The classic causes of that are low fluid level and belt slippage (which
you can usually hear). If the car has computer-controlled,
speed-sensitive steering, it may be an electronic problem.
Out of curiosity, has the dealer tested your alternator? Voltage
fluctuations can adversely affect control computers. Since you seem to
be having multiple problems that could be electronic in nature, that's a
reasonable possibility. Do your dash lights ever change brightness for
no apparent reason? That would be another indication of a voltage
problem. If the alternator and battery are OK, check the ground
connections throughout the car, particular the main grounds for the
battery and engine, and any under-dash grounds for the computer modules.
This car won't have anything electronic in the steering, so that can be
ruled out. I've seen a similar issue in Elantras a couple times, and they
required new steering pumps. I'd recommend checking the fluid and all the
belts before jumping in that far, though.
That's good to know. I know that the Elantra's power steering is pretty
basic and purely mechanical. That leads me to a somewhat odd question
that I hope you may be able to answer.
I really don't like power steering, having owned vehicles with manual
rack and pinion steering for 30 years. I find the Elantra's steering to
be over-boosted and too vague on-center. Since it IS rack and pinion and
the steering ratio is similar to manual rack and pinion steering, I'm
tempted to disconnect the pump and drain the fluid from the rack. With
the hydraulic fluid removed from the rack, it stands to reason that it
should feel and function just like a manual rack. Does this sound
reasonable to you?
I'm not asking for you to "bless" the procedure, as I understand that
you might not want to condone such a modification. All I'm asking is if
you think the idea is mechanically sound? If nothing else, it's easily
reversible if it doesn't work.
In most cases, there's significant extra effort required over manual
steering. Any car I've ever driven with broken power steering was far too
hard to steer. This is partly because power steering racks tend to have a
different gearing ratio than manual racks.
I suspect that a lot of the extra resistance is due to the fluid in the
system. Turning the wheel forces it through the valving, which is hard
to do without the assistance of the pump. It definitely seems that there
is something more than just the steering ratio involved, since the
steering effor is still quite high when the vehicle is in motion. At
3.15 turns lock to lock, it's not that high anyway
That's the reason I was wondering if draining the rack - so you'd only
be pushing air through the valves, rather than oil - would effectively
make it work like a manual rack. Have you ever tried anything like this?
After some digging, I actually found a few articles on this type of
modification. You're correct that you need to keep some fluid in the
rack, since that's what lubricates it. However, it CAN be disconnected
from the valve body on the steering column. On the rack, the ports on
either side of the piston can either be connected to each other or to a
small fluid reservoir via a "T" fitting.
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