By December 18, 20060 Comments Read More →

1997 Toyota Corolla Power Steering Not Working Right?

Reader Question 1987 Toyota Corolla hatchback ~85,000 miles (I am original owner, so I know history of car). Power steering went bad about a year ago, had the rack/pinion and pump replaced. Steering was on and off for the 6-month warranty period, then got progressively worse, so that last month it made noise on every turn of the steering wheel.

It did not make any noise going straight ahead, just on the turns. Also noticed a few drops under the car (power steering fluid). Brought it to another repair shop and they replaced the hose, said it did not need a new pump. Charged $145 for the hose, and 2 hours labor to replace the hose. Altogether $265, plus tax.

When I drove the car away, however, it now made a constant whirring noise – going straight ahead, without even turning. This noise was NOT present when I brought it in. Brought it back to the shop, who now said they had to replace the power steering pump and wanted to charge $235 more. Somehow I felt like I was being taken for a ride (no pun intended).

Hey there,

It sure does sound like you have been taken for a ride! You want my opinion…get a third opinion. I can’t believe a shop would replace the rack and pinion AND the pump and NOT install new hoses when they had the pump in there hands!! They did not have your best interest at heart.

The second shop should have test driven the vehicle after the hose installation and should have heard the noise you now have. Replacing the hose on this pump is not that terribly hard to do and don’t really see how they would have over looked the culprit of the noise…unless they are idiots or THEY induced the noise with faulty installation or they broke something else during the process.

So, before you spend any more money on this issue find ANOTHER repair shop or the dealer and have someone else take a listen to the noise with you. Most reputable shops will take a test drive with you and give you there opinion free of charge, and that is what you need to make your decision making process easier.

On a side note, if you don’t know how to check the power steering fluid…have someone do it for you. If the pump is low on fluid it will make that whining noise when you turn. If the pump is very low it can be hard to turn the steering wheel…and the pump could make noise while driving in a straight line like you mentioned.

There are a few additives on the market at your local auto part store that will help quiet a noisy pump. If you get a third opinion and they think the pump is the problem you might want to suck out as much of the fluid out of the pump with a turkey baster as you can and add the additive and drive a few 100 miles and see if that helps. Noisy rebuilt power steering pumps (like what you were probably sold) are not that uncommon and sometimes will last years if kept full of fluid.


Austin Davis

Posted in: Reader Questions

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