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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Steering Whine?

Okay, so my Impala seems to run just fine, except for two distinct noises I've been having lately.

There's a low whine when I turn left, and I know for sure it's not the bearing (doesn't even sound the same). There's also an oscillating humming/rubbing sound which seems to be a bit louder when I turn left. So I'm guessing it could be related.

So, could the pump be going bad, the belt, is there air in the system? What is the most likely culprit (including things I haven't mentioned). And remember, the car only whines when turning left.

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 08:16 PM
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Given the asymmetry - it only does it turning left - I suspect the issue is something in the rack and not elsewhere.

That said, have you checked the power steering fluid level? Do you see any fresh spots on the ground?

Doug

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Last edited by plano-doug; 03-09-2017 at 07:41 AM.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by plano-doug View Post
Given the asymmetry - it only does it turning left - I suspect the issue is something in the rack and not elsewhere.

That said, have you checked the power steering fluid level? Do you see any fresh spots on the ground?

Doug

.
I checked it and it was at the "Cold" level when the engine was hot, so I added some fluid. I can check again though it doesn't seem likely that's the issue as I haven't seen any wet spots and the noise persisted even right after I added fluid.

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Originally Posted by hg3300 View Post
I checked it and it was at the "Cold" level when the engine was hot, so I added some fluid. I can check again though it doesn't seem likely that's the issue as I haven't seen any wet spots and the noise persisted even right after I added fluid.
Do you feel anything in the steering? Is it harder turning left than right, for example?

I'm inclined to think there's an issue with the rack, and, since the fluid is low, I'm wondering if there is some seeping at one end of the rack. (Since the fluid is low, it had to come out somewhere.) So I'm thinking maybe there's a bad seal in the rack that is causing the whine and also the low fluid level.

At this point, the rack needs to be inspected including removing the boots on each end to check for leaks.

HTH.

Doug

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plano-doug View Post
Do you feel anything in the steering? Is it harder turning left than right, for example?

I'm inclined to think there's an issue with the rack, and, since the fluid is low, I'm wondering if there is some seeping at one end of the rack. (Since the fluid is low, it had to come out somewhere.) So I'm thinking maybe there's a bad seal in the rack that is causing the whine and also the low fluid level.

At this point, the rack needs to be inspected including removing the boots on each end to check for leaks.

HTH.

Doug

.
The fluid isn't low, it was low. And it could have been like that since November for all I know.

The steering doesn't seem difficult but I thought it was easier at one point, so I don't know. I do know that steering both directions seems to feel the same.

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Originally Posted by hg3300 View Post
The fluid isn't low, it was low. And it could have been like that since November for all I know.

The steering doesn't seem difficult but I thought it was easier at one point, so I don't know. I do know that steering both directions seems to feel the same.
Sorry. I should have said was, not is. The point is that the low fluid level found would indicate a leak somewhere, maybe a slow one. Given that you have a whine when turning left and you found the level low, my instincts are that they are related.

Since you see no obvious fluid on the ground, next I would inspect the rack for leaks inside the boots. I've pulled one off before where the fluid poured out of the boot when it was removed.

HTH.

Doug

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Last edited by plano-doug; 03-10-2017 at 08:34 AM.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plano-doug View Post
Sorry. I should have said was, not is. The point is that the low fluid level found would indicate a leak somewhere, maybe a slow one. Given that you have a whine when turning left and you found the level low, my instincts are that they are related.

Since you see no obvious fluid on the ground, next I would inspect the rack for leaks inside the boots. I've pulled one off before where the fluid poured out of the boot when it was removed.

HTH.

Doug

.
Next time I have a look at the car I'll see if I can't check the boots. Hopefully it's not a difficult job.

Should I make sure I take care of this timely? The noise is annoying but it doesn't really cause any problems other than a little noise pollution.

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I should have mentioned it also sometimes whines with the same pitch when I brake at stop signs, indicating to me that it's probably the same issue.

But if I thought it might be the brakes, would that really make any sense? Because I don't always brake before turning left, and this noise always happens when turning left.

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 11:18 PM
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Have you ruled out the power steering pump as the issue? And what's the condition of the fluid? Shine a light in there and see how much metal is at the bottom of the reservoir. If your light can't even cut through the fluid, it might be worth changing it. You can always suck out the fluid from the reservoir, refill it with new fluid, and repeat the process a couple times after having driven for a few days or less in between. This way, you don't have to pull hoses or anything, but at least the majority of the fluid will be new.

But since the whining only happens when turning left, I'll have to agree with Doug that it's most likely the rack. Learn from me and change the fluid now before the rack starts acting up and actually needs replacing. You might be lucky and get away with just that.

Aside from steering components, I can't think of anything else that would whine when turning. How does your car sound when turning the wheels when not moving? And is it difficult? Try raising the front wheels off the ground and with the engine off, turn the wheels. If you can easily do it with one finger, it might not be the rack. Usually, the rack stiffens up and you have to put in a bit of effort to turn the wheel.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 05-14-2017, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IIDeMoNII View Post
Have you ruled out the power steering pump as the issue? And what's the condition of the fluid? Shine a light in there and see how much metal is at the bottom of the reservoir. If your light can't even cut through the fluid, it might be worth changing it. You can always suck out the fluid from the reservoir, refill it with new fluid, and repeat the process a couple times after having driven for a few days or less in between. This way, you don't have to pull hoses or anything, but at least the majority of the fluid will be new.

But since the whining only happens when turning left, I'll have to agree with Doug that it's most likely the rack. Learn from me and change the fluid now before the rack starts acting up and actually needs replacing. You might be lucky and get away with just that.

Aside from steering components, I can't think of anything else that would whine when turning. How does your car sound when turning the wheels when not moving? And is it difficult? Try raising the front wheels off the ground and with the engine off, turn the wheels. If you can easily do it with one finger, it might not be the rack. Usually, the rack stiffens up and you have to put in a bit of effort to turn the wheel.
I haven't ruled it out at all, I just assumed that the pump was a likely culprit. I topped off the fluid when I noticed the noise, but I didn't try the flashlight test.

How much fluid does the pump take? I think I have at least half a liter if not more.

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