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Doc Holliday 03-31-2012 05:37 PM

Rack and pinion.
'98 Ford Windstar, 3.0 motor. The power steering pump has been whining the entire last six months I've owned the thing. Two months ago I took it to a mechanic and we pumped out a lot of the grayish fluid and it worked a bit better, steering loosened up. We did that by simply removing a hose and starting the car up, over and over again. Never got clear but better.

I drove it like that up until yesterday when the steering simply locked up meaning no power steering, I have to force the wheel.

Bought a new power steering pump from Advance Auto Parts this morning and took it to a local mechanic. He did not flush out the old fluid and the steering is not any better than before, still hard although it feels at times it's wanting to loosen up. Talked to another mechanic who said the guy didn't flush it, obviously, and that the rack and pinion is clogged up.

Question is, what are my chances of when having the power steering system flushed the rack and pinion will be okay?

I'm taking it in the morning to Pep Boys to have the flush performed, with the actual flushing machine.

Thanks and oh yeah, I did not pay the mechanic for installing the new power steering pump. Heck, no. He knew he didn't flush it and I called him out on it and took off.

Doc Holliday 03-31-2012 08:45 PM

Don't everyone reply at once. :)

Jay 78 04-01-2012 05:34 AM

Ah...the beloved Ford power steering pump whine.

Are you using auto tranny fluid in it? Yes, I'm being serious.

Doc Holliday 04-01-2012 12:36 PM

I don't know what's in there but it doesn't look good. I know you can use tranny fluid, one mechanic said the only difference between that and power steering fluid is an additive that makes a difference in color only.

Another mechanic yesterday said I had to use Motorcraft power steering in Ford or it'll whine.

Can the rack and pinion clear up or am I going to have to replace it? I guess I'll be finding out today regardless.

Doc Holliday 04-02-2012 02:44 PM

Looks like I'm going to be replacing the rack and pinion.

sublime2 04-02-2012 03:23 PM

How about the supply lines? Maybe one has collapsed or is clogged?

Doc Holliday 04-02-2012 03:42 PM

I spoke with a mechanic who I've used before a few times. He said it's highly unlikely the rack and pinion will loosen up with a flush, of which I have yet to do.

He said he'll flush it out, he has the machine to do it, but then if it doesn't work then I'll be looking at around $800 total, of which I'm sure he'll drop the flush charge.

Thing is I can buy the entire set up, the rack and pinion, for $204 (Advance Auto Parts) and change walk out. Of that I'll receive a $90 core charge back. Then another mechanic will come to the house and do the job for $100 flat. That means I can get away with an entire new rack and pinion complete install for $214 total. But if I go to the other guy who I've used before and who has high overhead as he has a big shop and employees than it can cost me another $600. And if it the flush doesn't work and I end up using the other guy then I'll have lost $60.

I figure for $214 for an entirely new steering system, I've already had the new pump installed which only cost me $40 for the part, it's worth it to just get it over with.

I'm taking it to the shop in the morning to see if a flush may be worth it, but like the guy said, most likely it won't work.

Doc Holliday 04-02-2012 03:48 PM

The biggest thing is if I want to gamble with that $60. I just quit my job. :(

cjm94 04-02-2012 05:30 PM

I work at a ford dealer they come using atf no special fluids. And you are looking at a rack...if flushing works it will be short lived.

D-rock 04-02-2012 07:14 PM

Not familiar with Ford pumps, but I doubt advance auto parts rack and pump will last too long either.

Doc Holliday 04-02-2012 07:14 PM


Originally Posted by D-rock (Post 890611)
Not familiar with Ford pumps, but I doubt advance auto parts rack and pump will last too long either.

Lifetime warranty!

Doc Holliday 04-02-2012 07:16 PM

This thing is a '98 that I paid $1350 dollars total for. I'm not going to the dealership for parts. :no:

Doc Holliday 04-03-2012 05:11 PM

An update. I just came back from having the system flushed and filled. No change but the mechanic noticed that the pump was not pumping properly.

Great. He said that Ford power steering pumps are junk to begin with and if this one was a rebuilt from Advance Auto Parts than two plus two equals four.

I called the other mechanic who's coming in the morning and told him what the first guy said and he agreed, told me a story about a friend of his who had to change the pump three times before finding one that actually worked. :(

So now we may be changing the pump first, it's under warranty so that part is free, and seeing if that changes anything. If not then the rack and pinion.

Blujen56 04-03-2012 07:48 PM

Rack and Pinion
Your problem is contaminated system. If the fluid is as bad as you say, replacing the rack ans pump is the only option. Flushing is maintenance not repair. Advance should replace pump under warranty, get a new rack and it wouldn't hurt to replace both lines. After you replace the rack, you will need an alignment or at the least a toe in adjustment. You are wasting money and time doing anything else.

Doc Holliday 04-03-2012 08:56 PM

I have a feeling that's what's going to have to happen. Most likely we'll start again with another new/rebuilt pump from Advance and then do the rack.

Thanks for the insight.

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