Main IndexAuto Repair Home Search Posts SEARCH
Who's Online WHO'S
Log in LOG

Possibly bad power steering unit ?

Search for (search options)


Apr 10, 2021, 2:55 AM

Post #1 of 6 (1262 views)
Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

1996 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L

Would like an opinion from you pro's before I start throwing money at this problem.

A few weeks ago we had very cold weather here in Texas. I Went outside and attempted to start truck but battery was low so I charged it and then attempted to start truck. When I did the fan/power steering belt snapped as soon as I turned the key on. I bought a new belt and replaced it. Now here is the issue I am having. Since replacing that belt, when I drive the truck every once in a while I will be going down the road just fine and then all of a sudden the steering wheel will start shaking back and forth from side to side really bad for no reason. It happens sometimes going perfectly straight and sometimes around corners. There is no certain time it happens. I drove the truck yesterday for about 15 miles and it did it 5 or 6 times over the course of the trip. When the truck is not shaking the steering is absolutely fine no shakes, seems tight and I could even let go of the steering wheel and it would stay going perfectly straight ( I don't do this so don't flame me). This is not a balance or alignment issue it has to do with the power steering. The power steering fluid level is perfect.

My (unprofessional) best guess is that possibly moisture or condensation had gotten into the power steer unit and when it got cold it froze up and when I started the truck something inside the power steering unit broke, causing the unit to bind and break the belt and this is causing the intermittent steering issue.

Has anyone seen an issue like this. My thought is to replace the power steering unit completely (but is that the problem here?) I hate to waste the money on a new one and then that not be my issue. ANY thoughts would be great - I have never seen anything like this before - Thanks in advance for any help - I need this truck up and running asap

(This post was edited by Rael on Apr 10, 2021, 3:03 AM)

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Apr 10, 2021, 3:48 AM

Post #2 of 6 (1233 views)
Re: Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

That is an unusual symptom. The only time I ever saw power steering do that is when the hoses were installed backwards after a repair but never on it's own.

Your idea about moisture freezing is a possibility. That's why I would probably start out by flushing and replacing the fluid before changing any parts. It can't hurt.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Apr 10, 2021, 4:06 AM

Post #3 of 6 (1229 views)
Re: Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

Agree, change fluid I suggest w synthetic. Moisture because of extreme weather (world news) didn't just get there from snow or cold it was there if so. TEXAS - all climates just not the real zero F. point that I ever knew of. Nothing likes that I do live where it's expected the problems show up.
Those low temps for an extended time or to a vehicle that NEVER sees that shocks the heck out of them. Busting a belt kinda means it needed a good one anyway and moderate weather if for many years it survived. The pieces of belt flying around could have caused damage - look for that.
This thing self steering I've seen once OMG a 1965 something doesn't matter now. I blame that on a gearbox not the pump if that's what you think you'd just toss?
Try the fluid and look for what may have been damaged anything to do with PS lines and all. It's intermittent so naturally going to be a pest to be sure unless it stays constant,



Apr 10, 2021, 4:29 AM

Post #4 of 6 (1222 views)
Re: Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

Thank you for the quick reply - I will try changing that today and see what happens - I will update the post one I know


Apr 10, 2021, 4:31 AM

Post #5 of 6 (1219 views)
Re: Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

Yes I will do that - I moved here from Western New York so I am use to weather issues but the truck was from Texas and has never seen weather like that before so it is throwing a hissy fit and pouting LOL Thanks for the reply - I will update with the results.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Apr 10, 2021, 5:41 AM

Post #6 of 6 (1204 views)
Re: Possibly bad power steering unit ? Sign In

It's real. Rubber anything doesn't bend well. Oils anything isn't lubing yet or hydraulics slow. If from UP-State NY that's my climate extremes OMG the road calls used to come in 1st cold or 1st HOT day of a season. Snow not the issue the ice or melt + refreeze is you know that.
Belt rubber? Just put a rubber band in your freezer and take it out and stretch it. Snap even new ones. Tires - all things stressed. Think, drag racing tires warms them up if just cool don't stick to surfaces for traction as well.
Answer for you is still IDK it won't repeat itself is why I said look for belt when busted if it trashed any PS lines or parts? The fluid. This used vehicle if in the Eastern 1/4 was wildly flooded some years back - there's the wet might invade despite PS caps shouldn't allow it. Back to IDK for now,



Search for (options) Privacy Sitemap