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1999 Ram Van - power steering just quit

06-23-2008, 07:08 PM
I have a 1999 Ram 3500 van. We don't drive it much, but it was on a short trip just recently and all was OK. My wife took it on a camping trip today and called to say the power steering just quit. She checked the serpentine drive belt, and the PS fluid level is OK. Also no visible oil leaks. It's drivable with a mighty arm, but no fun. Any ideas? They didn't make the power steering computer controlled too did they?

06-23-2008, 07:57 PM
Probably popped a seal inside the steering gear box.

06-23-2008, 10:13 PM
Are those seals replaceable or is it normal to replace the steering gear box? It only has 54,000 miles on it.

06-23-2008, 11:46 PM
You'd have to disassemble the entire gear box and do a rebuild on it. Most just replace the gear box instead of dealing with the hassle of rebuilding it.

06-24-2008, 09:52 AM
After a little more research, I'm advised that most P/S failures may be caused by contamination from hose deterioration. If so this is so, a particle could be lodged in the pump pressure relief valve causing continuous fluid bypass and little or no pressutre to the steering gear. Probably as likely, a particle could be lodged in the valve unit of the steering gear with the same effect. A rebuilt pump is around $60.00 and a rebuilt steering gear is about $275.00. In any case if I replace either component, I also have to replace hoses and flush the remainder of the system. I'm wondering how this is usually done?

06-24-2008, 02:01 PM
Maybe you should try flushing before you replace it. Might fix it.

06-24-2008, 02:06 PM
BTW , you flush it by removing the return line from the pump and pluging the connection at the pump. Have someone slowly pour a quart of new fluid into the pump to keep it full , while its running, while you hold the hose in a container.Turn the wheel left to right but not all the way to lock.

07-02-2008, 03:42 PM
I flushed it according to earlier instructions, using over a quart of new fluid. No change. In fact fluid only flowed out the return line when the steering wheel was turned. Upon removal of the drive belt, discovered the pump shaft was broken off inside the pump. I could pull it right out of the front. It must have jammed on something inside. So I replaced the pump and flushed another quart of fluid through the system to be sure the steering gear was cleaned out. Then it worked fine - until I cranked the steering wheel all the way to one side. Then apparently the pump jammed again since I heard the belt slipping and the power assist was lost temporarily. Then it came back, but now there is an awful noise especially when I turn the wheel at all. The pump is probably damaged. I'm guessing I need a new pump again ($75) and a rebuilt steering gear ($300). All because, I'm guessing, something in the steering gear is falling off and circulating through the pump. I heard some power steering systems use a filter, which could save the pump in cases like this. Anybody know how I'd add this?

07-02-2008, 09:25 PM
There's an outside chance that you just got a bad pump, especially if it's a rebuilt one instead of a new one.

Most auto parts stores have an add-on PS filter that goes in the return line.

07-25-2008, 08:57 AM
Alloro, I think you're right about getting a bad P/S pump - it WAS a rebuilt one. It seems to be working well except for the scary noise it makes when I crank the wheel all the way. So I bought a filter ($2.50) and put it in the return line so nothing will get back to the pump except fluid. That didn't fix the noise, but will protect the pump so I can drive it without worry for now. Now I have to change out the pump again and see if the parts store really honors their lifetime warranty.

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