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1974 Camaro Power Steering Pump Impossible to get working


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Hello,

   I have a 1974 Camaro that I restored about 9 years ago.  I didn't do much to the system when I restored it except flush it.  It worked after the resto, but it never worked very well, it would stop working after a few miles, only noticeable when pulling into my garage when I was barely moving.  Eventually, it stopped working all together.  I sent the pump out for a rebuild, got it back, followed the bleeding procedure in the shop manual, and it did pretty much the same thing.  Sent it in under warranty after a while, then same thing again.  This has been going on for over 5 years now.  Yes, 5 years.  I sent the pump back for a third rebuild and asked them what was wrong with my pump and they said it is overheating and frying the insides.  When I got it back again, I hooked it up and it worked great for about 40 miles, then stopped working again.  This time, I asked for a different rebuild pump altogether, thinking there must be something wrong with my original.  I got the "new" pump back 2 week ago, hooked it up, started the flushing procedure, and absolutely zero fluid is being pumped out of the pump when the low pressure return line is plugged and the high pressure line is disconnected from the unit entirely.  This is after disabling the ignition and cranking it for about 10 seconds.  

 

I would think that it should be pumping out some fluid if the engine is being cranked (but not started).  The specific instructions provided by the rebuilder say to bleed the system by cranking the disabled ignition while disconnecting the pump return line from the back.  No fluid came out when doing this.  We kept disconnecting hoses to see if there was a clog, yet no fluid came out even with no hoses on the pump at all.  I understand the concept of power steering, but I have no idea how the pump works.

 

As you could imagine, after 5+ years of never getting a power steering pump to work after 3 rebuilds and a whole new pump altogether, I'm so frustrated I'm about to lose my mind.  Not to mention the shipping costs back and forth and the hours and hours of wasted time.  If anyone can help, here are my questions for the experts:

 

1) When the pump is on the car and everything is hooked up, with the exception of the low pressure return line (and plugging the low pressure return port), should fluid be coming out of the low pressure return hose when the engine is cranked for about 10 seconds (without starting the car)?  I called the rebuilder today and explained that I get no fluid coming out under pressure if I hand-crank the pulley when the pump is out of the car or if I manipulate the pump by cranking the ignition while it's actually on the car.  The shop "expert" said that I have to turn the steering wheel slowly from lock to lock to and I should have pressure.  This makes no sense to me, as turning he wheel should have no effect on getting the pump to start pumping, if, in fact, there is no pressure to begin with.

 

2) What are some ideas on why this pump isn't working?  How can I test it without damaging it to see if it will work? 

 

3) When the pump was working, what could cause it to burn up in only 40 miles?  Could it just be an air bubble in the system?  Could there be a clog in the steering box?  If the could be a clog, wouldn't it fail immediately, not after 40 miles?

 

I'm completely flabbergasted and in a state of disbelief over this nonsense.  Any expert help is greatly appreciated.

 

Chris

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There are about a bazillion Saginaw PS pumps on the roads.  Yours is the first that I've ever heard of that exhibits this problem. I've personally rebuilt these pumps and there aren't many parts in them that can fail.  About the only failure modes I can envision are bad or improperly installed vanes or a bad flow control valve on the outlet port. When you get the pump rebuilt, does it come with the flow control valve installed, or do you have to install it?

 

The valve is located under the outlet port fitting at the back of the pump.

 

Sheafig1_3.jpg

 

When you unscrew the outlet fitting, this is what comes out.  The flow control valve is item 2.

 

PS%20valve.jpg

 

 

The valve comes apart like this. If the spring is broken or the orifice is plugged, you'll have problems. Also, if the ball seat screw comes loose, you'll get no pressure output.

 

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSdQBDnYzWzSJ1Qi0M1zDu

 

I would buy a new pump from RockAuto and install it.  A brand new Lares pump is $130 from RockAuto. Rebuilt pumps are about half that much.

 

12137-b__ra_p.jpg

 

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Thanks for the reply.  Yes, I have a 1 in a million problem.  No one can solve it thru multiple rebuilds and two pumps.  Seems impossible, but it's a 5 year problem.

 

It does come with the flow control valve.  I unscrewed the high pressure fitting to make sure this wasn't stuck, and it was not stuck.  Don't know about the ball seat screw.  Lares is the company I'm dealing with.  They've been great with warranties at least.

