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Power steering intermittent whine

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Hey all, so my power steering has started to whine and I can feel it through the steering wheel. It's not super bad, my ford ranger was way noisier than this but that's a ford for ya. I first noticed it on my last camping trip. Aired down my 31x10.5 to 20psi for the first time for a 40 mile dirt road drive at moderate speeds. The last 7 miles was pretty rough but 2wd, and the last 100 meters or so required 4lo to crawl over boulders. Reason for airing down was the deep sand at the bottom where the camp site resided. I noticed it on the way out when we left.

 

I use my truck for city delivery driving short distances 5 days a week of about a mile or so at a time. It usually won't start making noises till an hour into my shift. The fluid is a little low, doesn't read on the dip stick but I looked in there while turning the wheels and it's high enough to not suck air. I actually just had a thought while typing this, but I do some high speed turns maybe the momentum of the fluid being pushed around in the reservoir allowed air to be introduced into it?

Anyways got any other ideas or things to try or look for? The fluid looks pretty dark, but I've been told there's no need to ever really change the steering fluid. My pitman arm has a small leak but I've posted about it before and came to the conclusion that almost everyone's pitman arm gets some fluid seep.

 

 

 

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There is generally no reason to change ps fluid. If it gets contaminated or something then you do need to change it.

 

Usually a whine is a sign of a failing pump, unless it's a Ford. I would top it off and see if it goes away. Otherwise, run it until the noise gets really bad, then replace the pump before it dies.

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I've been running atf in mine. Regardless, it sounds like the pump may be on its way out or the belt is slipping but leaning towards pump.

 

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I changed the fluid in mine when I got it, just because it was a little dark and probably hadn't been touched since it left Kyushu. I think I just sucked out the res with a turkey baster and refilled with fresh ATF, so it's a partial change, anyway. I don't know if it was needed but it sure didn't hurt anything. Either way, get it up to the line and see if that helps, seems like the easiest thing to rule out.

 

If that doesn't do it, take a look in the res after it starts whining again and see if the fluid still looks normal or if it's got a bunch of bubbles in it.

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I've been running atf in mine. Regardless, it sounds like the pump may be on its way out or the belt is slipping but leaning towards pump.

 

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I hadn't thought to check the belts. They're probably time to be changed anyways. I've put 30k miles on them since I bought it and I'm not sure how many they had from the previous owner. They stroll look good but maybe starting to stretch.

 

 

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I changed the fluid in mine when I got it, just because it was a little dark and probably hadn't been touched since it left Kyushu. I think I just sucked out the res with a turkey baster and refilled with fresh ATF, so it's a partial change, anyway. I don't know if it was needed but it sure didn't hurt anything. Either way, get it up to the line and see if that helps, seems like the easiest thing to rule out.

 

If that doesn't do it, take a look in the res after it starts whining again and see if the fluid still looks normal or if it's got a bunch of bubbles in it.

Sounds good. I'm about to tear the suspension apart tonight and weld new bushing cups on the control arms so I will tinker with the ps while I'm at it. They just run atf? Is all power steering fluid atf? Simpler days back then when they made things strong and used similar stuff all around it seems.

 

 

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Not all. I believe some Honda's use a fluid with proprietary additives. But really any hydraulic fluid should work, it is just a hydraulic pump after all.

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Different makes/models run different fluids. The Ford pickup I'm working on takes Type F ATF. A friend of mine has two Chevys that spec Power Steering Fluid, which is its own special thing. I think my dad's Audi takes some kind of mineral oil. And yeah, I've heard that Hondas are very picky about having their own special stuff. I imagine they've all got different viscosities and seal conditioners and anti-wear additives and whatnot that the systems they go in won't work right without. (There's probably some kind of breakdown on BITOG, if you're looking for a rabbit hole to fall into.) Always check the manual!

 

The Pathy service manual specs Dexron II ATF, so I just used generic dex/merc, same as I used in the trans and transfer.

 

Good luck with the strut rod bushings. Eyeball your camber when you're done, mine changed a bit after doing the bushings and I still need to get around to fixing that!

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Hey,

 

exactly the same thing on my WD21TD, at least I think so - intermittent whine when trying to turn wheels on no or low speed, sounds like a belt screech and the steering wheel gives jumpy feedback. I assume the power steering system is identical on Terrano's and Pathfinder's so maybe you can advise me from your experience. Was your PS issue resolved anyway?
The belts have at least 60k km's (37282.272 miles :D) on them anyway, which looks like a good time to change them and I hope that's the issue. But if it is the pump, what kind of costs would I be looking here?

 

 Fluid reservoir is full.

Edited by Dezervon
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I never could understand why people feel fluids like steering fluid, brake fluid and such are "lifetime fluids". Why do we change the oil in the engine, trans, diffs, coolant? Because the fluids break down over time and the additives get used up leading to problems down the road. 

 

That said, yes steering fluid used in our old Nissan trucks is simply Dextron ATF, so no legitimate reason to not change it  once in a while. The fluid does break down over time and neglect will cause wear in the pump and gear. A cooler is also a good idea in trucks with larger tires and or used off road. 

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Brake and steering fluids main purpose is hydraulic (while the pumps/cylinders do get lubrication from the fluid as well I think?) while tranny and engine oil main purpose is lubrication. But I agree that the term "lifetime" is a bit strong, especially given how strong the Terranos/Pathys are built. Ofc to have them last still means they need to be maintained properly and changing the fluids is essential. 

 

OT: Anyway, my issue is now resolved - air moisture mixed with Krown corrosion detergent and a slightly loose belt being the cause. Fixed by tightening the pumps pulley and the steering wheel is light as new.

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Some fluids last a lot longer than others, but all eventually break down or get contaminated by wear material, which accelerates wear on the components that depend on them. IMO "lifetime fluid" is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Good to hear yours was an easy fix!

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