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Steering box or PS Pump???

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Old December 5th, 2011, 8:25 AM
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Default Steering box or PS Pump???

Vehicle: 2000-1/2 Suburban 1500 w/ 175,000 miles

Problem: Turning steering wheel to the right has become extremely difficult; almost as if power steering is gone completely. Noise is akin to a groaning hiss; no whine. Belt and tension is good; fluid level and looks to be fine, however I'll look at color and smell later. Left turning not affected.

Question(s): How can I determine if it's the pump or the steering box? I listened with a stethoscope to both, but really couldn't isolate the noise to either (maybe due to feedback). When a pump goes bad, can it only affect one side of the steering? I've only ever experienced pump problems as affecting the overall steering.

Thanks for any assistance if you can ... I'll be looking at this further tonight.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 1:19 AM
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Have you checked your tie rod ends on the right side of the truck. this is kind of strange. When steering pumps go bad most times they are leaking. I don't know what kind of brake system you have, some of these trucks have the power steering pump going through the brake system booster. A good example is the GM JH6 brake, a hose from the power steering feeds into the brake booster and back out to the steering box.

Well if it were me . I would use the process of elimination, because both pump and box make noise when they go bad sometimes.Some pumps leak when bad. Steering tie rod ends give the same result and noise. that's if there really bad. The reason I would do this is because it's hard for you steer on the right side only. (Bad pumps don't effect only one side of the truck). That's why I'm saying check the tie rods ends. A bad steering box might though.

Check the steering with out a loaded suspension.

(You might want to try this first without removing the tires and tie rod ends. being that there is no force on the steering and the suspension will not be loaded on the front end. block the truck rear wheels. apply the parking brake. put the truck on jack stands. truck remain in park.) start truck turn wheels lefts and right. if you have no noise and easy steering you found your problem. Right side tire rods.

other wise I would remove both tires. ( put the truck on jack stands first, block truck, apply the parking brake ) disconnect the steering tie rods ends on both sides. start the truck up while on the jack stands. ( make sure the truck remains in park) turn the wheel from left to right. if you no longer here the noise and its easy to steer it's your right side tie rods

A bad box will give some kind of grinding noise you will feel it in the steering at the slightest movement. a bad pump will leak , not a drip leak, that can be noticed right away, but you will see a darker colored metal around the pump front and in the bracket . sort of like sticky dirt clinging to the metal around the pump. some people think this in engine grease . its not it's your pump leaking. So that in itself is good sign that your pump is bad. GM pumps don't leak like dripping water and they don,t make much noise either when there bad sometimes not at all.

I had two bad pumps on my 01 Suburban, and it never made any noise, it was just dirt like grease around the pump which told me it leaked and the pump was not pumping. Also If your pump has hose going to the brake booster setup you might want to check the hose there to see if the pump is pumping fluid. You could also disconnect it at the steering box to check as well. if its pumping then you have a bad box. If not then replace the pump.

This seems to be a process of elimination here. or you could it take to a shop

Last edited by NMguy; December 12th, 2011 at 1:38 AM.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 7:42 AM
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Default price?

which part is cheaper?

replace that one. then test.

if not, it's the other
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Old December 12th, 2011, 7:53 AM
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This weekend prior to your reply I jacked up the front, turned the key on and turned the steering wheel lock-to-lock. It made no noise and there was no binding. When I lowered the truck, turned it lock-to-lock and again the steering is very difficult to turn to the right and the noise is not grinding but more of a restricted fluid sound. I do not notice any leaks from either the pump nor the steering box. However, I purchased a reman steering box and while I attempted to remove the pitman arm from the shaft, I simply could not get it off. I used the proper OEM fork tool, but due to my bad back and lack of a proper lift (no leverage) I found it very difficult. I am taking it over to the mechanic tomorrow and will have them determine what it is. If it's not the box, I'll return it and see what the mechanic says after that (re: pump, tie rods, etc). Thanks very much for your reply NMguy!
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Old December 12th, 2011, 9:27 AM
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Default pitman

try heating the pitman arm around the shaft. expanding it.

soak it w/PB blaster or similar.

I've done many-a-pitman arm for jeeps (lift kits)

rusted on is fun.

you crank on them, sometimes they go PING, and go flying 20' away or crack you in the leg.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 11:18 AM
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It's over at my mechanic's right now. He's already looked at it and it's definitely the steering gear box. He has a much better tool for getting that pitman arm off too. So we'll see how it goes.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Truck is done. Was definitely the steering box; I still have to go pick it up, but he also said that some vibration I felt in the front end that I thought may have been brake related, may have actually been a result of the box. We'll see. I really appreciate the replies from those who responded!
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Old July 7th, 2017, 7:02 PM
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2004 z71 5.3 litre , power steering fluid pouring out from somewhere, mechanic said it was a hose or ps pump, he replaced both, after he did that it worked great BUT it was still gushing out ps fluid, put it on rack again and now he said its the damn gear box . can a gear box cause one to leak that bad and make the ps pump go out
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