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  1. #1
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Unhappy HELP: STIFF steering after power steering pump and rack and pinion replacement

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    I got my power steering pump and rack and pinion replaced as per my mechanic's recommendation.

    First pump was returned because it failed right away. The reman shop said they found dirt inside when they disassembled it upon receiving.)
    Second pump went in and worked much better right off the bat... However,

    Now there's no groaning or squealing noise coming from the steering but the power steering is much stiffer compared to before the repair.

    Also, it doesn't seem to self-center when I let go of the steering wheel...?

    The system to my knowledge was bled properly and fluid topped off but what would cause it to malfunction like this?

    (The severity of the stiffness is such that when parallel parking, it almost feels like the steering pump is pushing the wheel back.)

    Could I have a faulty rack and pinion?

    Is it case of more dirt in the power steering pump?

    Has anyone lived through this type of ordeal and can share with me their story?
    Last edited by DannYook; 05-01-2012 at 08:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Four Rings rollerton's Avatar
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    Most places that install a rack require that the all the lines be flushed of fluid before you hook them up to the new rack- if your NEW pump had contamination in it right away it's possible it was in your system from before and circulated through the rack/ lines to the new pump and caused your problems again. If you rev the engine a little when the car is stationary does the steering start to get easier? if so it's probably the pump even though there's no noise.
    Typically groaning noise means the rack is struggling and squealing means the pump has a problem.
    Have someone raise the engine RPM's while you look inside the PS fluid reservoir, you should see the circulation starting at or just above idle speed- if the engine is revv'd sharply and held for a couple seconds you should see sharp increase in fluid flowing, and a few little bubbles just from the fluid movement. If not then the pump isn't working.
    foley803 : What does an electrical surge sound like? Barking dogs? Watermelons?

  3. #3
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by rollerton View Post
    If you rev the engine a little when the car is stationary does the steering start to get easier? if so it's probably the pump even though there's no noise.
    Yes. I notice it the most when I'm parallel parking. Higher speeds, I barely notice the stiffness.

    Quote Originally Posted by rollerton View Post
    Have someone raise the engine RPM's while you look inside the PS fluid reservoir, you should see the circulation starting at or just above idle speed- if the engine is revv'd sharply and held for a couple seconds you should see sharp increase in fluid flowing, and a few little bubbles just from the fluid movement. If not then the pump isn't working.
    When you say "circulation" of fluids, are you saying that I should see visible movement inside the reservoir? 'Cuz I checked the reservoir for fluid level and saw it very stagnant at different RPMs.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Four Rings rollerton's Avatar
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    Sounds like the pump to me. I had the EXACT same situation on the last A6 I sold last fall. The pump had a tiny tiny crack inside and couldn't hold pressure at low RPM, but there was zero noise at all. At just above idle (1500rpm) the steering was great, but would totally go away at just around idle. The pump is ALWAYS moving fluid, I eventually broke down and hooked the inlet and outlets at the reservoir to two different containers and I saw that there was ZERO flow at idle, which obviously wasn't good- the 'supply' container fluid level would drop a little then go back up, the fluid level would only properly drop when the pump really started to work above 1500rpm.
    There's also a servo in the rack, but if you scan the car for errors you should have some kind of 'servotronic' something or other code if there's a problem with it,...possible there's something fouled up with it. There's a relay for it and a fuse, something to check?
    foley803 : What does an electrical surge sound like? Barking dogs? Watermelons?

  5. #5
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by rollerton View Post
    Sounds like the pump to me. I had the EXACT same situation on the last A6 I sold last fall. The pump had a tiny tiny crack inside and couldn't hold pressure at low RPM, but there was zero noise at all. At just above idle (1500rpm) the steering was great, but would totally go away at just around idle. The pump is ALWAYS moving fluid, I eventually broke down and hooked the inlet and outlets at the reservoir to two different containers and I saw that there was ZERO flow at idle, which obviously wasn't good- the 'supply' container fluid level would drop a little then go back up, the fluid level would only properly drop when the pump really started to work above 1500rpm.
    There's also a servo in the rack, but if you scan the car for errors you should have some kind of 'servotronic' something or other code if there's a problem with it,...possible there's something fouled up with it. There's a relay for it and a fuse, something to check?
    Thanks for your help. Sounds like you went through what I'm going through now. Good thing the pump is under warranty and I can just get it replaced. I hope they don't give me a hard time for returning yet another pump. Wish me luck! :)

