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What could cause heavy steering

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Hello everybody,

When taking turns the steering feels a little heavy and numb. It actually feels less direct than it should be:

When turning to the left or right and subsequently letting the steering weel return to 'normal', you can feel some judder/wobble while it is retuning to the straigth position (normally that motion feels very fluent).

My question is: what could cause this?

A nice check list with causes and solutions, alongside with an estimate what it would cost to have fixed, would be nice.

First on my list is checking whether the tires are properly inflated. As I checked this a few months ago, it should be just fine.

Many thanks for whom is willing to spell this out for me!

Darn:-) should my question be in the Ford section? Can't seem to relocate it...


First thing to check is the belt to be sure its not slipping, and the fluid level needs to be checked for the proper level.

If both of these are ok, then i would suspect the power steering pump to be at fault.

Have you checked those?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Virtual Wrench's Post: Fluid level has been checked. It is between the min and max level indicators. (I've got a Civic repair manual on the shelf giving me hints as to where to look:-)).

How can you tell whether the belt is slipping? When I start the car on cold mornings, this belt makes the well known ringing sound. It goes away (almost completely) after drving a few miles. Is this what you mean by slipping?
(our Ford diesel has been making this ringing noise for years. My dad said not to worry about that)


If the noise goes away right away, its probably not slipping.

These systems require a very special power steering fluid. Do you know if any other type other than Honda fluid has been put in the system?

How long have you owned it?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
The noise appears to go away when the car reaches normal operating temperature.

The car was manufactured in 1996. I bought it when it had 60 000 km in 2001.

The car has always been serviced at my dealer's. The problem is they don't look very hard for problems:-). Can my dealer (easily) verify whether the pump is working properly?

Thanks for that info

They tend sometimes to overlook things but if you were to specifically ask them to check the power steering system, they will deal directly with it and will be able to confirm the pump to be at fault,,,the only other possibility would be the steerong rack and pinion unit, but it is far more common for the pump to be at fault.

I'm sure then will be to test both and confirm the problem.



If you have further questions on this, please feel free to reply.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Virtual Wrench's Post: I am very happy with the info and prompt responses. In all fairness, I will accept your answers.

I've got one more question and one more piece of probably useful info. It feels like the power steering capability has slightly worsened. It is not entirely 'gone'.

Just out of interest: could you tell me (more or less) how they check it and what it would cost (approximately) to replace the pump and or steering rack/ pinion unit.

On 'how stuff works' I have found what all these things do. Unfortunately there is no price info or a 'how to check' section:-)


They will do a pressure test of the system to determine if the pump is producing enough pressure, and then they will test the rack pretty much the same way.

It may just be a weak pressure release valve in the pump and the complete unit wouldnt need replaced,or possibly one of the hoses has a pinhole leak and is sucking air into the system,,only after testing can you determine this though.

Hopefully thats all thats needed, as the pump runs around $500 new from the dealer and the rack and pinion runs around $1000.....

Best of luck my friend!

Virtual Wrench, Ford Mechanic
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 14597
Experience: 35 years Master Mechanic
Virtual Wrench and 5 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to Virtual Wrench's Post: Many thanks for your insights. You probably saved me a great many visits to the dealer's. That second number does not sound very promising ;). But most likely, as you said, it will be the pump.

You are very welcome!

Thanks for asking.

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Virtual Wrench, Ford Mechanic
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 14597
Experience:  35 years Master Mechanic
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