Power steering stiff/inop in cold weather



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Thread: Power steering stiff/inop in cold weather

  1. #1
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    Power steering stiff/inop in cold weather

    Hey guys, I have a 2002 grand caravan with 160000miles on it. When the car is cold, in cold weather (under 40 degrees) the power steering is stiff/doesnt work well at all. When the car warms up a few minutes it works fine. Is there any type of additive I can add to the fluid to help in this problem? (long term, I plan to replace the rack and pinion, but I can't do it right now) Any suggestions?

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  3. #2
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    Same problem for about two years , no solution. Very hard left turn, feels like there is some restriction somewhere. When more force applied the sound "thumb" occures and than turns easy. No leak in the stiring system, new steering fliud and reservuar, no remedy. Mayby someone will post an answer...Sorry for not helping, just letting you know that you are not alone.
    2003 GC Sport 172 kmi, 3.3L FLEX
    1999 Toyota Camry LE, 116kmi, 4 cyl 2.2L

  4. #3
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    Sounds like the "morning sickness" problem that the 80's GM cars would get. The problem is in the steering rack. It is aluminum and gets worn where there are pressure seals rotating. When cold, fluid bypasses the pressure seals through the worn area (loss of power steering) until the rack warms up, aluminum expands and the seals can actually seal. The fix is, of course, replacing the rack.
    DAN(husband of member STEPHANIE)

    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited - Dark Charcoal Metallic with chrome trim, taupe leather interior, loaded. In need of rust repair on rockers and liftgate. Now enjoying the new family mommy-mobile!

    Knowledge can never be wisdom without experience.
    "Your experience is a commodity."
    "Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor."
    DRIVE = LOVE

  5. #4
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    It sounds to me like a normal situation involving the thickening of transmission fluid when it gets cold, like pumping syrup instead of coke. I have always just gone slower for the first 5 minutes of driving, avoiding jack-rabbit starts and slowly letting the warming engine increase the speed, where possible. The transmission and oil pump are going through the same agony, but the oil filter has a relief valve is the pressure is too much it can bypass the oil filter till the oil thins. You may find letting your engine warm up just a couple of minutes and rocking the steering from side to side a couple of times may speed up responsiveness, but it sounds like it is really no problem, especially if you don't have any leaks. As for an additive, I put a qt. of Lucas in mine a couple of years ago when I had a slight leak, and it has worked well. I also now always leave the wheels pointed completely straight when I park it. No more leaks, and I have not noticed any great difficulty in turning in cold weather, but it will always be a bit stiffer. I am not sure with your year whether you use ATF or PS fluid. I would use whatever it states. If it is dark looking you can get a piece of clear hose or a pump and pump out the fluid and replace it three or four times and that will replace most of it. Put some in, let it run and mix up, do it again for a few days, if you want to put an additive in, I am sure someone from the frozen north has a good idea on that. Hope it works out.
    2005 T&C Ltd 3.8 69k
    2000 Caravan 2.4l
    1990 Grand Caravan 3.3 149,000 owned 15yrs 4 trannies
    1990 Dynasty 3.0 120k 1 tranny 4yrs
    1981 Dodge Aries 2.6 only new car I ever bought 225k orig 11yrs
    1966 Dodge Coronet 440 Wagon, way old 1 yr. 135$ (Had to borrow it at the bank!)
    1964 Simca 1000 (bought for $10 rebored) 50k 4yrs
    1965 Ply Valiant V8 85k
    1964 Ply Valiant Wagon slant 6 200k 1 qt/200 miles
    1969 Corvair convertible 4 carb

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    I recently sucked out and refilled the power steering as a flush and fill to recondition the fluid. You could use a good turkey baster (you don't want it to leak on the engine or the paint) and keep track of the amount you pull out of the reservoir ( I used a 16 oz soda bottle ). Then refill using atf+4 transmission fluid (not any ol power steering fluid) But fill it with the van running and turning the wheels left and right. Drive it a while/days and refill as needed. This has helped with that same hard turn in the morning problem.