  6. #6
    Veteran Member Four Rings diagnosticator's Avatar
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    The rack has an adjuster for free-play that is probably set a little to tight. At an empty paved parking lot, loosen the adjustment a little, then drive slowly starting out with the steering at full lock left or right, then let go of the steering wheel. The adjustment is correct when you release the steering wheel the steering will self center and the car's direction straightens out on it's own. Repeat the above procedure until the steering responds correctly. The adjustment needs to be as tight as possible, while still allowing for the self centering action to occur. If you loosen the adjustment to much, there will be excessive free play in the steering wheel.
    Last edited by diagnosticator; 05-01-2012 at 08:14 PM.
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  7. #7
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by diagnosticator View Post
    The rack has an adjuster for free-play that is probably set a little to tight. Loosen the adjustment and drive slowly somewhere that is paved and open like an empty parking lot. The adjustment is correct when you release the steering wheel while moving slowly at both right and left full lock, the steering will self center and the cars direction straightens out. The adjustment needs to be as tight as possible, while still allowing for the self centering action to occur.
    You just mentioned another symptom I forgot to mention. After the replacement, my steering doesn't self-center. It just kinda stays where I left off unless I'm moving forward. The forward movement will then straighten the wheel. Where is this said "adjuster for free-play" on the rack? Is it easy to get to?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Four Rings rollerton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diagnosticator View Post
    The rack has an adjuster for free-play that is probably set a little to tight. .
    Yeah! Whats up with that? I didn't know there was an adjustment built in to the rack, I thought the tolerances would've been done at the factory and not 'adjustable' -- big huge nut/ allen socket thing? I assume it's all-but-impossible to adjust with the rack installed. Audi would do that.
    foley803 : What does an electrical surge sound like? Barking dogs? Watermelons?

  9. #9
    Veteran Member Four Rings diagnosticator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannYook View Post
    You just mentioned another symptom I forgot to mention. After the replacement, my steering doesn't self-center. It just kinda stays where I left off unless I'm moving forward. The forward movement will then straighten the wheel. Where is this said "adjuster for free-play" on the rack? Is it easy to get to?
    The self centering must occur when moving slowly, less than ~5 mph. Depending on the specific excessive tightness of the rack, the steering will tend to self center, but then stop rotating toward the straight ahead direction to early, with the self centering incomplete. The adjuster is a large hex lock nut with a smaller hex socket inside. It is located on top of the rack, near the rack pinion gear/input shaft from the steering wheel. "easy to get to" is a relative term here, but it is not difficult, you just have to reach down to it in the engine bay.

    The car must be rolling forward for the steering self centering action to occur. Self centering will not happen with the car stopped.
    Vorsprung durch Technik

  10. #10
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by diagnosticator View Post
    The self centering must occur when moving slowly, less than ~5 mph. Depending on the specific excessive tightness of the rack, the steering will tend to self center, but then stop rotating toward the straight ahead direction to early, with the self centering incomplete. The adjuster is a large hex lock nut with a smaller hex socket inside. It is located on top of the rack, near the rack pinion gear/input shaft from the steering wheel. "easy to get to" is a relative term here, but it is not difficult, you just have to reach down to it in the engine bay.

    The car must be rolling forward for the steering self centering action to occur. Self centering will not happen with the car stopped.
    I will check on these things today and update. Thanks for your input guys!

  11. #11
    Active Member Two Rings
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    UPDATE:

    Checked the pump by looking for flow in the reservoir. There is quite a healthy flow in the reservoir. The pump is good...

    Now I notice that the power assist is more noticeable when the engine is cold. After driving around for awhile the assistance goes away. I notice steering getting stiffer at low RPM (Read: idling with car in gear). Apply some gas and power steering comes back.

    Have not been able to adjust the nut on the rack. That's next. How much should I turn? Quarter of a turn? 10 degrees? Is there an indicator I should look for as I make the adjustment? (Noise, feel?)

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    Veteran Member Four Rings diagnosticator's Avatar
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    1/4 turn is good to start. If the steering does not loosen up with 1/4 turn looser of the adjuster screw, loosen 1/4 turn at a time until the rack frees up. Remember that if the adjuster is loosened to far, the steering wheel will have to much free play.
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  13. #13
    Veteran Member Four Rings Peacob's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm.... and i've always wanted my car to have stiffer steering. One thing i've always liked about the 3 series is their steering implementation.
    -Brian

  14. #14
    Veteran Member Four Rings diagnosticator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peacob View Post
    Hmmmmm.... and i've always wanted my car to have stiffer steering. One thing i've always liked about the 3 series is their steering implementation.
    There is a difference between steering ratio and assist factor, compared to an excessivley tight rack adjustment. The two different situations are not the same in effect.
    Vorsprung durch Technik

