Help! Stiff, noisy steering in 99 Sable

Hi...
I have a 99 Mercury Sable that recently started making some serious loud whirring noise when turning (mostly left). After a while the steering got so stiff I could barely turn a corner. I took it into a
Meineke; they tried to tell me it might be the rack, but it didn't sound like it was, because it wasn't jerking like they described a rack problem would seem.
They replaced the steering pump, fluid, and a tensor belt for about $500 and, of course, it didn't fix it. It was ok for about a week, and now it's almost as bad as it was. The noise also happens when I'm parked and just turn the wheel; if it stays turned, the noise keeps going until I turn it straight again.
I don't want to replace the rack unless I'm convinced that's the problem, which I'm not. Any idea what the problem here is?
Thanks for the help.
Tenkin
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

In the first place the power steering pump has no idea whether you're turning right or left... or really turning at all... it just supplies fluid under pressure. Ayup.. it's REAL DUMB!
On the other hand the rack valving DOES know which way you're turning the wheel....IF it's not malfunctioning. In which case, the valving might fight itself. Why it worked for a while, I have no idea.... unless the new fluid cleared a blockage for a little bit.
Just remember the 'customer is always right!'
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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Let me get this straight... the mechanic felt it was the rack.... SOMEWHERE along the line, the rack didn't get changed but the pump and associated items DID (I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere)....
Interestingly, it was "after a while" that it got so bad that you had to take it to a shop....
Here's what I'm thinking... the rack started "going south".... It got ignored long enough to take the pump with it.... The pump got changed but the rack was so full of crap that, eventually, it took out the new pump..... Bottom line, the rack is still bad (bad racks don't usually "jerk" but often exhibit "morning sickness").
Moral of the story... if something is busted, it will remain busted (since it can't heal itself).... If it stays busted long enough, it can bust other stuff.... Keeping on top of repairs as they are required usually has it's long term rewards... delaying repairs, most often, has a way of increasing the size of the final bill....
Important things to remember.... a good tech is merely a communicator... he listens to your car - translates the information into English - converts that to a dollar amount and tells you.... There is no requirement to shoot the messenger.... You don't tell the doctor how to cure you... you don't have the experience or knowledge. Unlike the human body (relatively unchanged for how many eons?), the automobile is in a constant state of flux.... Imagine how a doctor would work if, every three years, your kidneys, liver, heart, brain and sphincter swapped locations and/or started functioning "differently". You wont believe a mechanic who is looking at your face.... how could you believe someone that could be messaging on "I heart clean little boys" (for all anyone knows) all the while he is browsing a newsgroup... how could you believe someone that could tell you it is the interocetor gone bad when we all know that the flux capacitor is out of alignment with the flam ring???? (I just had to add that).
Forrest Gump once said something - didn't have a damned thing to do with a box of chocolates - that his momma always said.... I'll spare the gory details...
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Well here is what I think... When you bring the streeing to center and the noise drops, I beleive it is the pump. No load no Noise. I beleive if you had a rack problem it would have a mechanical feel to it. The whiring sound is a symtom of the pump. Are you positive it was replaced? The pump I mean? The whiring sound, sounds like vane failure or low on fluid, or bleeding, turning the wheel from right to left until you here the pump make a whishing noise. You may also want to do a flush, can't say flush really but a couple of quarts of power steering fluid put in and taken out with a Turkey baster... In between, have the car on a jack and rotate the wheel to the limit to bleed the air out. Use a high quality fluid. You can get good fluids at Walmart for a good price. The leak preventer types are good for the seals of the system. Let me know what happens if you decide to try my idea.
Gerald
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Also turning the wheel back and forth many times during this flush process with change out the fluid during bastings. I recently did a 3 quart flush, over filling is ok for the short time you will flush. Cheap solution if it works. Always possible it is the rack but...
Gerald
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'll try the turkey baster. I actually did that a little when it first started making noise; seemed to help for a bit, but I didn't flush it much, or turn the wheel while doing it. This will be a much cheaper option than changing the rack...although I think they changed all the fluid when they replaced the pump. I'm still not convinced the rack is the problem, as it went from perfectly fine to noisy to incredibly stiff within about a week to 10 days. As noted, there's no noise when it's in the center position, so it definitely seems like a motor/pump kind of thing (it makes noise/stiffens on both sides, it's just worse going left). It's always possible they didn't replace the pump...just because I paid for it, doesn't mean it happened.
Thanks again for the help...I'll let you know how it works.
Tenkin
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

There's no noise on center because there is no load on the pump! Let's see if i have this right: The pump was noisy and the steering was stiff. You took it somewhere to get it checked. They told you it needed a rack and pinion and you didn't believe them. You had the shop replace the pump and now the problem has returned. So now you don't think they replaced the pump!! It's right on the top front corner of the accessory train, open the friggin hood and look for Petes sake. You have a bad rack and pinion!!! Don't be surprised if the problem in the rack has damaged your new pump.
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Tom,
Agreed the installation of the pump should have been checked but flushing this system correctly and getting new fluid to the rack may make a differance.
Tenkin,
Racks are hydraulic units, they put up with allot but there is a chance to flush and clean them. Prestone makes a good fluid, it's about 3.00 at walmart... It might take more then one flush. Do one 3 quart flush one week and then another two weeks down the raod and see what happens. If you don't know how to replace the rack it will be costly. Couple of 20 or 30$ to try a flush cannot hurt. Yes Tenkin, let me know how it works please. Turn those wheels back and forth 10 times in between bastings. Don't be shy, work the wheel quickly. I think pumps are pretty resilient, I think the pump will survive if it is new.
Change the rack, change the pump.
or..... do like you've done once already, live with the consequences and find a group that'll listen to yer rant about how YOU thinks what it is.
~:~ MarshMonster ~takes a sip of his mushroom tea......~
I think some people are unwilling to try new things.
Gerald
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

====================== Change the rack, change the pump.
or..... do like you've done once already, live with the consequences and find a group that'll listen to yer rant about how YOU thinks what it is.
~:~ MarshMonster ~takes a sip of his mushroom tea......~
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