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Greg Robinson
Greg Robinson, Marine Mechanic
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 211
Experience:  20 years in the industry.Outboards and sterndrive specialist.Featuring Volvo, Evinrude\Johnson, Merc
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How can I tell if my power steering actuator is bad I have

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How can I tell if my power steering actuator is bad? I have witnessed slop in the hydraulic actuator when wiggling the outdrive. Could there be air n the system? I have a picture. The input shaft steering cable looks like to moves while wiggling the outdrive.

Picture of area moving is pointed out in the picture!/photo.php?pid=5132412&id=548412403&ref=fbx_album

You have a mechanical steering system with a power steering assist cylinder. It has "shuttle" valves inside the actuator that open up when you turn the steering wheel and allow it to help push. They usually are fairly problem free with the occasional pump failure or the actuator itself will leak fluid . I have seen them run for 1000's of hours.

That being said your picture doesn't show the end of the actuator(that's where they leak)but if it's dry and the power steering reservoirs is full and the steering feels normal , you are most likely ok. Be aware that when you steer hard over the pressure increases dramatically. You will hear it strain and if it was going to leak it would present itself in short time.There is no bleeding required for the power steering assist so it is doubtful there is air in the system .

Hope that answers your question. Ps you can install a sea star hydraulic helm and ram that would increase the steering performance drastically. They run about 1000 bucks installed.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hio Greg,

One thing I didnt note is that I have had an external heat exchanger leak (PS pump cooler - external to the cooler leak). I have tightened the hose stopping the leake. The pump mounted on the motor has run empty more than once this year. Could this affect your descrition being that is has run low or maybe empty? Also, look at the right arrow in the picture, that area of the system actualy pushes away/out from the piece with the oil line connected to it (shuttle?) Anyway, I suspected a gimbal problem but the outdrive movement (wiggle/play) shows up in this shaft. The gimbal parts are all spot on from what I see.

Yes , they are loud and and ineffective when they run dry. The oil cooler leak may have damaged the pump. They are fairly inexpensive and a snap to change.

The shuttle valve is only actuated when you turn the wheel. So , yes you will see it move a little bit when you steer left or right. The old siezed outdrive gimble parts would have been my next area to check.

Again steering the drive hardover will force a leak in a hot minute. It's an easy way to make sure it's not leaking anywhere after you change the pump if needed.

Thanks again for the question,

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