 

To the experts, what would help me the most at this point is a yes or no answer to the below question.  An answer to this question will allow me to understand how it should work and how to hold a discussion with Lares and help determine if I need to send my pump back for a 4th time.

 

-When the pump is on the car and everything is hooked up, with the exception of the low pressure return line (and plugging the low pressure return port), should fluid be coming out of the low pressure return hose when the engine is cranked for about 10 seconds (without starting the car)?  Yes or no?

 

Thanks.

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What are the chances of getting 4 bad pumps in a row, a bazillion to one? It sounds like there is something burning out the pumps and all there is to the system is the pump, the steering box and 2 hoses. I would suspect there is something wrong with the steering box or it is plugged up somehow. Does the pump "sing" or make noise, and does the steering act funny besides having no power assist after you drive it?

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To answer the question fluid should flow freely through the system when the steering is pointed straight ahead. I don't know if just cranking the engine turns the pump fast enough but if it does, fluid should flow.

 

The system is designed so there is no pressure on the system until you turn the steering wheel. This closes a valve which directs the fluid pressure to turn the wheels. But normally when cruising straight down the road, the fluid continuously circulates with no pressure.

 

This makes me think something is wrong with the steering box, causing excess pressure at all times which is burning out the pumps. If this theory is correct I would be surprised if you didn't hear the pump 'sing' or the belt squeal.

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Is there such a possibility of there being pumps that run in different directions?

Seems like I remember there being water pumps that run opposite when they started using serpentine belt systems.

When I first started reading this it dawned on me that there must be a problem as Rusty suggests. 

I have seen steering gear go bad before.

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It sounds unusual for so many pumps to be bad in a row. I admit that I know very little about power steering systems. The only thing that I would ask is, "it is possible to hook the hoses up wrong?" If so, could that be the problem? 

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Thanks again for the thoughts.  Hoses are different sizes, so hoses are not the issue.

 

I've taken all the thoughts here and tried to do some research.  The only logical conclusion I can make is that something is wrong with the steering gear box.  It's possible my pump has an issue as well, but being that I've been through 3 rebuilds with the same negative result, I'll going to pull the box, pump, and hose and send them off.  I'll get the box rebuilt, which must be the problem, then have the other stuff retested to makes sure.  Thanks to all for replying, that was very helpful towards making a decision that the steering box should be checked.

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4 minutes ago, hursst said:

Thanks again for the thoughts.  Hoses are different sizes, so hoses are not the issue.

 

I've taken all the thoughts here and tried to do some research.  The only logical conclusion I can make is that something is wrong with the steering gear box.  It's possible my pump has an issue as well, but being that I've been through 3 rebuilds with the same negative result, I'll going to pull the box, pump, and hose and send them off.  I'll get the box rebuilt, which must be the problem, then have the other stuff retested to makes sure.  Thanks to all for replying, that was very helpful towards making a decision that the steering box should be checked.

 

So have you disconnected the high pressure hose from the box, put it into the  top of the pump reservoir, and seen if fluid flows?

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Just for the fun of it, fit a longer length of hose to the discharge side of the pump long enough to fit into whatever you are using for containment, start the car and just go to a fast idle.

Make sure to secure it well because if it does start pumping, the oil will want to go everywhere but the container you are discharging  into.

Before going to the expense and work of sending the steering box out you really need to be positive its not working.

Do the easy stuff first, its not rocket science.

Cranking the engine on the starter may not be enough to get the oil in motion.

You may also want to inspect a similar pump on a running car to verify the hoses are indeed not reversed, suction to discharge. They could have been reversed a long time?

If you still have no oil discharge, its possible the box may be to blame.

Good luck.

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I appreciate the note, but I'm giving up and starting over.  Even if I can get the pump working, at this point, I'm pretty sure that the steering box must have something to do with it.  The odds of me burning out a freshly rebuilt pump 3 times because of a bad pump are almost zero.  Burning out for a 4th time is not worth it.  I'd rather pay big bucks to have the whole thing examined at this point.  When you're this frustrated, I don't even care about the expense anymore, I just need it fixed.

 

The hoses have different sized connectors, so there is no chance of reversing the hoses. 

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38 minutes ago, hursst said:

I have done that.  No fluid flows when cranking the engine with the ignition disabled.

 

You need the pump to be turning with the engine running, not just cranking it on the starter.

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