  7. #6
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    Just a note regarding all Chrysler power steering units. Look at the cap, if not there, look in the book. At some point, and I don't know when, Chrysler went from "power steering fluid" to ATF. You were always warned during the PS fluid days that addition of ATF would damage the rubber parts. After that point, ATF is the only product that should be used. Lucas PS additive advertises that it is safe with all fluids, but I can't vouch for that. But follow the direction of the manufacturer for your model.
    2005 T&C Ltd 3.8 69k
    2000 Caravan 2.4l
    1990 Grand Caravan 3.3 149,000 owned 15yrs 4 trannies
    1990 Dynasty 3.0 120k 1 tranny 4yrs
    1981 Dodge Aries 2.6 only new car I ever bought 225k orig 11yrs
    1966 Dodge Coronet 440 Wagon, way old 1 yr. 135$ (Had to borrow it at the bank!)
    1964 Simca 1000 (bought for $10 rebored) 50k 4yrs
    1965 Ply Valiant V8 85k
    1964 Ply Valiant Wagon slant 6 200k 1 qt/200 miles
    1969 Corvair convertible 4 carb

  8. #7
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    I put ATF+4 fluid in the power steering system of our 2000 when I replaced the pump. No problems since. I thought I read a TSB that recommended changing the power steering fluid to ATF+4 in 3rd gen vans, so that's why I changed it. I removed and completely cleaned the remote reservoir out. There was black gunk at the bottom! There was no fine screen in the reservoir, like the 4th gen vans have.

    The problem I see with sucking fluid out of the reservoir and replacing it, is the new fluid won't make it down to circulate into the system. The return line from the steering rack goes to the pump, not the reservoir. It just circulates the same old fluid, until the system gets low enough to draw more fluid from the reservoir. The only way to get a lot of the old fluid out is to pull the drain plug on the reservoir of the power steering pump. It is a flat bolt on the back of the pump itself, near the bottom.
    DAN(husband of member STEPHANIE)

    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited - Dark Charcoal Metallic with chrome trim, taupe leather interior, loaded. In need of rust repair on rockers and liftgate. Now enjoying the new family mommy-mobile!

    Knowledge can never be wisdom without experience.
    "Your experience is a commodity."
    "Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor."
    DRIVE = LOVE

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  10. #8
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    Unless there is some problem, I believe my 05 does circulate the fluid to the res. When you rev the engine with the lid off you can see it swirling at a fast pace and it gets hot. I changed my fluid out several times using the res suck out and replace and it seems to have worked fine. Didn't know about the bolt.
    2005 T&C Ltd 3.8 69k
    2000 Caravan 2.4l
    1990 Grand Caravan 3.3 149,000 owned 15yrs 4 trannies
    1990 Dynasty 3.0 120k 1 tranny 4yrs
    1981 Dodge Aries 2.6 only new car I ever bought 225k orig 11yrs
    1966 Dodge Coronet 440 Wagon, way old 1 yr. 135$ (Had to borrow it at the bank!)
    1964 Simca 1000 (bought for $10 rebored) 50k 4yrs
    1965 Ply Valiant V8 85k
    1964 Ply Valiant Wagon slant 6 200k 1 qt/200 miles
    1969 Corvair convertible 4 carb

  11. #9
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    My 2005 T&C rack started leaking about 18 months ago, pretty bad leak. I put maybe 1-2 cups of some Lucas PS additive and it totally cured the leaking seal. But now I still have the cold morning steering stiffness.
    Also this week I cranked the thing to find the pump was not working at ALL. It did start back after running about 2 minutes. I have to wonder if the Lucas had damaged the pump.
    I am going to get the rack replaced and then put the correct ATF fluid in and see how long the pump lasts.
    Orellis is the cheapest I have found, $ 163 including inner tie rods. (Reman)
    Naps is $224 reman.
    Moparpartz.com is $268.8 for a new OEM rack that has a MSRP of $384
    2005 T&C Limited-105K, 99 Volvo S70-220K, 01 Accord EX-153K, 94 Volvo 940-316K, 99 Avalon 156K

  12. #10
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    I don't understand the pump not working at all, you mean it is turning but not making anything happen? May need both.
    2005 T&C Ltd 3.8 69k
    2000 Caravan 2.4l
    1990 Grand Caravan 3.3 149,000 owned 15yrs 4 trannies
    1990 Dynasty 3.0 120k 1 tranny 4yrs
    1981 Dodge Aries 2.6 only new car I ever bought 225k orig 11yrs
    1966 Dodge Coronet 440 Wagon, way old 1 yr. 135$ (Had to borrow it at the bank!)
    1964 Simca 1000 (bought for $10 rebored) 50k 4yrs
    1965 Ply Valiant V8 85k
    1964 Ply Valiant Wagon slant 6 200k 1 qt/200 miles
    1969 Corvair convertible 4 carb

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