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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Variable assist not working?

Ever since I bought my current 96 bird, and the very first thing I noticed when I drove it for the first time, is that the steering feels very "tight" and the somewhat loud "whine" from the PS pump at low speed is not present. The car does in fact have power steering, the PS fluid is full, the wheel feels OK when turned, but it feels like the added power assist for slow speed is not there. High speed steering feels basically normal.

First off, could this be caused by the underdrive pullies?

If they are not the issue, what then? I read on here somewhere that new/reman PS pumps no longer come with some special valve that is needed for the variable assist? Could it be that the pump was replaced and the valve not used? I have heard that under any sort of failure of the variable assist the system defaults to full assist at all times...clearly that is not the case.

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 09:27 PM
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It very well could be a result of the underdrive pulley. I had a similar problem, I fixed it by flushing the steering fluid (used Mercon V), and disconnected the EVO connector On the pump for a day and plugged it back in. It works a lot better now. I suggest you do the same.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 09:58 PM
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EVO defaults to full assist when it's not functioning, not having the valve would result in the steering being light at high speed and about the same during parking.

Low or old fluid can cause those low engine speed "pauses" in assist

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 07:45 AM
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My first thoughts are yes, the underdrive pulley could be affecting things somewhat, but old fluid is a BIG contributor to enhanced effort on the part of the driver during slow speed maneuvers, especially near the stops.

So far I have flushed three of these cars cars that had stiff steering at low speeds, every time fresh fluid has cured the issue.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 11:53 AM
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I don't have them on my TBird, but I use inline filters in the steering return line in my other cars plus I periodically flush the fluid.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 04:06 PM
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FYI, I think my EVO valve was "stuck". After disconnecting the connector I heard it make a noise like it went into "full assist" fail safe mode. That made a difference IMHO. Changing the fluid should be #1 though. Use good fluid, not cheap wally world stuff. Go for Mercon V if you plan on keeping the car any length of time, you'll only need a quart or two.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 04:29 PM
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Hmmm.. good stuff.
I have the same problem as Earl. Thing is the fluid is new and fresh .. previous owner had just changed rack. Even cheap fluid ought to work for a little while. Think I'll swap the EVO valve with the old Bird's.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 05:21 PM
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The N/A 3.8 birds didn't have EVO power steering.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theterminator93 View Post
The N/A 3.8 birds didn't have EVO power steering.
Hmmm.. my bad. I knew that once. It's an anticipator switch to keep rpms up.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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So, I have never changed power steering fluid...Do you just unhook a hose somewhere and drain it out? Or is it more involved?
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-25-2011, 12:06 AM
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EVO variable assist...

There's basically three parts to the system; the solenoid on the pump, the box under the dash, and the steering wheel sensor.

If you have replaced everything (pump, rack, fluid), and still have issues, it's the electronics. (lol)

There are two things I know of that make it turn off suddenly; a warped wheel that makes the steering vibrate, and moving the steering wheel really fast. I really hate the last one.

The box can go bad, and it think that any movement is too much.
Or that you're not going over 15mph.
Or it wont drive the solenoid, etc...

The steering rate sensor is at the bottom of the steering column, under the cover by your knees. It can get really dirty, and have problems reading right. Compressed air will clean it.

Or the solenoid can stick, and have full assist all the time. I'm fairly sure the way the valve is, it can't stick at low assist.

If the rack or fluid is bad enough, the assist will go in and out. Play makes the rate sensor trip the system out.

The Red cougar was doing this just before I replaced the rack, and Lazarus is just starting it.

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-25-2011, 06:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl View Post
So, I have never changed power steering fluid...Do you just unhook a hose somewhere and drain it out? Or is it more involved?
The first couple times I did it, I unhooked the lines to the cooler. The most recent time, however, I unhooked the pressure line to the cooler from the junction point from steel to rubber hose near the bottom of the radiator on the driver's side. I pulled the tire to make it easier.

Get the front two wheels off the ground first. I whack the fuel cutoff switch in the trunk and I run a small hose stuffed into the larger hose on the car into a pan, then crank the starter while I turn the wheel from stop to stop. Periodically I check to make sure the reservoir doesn't completely empty. I go through about 2 quarts of fluid before I'm satisfied most of the crap is flushed, some go even more.

-Brandon
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 01:33 PM
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Remove the return line from the cooler at the reservoir and put into large catch container. Cap off the reservoir and fill with fresh fluid. Pull fuse to fuel pump and crank engine while turning steering from end to end. Refill reservoir and repeat a few times.

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