Page updated on 06-22-2018

Extreme stiff steering, BMW 323CI

04-18-2006, 07:49 AM

I have a power steering problem with my car which I do not understand. Would someone please let me know what went wrong.

What happened was the car was perfectly normal after I came home from work. Approximately an hour later, I started the car, and It was almost impposible to move the steering wheel. It was as if power steering was not working at all. I drove around my neighborhood at various speed and the steering was still very stiff. The max. turnning angle that I could make with two hands was probably at most 40 degrees.

Please let me know what possibly went wrong quickly like that, in an hour timeframe. Thank you.

04-18-2006, 03:30 PM
Sounds as if you have no power assist.

1. Is the sytem full of fluid?
2. Is the belt still on the pump and tight?
3. Did the pump pulley bearing freeze up and quit working?

I would start here and let us know what you find.

04-18-2006, 08:34 PM
Thank you for your reply.

I checked the steering fluid reservoir, it is still full. Checked the belt also, everything seemed to run fine.

Except one thing, the reservior to the left of the power steering fluid seemed to be damped. I turned the engine on and noticed that some kind of fluid was dripping out of that reservior (reference attached picture). Do you have any idea what is that reservior for? Is it normal for fluid to leak out from it? thank you.


04-18-2006, 09:13 PM
Picture did not come through. I assume a 2000 323ci and all that I can think of is the oil filter reservoir and the power steering reservoir are in the engine compartment. Try and repost the picture.

04-18-2006, 10:32 PM
here is the picture.

You're right, I just found out from reading other threads that the leaking reservoir was the oil filter. I tightenned it and it no longer leaks.

Back to the Power Steering problem:

Bear, I checked almost everything you advised. Except number 3) Did the pump pulley bearing freeze up and quit working?

I looked carefully at the PS pump, its shaft was spinning fine. Are you saying that the pump could not be working? Is there an easy way to test out if the pump is working, without inspecting the bearing? Thank you.

04-19-2006, 06:57 AM
I do not know of anyway to check pump without gauges (pressure check). Befre you go that route, try this: start car and then take lid off of power steering reservoir, get in car and turn steering wheel left and right (lock to lock) two or three times (air bleed), put cap back on reservoir. This may not help, but it is cheap. Sounds to me as if the power steering pump has failed and pulley is free wheeling and disconnected from the pump mechanism.

04-19-2006, 07:02 AM
Go to and click on your series car and then search power steering. A lot of good data here and also a few whose pumps failed right after enigne shutdown (no warning).

08-14-2009, 03:37 PM
Anzblood - did you ever get the problem fixed? I am having the exact same problem and nothing that I try seems to help. I would appreciate any advice that you could give me.

A couple of days ago I got in my car after being at the grocery store and could barely back out of the parking space the steering was so stiff. I somehow was able to make it home but could only turn the wheel 40 degrees or so as well. My power steering resivoir is full and the belt seems to be spinning fine as well. People have suggested that it may be the steering rack that has failed?

08-15-2009, 11:50 AM
Do not panic,

it would cost you about $300 to fix it. All you need to do is buy a new power steering pump, i bought my at Napa, i dont think anywhere else carries the pump, and replace the bump from the bottom of your car. The job was quite simple, it would take around 40 mins for a beginer. Remember to ready and flush your power steering fluid and plugs in the tubes when you replace the pump to keep the lines from contamination.

also, my bmw power steering pump died at 90K miles, i think its normal for it to die!

Add your comment to this topic!