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Old 06-01-2006, 01:22 PM   #1
chris2450
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1997 SL1
Default Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

I'm new and was told to put this under the S-series sub forum so here it is. Thanks

My son bought a 97 SL1 from a Saturn employee and it was perfect. Had an accident 6 mos later so he wanted another one. Bought it. It looked in great shape. Owner was mechanic (pontiac). After about 3 mos this new one started having problems starting (turning over), there is a noise under the gas pedal, the power steering goes intermittently and the alternator went.


Saturn of Binghamton NY told him that the noise was due to ABS or traction control, can't remember. The trouble starting had been reported by former owner...they thought it was really just something sticking and to 'see how it goes'.

Then the power steering seemed to go out, but not all the time. He doesn't drive it every day but maybe twice or three times per week.

Two weeks ago it died on him and it was clear to me and his dad that it wasn't a battery that he was driving on the battery. Sure enough they put in a new alternator. At the time, they looked at the battery, the belts and everything because he mentioned the noise again and the intermittent problem with the power steering.

After they put in the new alternator, there was no problem with the power steering until two days ago when he said it went out again. We dropped it to the dealership this morning and when they called me, they told me the power steering was working fine.

Does anyone have a clue? There is no leak. we will check the fluid to see if it is clear but other than that, has anyone heard of this type of challenge.

My son loves the car and the service people have been great, but it is kind of hard to driver with no power steering.

thanks

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Old 06-01-2006, 02:05 PM   #2
bryank930
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2007 ION-3 Quad Coupe
1999 SL2
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Sounds like something with the belt. What condition is the tensioner in?? How about the belt itself??

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Old 06-01-2006, 02:58 PM   #3
chris2450
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

I just got a call from the service department. The tensioner is fine, the belts are great, etc etc. The fluid is dark and I told them about it and he said it may be old but he really doesn't believe this is the problem. The only thing they found is the coolant sensor was bad and they are replacing it. I don't understand that because it was allowed to run for about 1/2 hour two weeks ago and they never said anything about over heating nor did my son see any indication. This man was adamant that it over heated and that was the only thing they could find wrong with the car.

They are as baffled as we are. All they could say was if it happens again, to note as much of when where and what as he could and bring it in.

According to my son, it can happen one day and not the next, it can start out fine and begin to go while he is driving. But there is nothing specific to latch onto.

No one has mentioned a power steering motor...is there such a thing?

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Old 06-01-2006, 03:05 PM   #4
Uzzy
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2002 SC1
2005 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris2450
No one has mentioned a power steering motor...is there such a thing?
Sure I did. Well pump, in the S-series. The IONs and VUEs have power steering motors. They have electric power steering boosters, not conventional belt driven ones.

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If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire Uzzy.

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Old 06-01-2006, 03:23 PM   #5
eljefino
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1995 SW1
2000 SL1
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

If your power steering goes out take a quick look at the dash to see if the battery light is on. You can have an intermittent problem with the belt tensioner where it will test fine later. If the light is on (and you hear squealing) the belt isn't turning the alternator, water pump, or PS pump. Don't drive like this more than a minute as the water pump is very necessary.

You can also have them preventatively replace the tensioner and belt. As a saturn shop they know the things go bad and shouldn't argue the point too much.

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Old 06-01-2006, 03:37 PM   #6
chris2450
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uzzy
Sure I did. Well pump, in the S-series. The IONs and VUEs have power steering motors. They have electric power steering boosters, not conventional belt driven ones.
Thanks. I didn't put the two things together. That is why I was getting confused between the Water pump and the PS pump.

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Old 06-01-2006, 03:39 PM   #7
chris2450
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino
If your power steering goes out take a quick look at the dash to see if the battery light is on. You can have an intermittent problem with the belt tensioner where it will test fine later. If the light is on (and you hear squealing) the belt isn't turning the alternator, water pump, or PS pump. Don't drive like this more than a minute as the water pump is very necessary.

You can also have them preventatively replace the tensioner and belt. As a saturn shop they know the things go bad and shouldn't argue the point too much.
Is this something the dealer needs to do? I am going to bring it up. I hate going in not having any idea of the cost I should expect.

Thanks

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Old 06-03-2006, 06:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Some years back my Ex was shopping for a cheap old car. Found a 1989 Grand Am from a curbsider. The power assist would cut in and out, especially when the car was cold. It sometimes caused the interior lights to dim.

It was one reason a couple of mechanics wouldn't certify it. I found a guy who did certify it - he said it was "a coroding steering rack" - he maintained the worse that could happen was a permanent loss of power assistance - no way to predict if it would go in two months or two years.

We were in no hurry to pay for a fix as we had both driven cars without power steering ('80's Tercel, MR2 & Fiero) and the Grand Am wasn't too heavy. If power assist croaked, we'd just do without it for a fw months.

It turned out the power steering soon worked itself back into operation with regular driving and only ocassionally blinked when parking out after a couple of days off. She traded the car away one year later.

I don't know if that diagnosis was correct or if the scenario could apply to a Saturn or any car of more recent design.

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Old 06-03-2006, 08:30 AM   #9
chris2450
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Power Steering goes in and out with no apparent reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by CND_SC1
Some years back my Ex was shopping for a cheap old car. Found a 1989 Grand Am from a curbsider. The power assist would cut in and out, especially when the car was cold. It sometimes caused the interior lights to dim.

It was one reason a couple of mechanics wouldn't certify it. I found a guy who did certify it - he said it was "a coroding steering rack" - he maintained the worse that could happen was a permanent loss of power assistance - no way to predict if it would go in two months or two years.

We were in no hurry to pay for a fix as we had both driven cars without power steering ('80's Tercel, MR2 & Fiero) and the Grand Am wasn't too heavy. If power assist croaked, we'd just do without it for a fw months.

It turned out the power steering soon worked itself back into operation with regular driving and only ocassionally blinked when parking out after a couple of days off. She traded the car away one year later.

I don't know if that diagnosis was correct or if the scenario could apply to a Saturn or any car of more recent design.

Thanks.

If I believe the dealer, it could very well be the rack. He didn't want to 'throw parts at it' as he put it because it could be the tensioner and belt but it could also be 'the ps pump or the rack'. The only way they can figure it out is for us to bring it in when the problem is happening. My son is going to an actor's "boot camp" for two weeks and I will drive the car which means I can bring it in when it is going or gone.

I've driven cars without ps he hasn't but he is getting used to it.

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