely would not be required. I'm not worried.

Since this is BITOG, I filled it with Red Line power steering fluid. Sorry, you get a stock photo for that:


Why Red Line? Pretty much because of this: https://bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/4472551/1

As a cherry on top, I got rid of the wire thin factory steering wheel with integrated pillow:


So that's it, stem to stern, a completely rebuilt steering system. I haven't had an opportunity to really give it a work out, which is kind of a let down for the purposes of this post. I can report that the "less assist" trade-off is barely noticeable, but I think that is mostly because it is a manual transmission. With an auto, I think it's much easier to simply idle at parking lot speeds while turning the wheel. With a stick, you're constantly modulating the throttle and clutch, which provides enough revs to keep the pump spinning just that much faster.

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492296
08/18/17 08:52 PM
08/18/17 08:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,273
In the Garage...
ls1mike Offline
ls1mike  Offline
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,273
In the Garage...
That looks sharp. I have the stock GM setup on my WS6, but have never really had a problem. I have replaced the pump because of a failed hose once, but got it at the dealer.

Anyway nice job! I do like the steering wheel... A LOT!


Mike
00 Trans Am WS6 5.7 LS1
02 Silverado 2500HD 6.0
14 Caprice PPV 6.0
15 Malibu LTZ Turbo
12 Passport TT
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492297
08/18/17 08:52 PM
08/18/17 08:52 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 5,860
Kalifornia Kollective
BrocLuno Offline
BrocLuno  Offline
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 5,860
Kalifornia Kollective
Nice stuff laugh

Does the TurnOne pulley have a fan blade effect to help air-flow over the pump ...


Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492327
08/18/17 09:38 PM
08/18/17 09:38 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,209
Texas
JustinH Offline
JustinH  Offline
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,209
Texas
Looks like a great aftermarket part. Are you monitoring the temps with a gauge at all?

Your powersteering cooler looks very similar to what the 4.6L ford's have out of the factory, only yours is about twice as large. That should keep it plenty cool.

I believe my tbird had it in the exact same location on the car from the factory.


'11 Hyundai Sonata GLS
'11 Scion XB
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492346
08/18/17 09:57 PM
08/18/17 09:57 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,334
The Northeast
mclasser Offline
mclasser  Offline
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,334
The Northeast
Very cool! I don't own a GM product but that was an enjoyable read.

How about some pics of the exterior?


2018 Hyundai Elantra VE -- 4K
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L 4WD -- 56K
2002 Honda Accord EX-L -- 211K

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: mclasser] #4492374
08/18/17 10:35 PM
08/18/17 10:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
MrHorspwer Offline OP
MrHorspwer  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
Originally Posted By: JustinH
Are you monitoring the temps with a gauge at all?


No gauge. I dipped a temp probe into the reservoir after a normal drive and was reading in the mid-140 degree area.

Originally Posted By: mclasser
How about some pics of the exterior?



Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492488
08/19/17 01:55 AM
08/19/17 01:55 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 5,387
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DoubleWasp Offline
DoubleWasp  Offline
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 5,387
Fort Lauderdale, FL
I've gotten the power steering temps under control on my GMs by installing a transmission cooler behind the primary electric fan to cool the power steering.

After a really nasty romp, I can stick my bare finger comfortably into the fluid reservoir.


07 Lincoln Navigator M1 0w-40/FU
68 Charger R/T / Supercharged 440 VR1/DBL7349
07 Ram 3500 4x4 / Cummins 6.7 /DBL7349
17 Maserati GranTurismo Cabrio
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492508
08/19/17 03:58 AM
08/19/17 03:58 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,007
Texas
4WD Online confused
4WD  Online Confused
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,007
Texas
Great write up - and nice car.
I was surprised to first see a similar PS (air) cooler under my small truck - but two years later the PSF was black - and since then been swapping partial fluid once a year via a 200cc syringe ...

