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Old 03-10-2007, 08:51 AM   #1
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Default my 1988 sse power steering tends to sometimes feel stiff

hi everyone latley for the past month i noticed lil by lil that my power steering is getting stiff to turn the wheel at times. for example when i first start the car in the morning and try to turn a corner it feels like manual steering '' it takes me two hands with pressure'' to turn the wheel and it stays like this for about the first 20 minutes to 1/2 hour of driving after first starting the car from being parked over night, but during the day if i get in and out the car to take care of some things it still does get stiff when i start the car but loosens right up in about 30 seconds..

i have a GM made actron code scanner that will work on my 1988 bonneville sse. it is meant to read engine and abs trouble codes. and i have the actron code book that came with the scanner as well as the original 1988 bonneville sse GM shop repair manual.
will the code scanner work or should i just take some advice from you guys and be sure i will fix the problem.. thanks for your help.
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Old 03-10-2007, 09:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: my 1988 sse power steering tends to sometimes feel stiff

Dumb question perhaps, but have you checked the power steering fluid?

The steering rack on our cars is manual with hydraulic assist. If there'* no fluid to pump, or no pressure from the pump, then the rack is going to feel like a very heavy manual rack.

Addendum: If I remember correctly, power steering fluid, like brake fluid, is hydroscopic and will absorb moisture. If the fluid hasn't been changed in the 20 years the car has been on this earth, it might be time for some new fluid. (Check the seal on the resevoir cap too.) If you problem gets better when the rack gets warm, then it'* likely a problem with the fluid.
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Old 03-10-2007, 02:26 PM   #3
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yes flush the fluid and add a quality replacement with seal conditioners. should help a lot.
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Old 03-10-2007, 07:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: my 1988 sse power steering tends to sometimes feel stiff

Quote:
Originally Posted by 88bonnsse
when i first start the car in the morning and try to turn a corner it feels like manual steering '' it takes me two hands with pressure'' to turn the wheel and it stays like this for about the first 20 minutes to 1/2 hour..
Sounds like "Morning Sickness". This was a term they gave FWD Saginaw racks in the 80'* because of the symptom you described. As the car warmed up, the heavy steering went away. The problem was the spool valves in the steering rack. But it could also be due to contaminated fluid or a low fluid level. I would go with the Gearheads here and check the p/* fluid level, check for leaks, and add some p/* conditioner to the p/* fluid.
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:49 AM   #5
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good morning;

i'm in need of a little clarifaction on this pls and thanks. i have a similar thing with my 89. when its cold the steering is stiff but usually after a few minutes driving loosens up and is fine for the day. i asked my mechanic about it and he said with nearly 200,000 miles on the rack and pinion unit is just wearing. when it feels like manual all the time we'll put another rack in it. the car was dealerserviced til i got it so if the dealer calls for a p/* fluid change it was done, otherwise it would be the original. if that is the case is a fluid change hard to do and very expensive? it'* something i'd like to know before i go back to the garage and say "how about we try this?"

thanks, bil
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bil
if that is the case is a fluid change hard to do and very expensive? it'* something i'd like to know before i go back to the garage and say "how about we try this?"l
It'* not hard to do. You can even let the PS pump do the work for you to flush the rack.

Take the belt off so you can spin the PS pump by hand.

Disconnect the low pressure side of the rack (The hose going back to the resevior) and drain out the old fluid. Leave the pan under the rack to catch the fluid as you flush it out.

Plug the hose (so the fresh fluid doesn't drain out the return hose) and fill the resevoir with fresh fluid.

Alternate spinning the pump pulley by hand and turning the steering wheel stop to stop. This will clean out the pump, high pressure line, and rack with fresh fluid.

When clean fluid is comming out the low pressure side of the rack, reconnect the hose to the resevior and top it off with fresh fluid.

Your done.
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:40 PM   #7
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PS fluid isn't hydroscopic, however it can get old.

I had a lot of PS problems in the corsica. It had a pretty big leak, so it always had good fluid in it [technically getting flushed].. but ATF seemed to really do the trick. I guess the additives in ATF seem to work better in older stuff. I liked it so much when I did the engine swap in the bonnie I flushed it with all ATF. It never had a problem before, and it doesn't have a problem now. But along with that I used some Lucas power steering fix. That stuff also did the same stuff, except it would always leak out in the corsica, even running that stuff straight 100%! So I stopped using it.

Do a flush and run 50/50 ATF/Lucas. If there is any chance that the rack can be fixed, that mix will surely do it.
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:11 PM   #8
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Default steering

The factory unit in the SSE was a little stiff due the the high ratio in the rack. It can be freed up a bit as mentioned.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:48 AM   #9
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my steering is stiff at times too, i think i read somewhere that our systems are speed sensitive and that at lower speeds it can be a little rough
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Old 04-02-2007, 09:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bil
good morning;

i'm in need of a little clarifaction on this pls and thanks. i have a similar thing with my 89. when its cold the steering is stiff but usually after a few minutes driving loosens up and is fine for the day. i asked my mechanic about it and he said with nearly 200,000 miles on the rack and pinion unit is just wearing. when it feels like manual all the time we'll put another rack in it. the car was dealerserviced til i got it so if the dealer calls for a p/* fluid change it was done, otherwise it would be the original. if that is the case is a fluid change hard to do and very expensive? it'* something i'd like to know before i go back to the garage and say "how about we try this?"

thanks, bil
Bil this is was designed into the car so that it can warm up faster. There was a recall on my buick lesabre ttype because of the same thing. i didnt mess with it i dont mind it. but check to see if it is a recall.
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