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492553
08/19/17 07:22 AM
08/19/17 07:22 AM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,281
San Antonio, TX
E150GT Offline
E150GT  Offline
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,281
San Antonio, TX
This is the kind of stuff I like. Making something better. I love it


1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD - 100k
1995 F150 XL 4.9 reg cab 5MT - 251k 5w30
2016 Mazda6 Touring 6MT - 57k 10w30
2006 Buick Lucerne CXL 3.8 31k 5w30
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4492568
08/19/17 07:47 AM
08/19/17 07:47 AM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 593
Margate England
Claud Offline
Claud  Offline
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 593
Margate England
It's great you have your car set up for the track pounding you want to give it, no I'm not being sarcastic.
But for everyday highway use I think it's overkill. Sure, GM (or whoever) could build a bombproof system for all their cars, how much would that raise the sticker price?.
Mostly people don't drive their cars to its limits and the compromise set-up they leave the factory with works just fine.

But if you want to rip round a race track, pound down a drag strip, or see how far you get off road, anyone who has done it will know a heap of money will be needed to keep it together.
Here's wishing you luck at the track, seems to me you know what takes to do well and will stump up the $$$ to get there. smile

Claud.

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: Claud] #4492588
08/19/17 08:07 AM
08/19/17 08:07 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,007
Texas
4WD Online confused
4WD  Online Confused
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,007
Texas
Well, I'd have been happy with a drain plug - that can't cost much ...

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4493277
08/19/17 10:42 PM
08/19/17 10:42 PM
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 2,195
Fort Worth, Texas
clinebarger Offline
clinebarger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 2,195
Fort Worth, Texas
Nice Upgrades!! Really like the pulley, Can I ask how much they charged you to rebuild the Rack? I need mine rebuilt.

Are those Hooker Blackheart Headers?


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/Auto
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: clinebarger] #4493477
08/20/17 09:13 AM
08/20/17 09:13 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
MrHorspwer Offline OP
MrHorspwer  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,446
Michigan
Originally Posted By: clinebarger
Nice Upgrades!! Really like the pulley, Can I ask how much they charged you to rebuild the Rack? I need mine rebuilt.

Are those Hooker Blackheart Headers?


$250 for the rack rebuild.

Yes, those are Blackheart headers. They're the mid-length version. I also did the matching true-dual exhaust. I really wanted to do the long-tube, but they weren't available when I ordered and the cost was about 50% more for the headers and exhaust. I'll probably kick myself later for not waiting for the long-tubes.

Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4493505
08/20/17 09:56 AM
08/20/17 09:56 AM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 1,749
Rijeka, EU
chrisri Offline
chrisri  Offline
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 1,749
Rijeka, EU
That's nice. I have to say all of my Alfa's had factory fitted PS coolers (long plastic or metal pipe in S that is located in front of a radiator) that worked wonderfully. BMW and FIAT had something similar before everybody went electric.


02 Nissan Terrano 2.7.TDi Motul 15w40
06 FIAT Stilo MW 1.9 Multijet SHU 5w40
07 Opel Vectra SW 1.9 CDTI 150 MST 5w40
Re: Fixing an overheating power steering system [Re: MrHorspwer] #4493991
08/20/17 08:21 PM
08/20/17 08:21 PM
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 2,195
Fort Worth, Texas
clinebarger Offline
clinebarger  Offline
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 2,195
Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: MrHorspwer

Yes, those are Blackheart headers. They're the mid-length version. I also did the matching true-dual exhaust. I really wanted to do the long-tube, but they weren't available when I ordered and the cost was about 50% more for the headers and exhaust. I'll probably kick myself later for not waiting for the long-tubes.


I thought so, I have the same system on my car & absolutely love it. I installed a set of 1 7/8" Super Comp's & 3" sections of straight pipe on both collectors for a "Dyno Day" & gained 7 RWHP at 6,000 RPM over the Blackheart 1 7/8" Mid-Length & full exhaust.
My restriction is in the Air Intake, Removing the Air Filter, SLP Lid, & Mass Airflow Sensor netted a 18 RWHP gain at 6,200 RPM running in Speed Density, Injector Duty Cycle hovering around 90%.
Best pull with long tubes, No air intake......431hp/458tq
Best pull with mid lengths, air intake intact....406hp/444tq

I under-cammed my car! But with the Air Intake & Injector upgrades along with a converter re-stall that would have to be done to take advantage.......I'm going to leave it alone, I'm tired of working on the [censored] thing!!

Not trying to de-rail your thread.....I just believe Hooker did an excellent job designing the mid-length's, They would probably out flow many sets of long tubes like Pacesetter & BBK.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/Auto
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