  15. #15
    Veteran Member Four Rings Peacob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diagnosticator View Post
    There is a difference between steering ratio and assist factor, compared to an excessivley tight rack adjustment. The two different situations are not the same in effect.
    Yeah i understand, was mostly being sarcastic in that i wouldnt mind a tighter steering effect
    -Brian

  16. #16
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Update:

    Since my last post, I've been dealing with a blown water pump issue leading to a timing belt job. With that said, my mechanic is reluctant to make any adjustments on the self-centering adjuster. He'd rather flush fluids or even change out the pump again before touching this thing because "he's never had to touch it" before. Why is this knob such a forbidden button to press?

  17. #17
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Power steering fluid flushed and symptoms still exist. What haven't I checked? I need help!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Four Rings rollerton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannYook View Post
    UPDATE:


    I notice steering getting stiffer at low RPM (Read: idling with car in gear). Apply some gas and power steering comes back.

    Thanks!

    If this is still true then I say it's the pump. Is there any 'foam' or bubbles in the PS reservoir after it warms up? If you can never see any foamy stuff in the reservoir and the steering is TIGHT at idle but works OK when the rpm's come up a few hundred then it sounds like the pump to me. I don't know anything specifically about the free-play adjustment, but the rack will self-center when moving but not while stationary, that's just normal. If it went to neutral all on it own all the time you would be fighting it all the time. Maybe the rack is bad? But if it seems OK at any time at all (i.e. above 1200rpm or when cold etc..) and doesn't have some kind of static/ consistent problem then I think if the problem is a component it must be the pump. A mal-adjusted or poorly rebuilt rack would have symptoms all the time I think.
    If it's parked, not moving, you turn the wheel side to side and it gets very much EASIER to turn as you slightly raise the idle-- totally sounds like the pump. Or something I don't know about- a wild card!
    foley803 : What does an electrical surge sound like? Barking dogs? Watermelons?

  19. #19
    Active Member Two Rings
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    You have a point about it being the pump. I'm wondering if that'd be the case even when I visibly see "circulation" in the reservoir during idling. Few posts above someone mentioned that if I notice the fluid circulating the pump should be good. Also, I'm already on my second replacement pump so what are the chances that I get stuck with two bad ones in a row?

    What about servotronic? Someone mentioned that I should check servotronic relay/fuse to see if it's functioning properly. What are the symptoms of failed or malfunctioning servotronic? I've seen some people who disable that stuff to gain stiffer steering. Can anyone who has experience doing that mod chime in, please?

    If you forget to activate it with the switch, how does the steering behave in low speed (parallel parking) situations? Would you say it feels like it's non-existent like my case?

  20. #20
    Senior Member Four Rings rollerton's Avatar
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    This is really a tough one if you think the shop did the install right. Here's a B7 Servotronic disable DIY, the components should be the same/ similar on the B6, you could disable the assist for troubleshooting and see if there's a difference? If not, then maybe there's a problem with it.
    ...(PowerAssist-Disable-Mod)....

    From your description it sounds like you feel almost no power assist at idle when not moving? I think disabling power assist isn't so drastic- or nobody would do it- you still need to be able to park the car. I don't think Audi would make the system so that your driving is compromised if it fails to work properly. From what I'm told it's noticable, but doesn't make it hard to steer.
    In our old A6 with the same symptoms (which had a NEW pump in it also) I rigged up 2 reserviors: one with NEW fluid on the inlet side, and another for the outlet line. The symptoms were exactly what you describe: zero assist at idle, and decent when moving or with RPM up a little.
    With the 2 reserviors I observed fluid circulation, but the fluid wasn't actually moving through the system- if that makes sense. Almost like the pump was cavitating- there was an internal crack, and I eventually guessed that the pump could only really build pressure at above idle. At low RPM fluid would bleed through the crack and back into the supply side- which looked like circulation, but wasn't.
    foley803 : What does an electrical surge sound like? Barking dogs? Watermelons?

  21. #21
    Veteran Member Four Rings diagnosticator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannYook View Post
    Update:

    Since my last post, I've been dealing with a blown water pump issue leading to a timing belt job. With that said, my mechanic is reluctant to make any adjustments on the self-centering adjuster. He'd rather flush fluids or even change out the pump again before touching this thing because "he's never had to touch it" before. Why is this knob such a forbidden button to press?
    Since the fluid flush did not help, next replace the pump. (Unless this has already been tried.) However, it is most likely based on the symptoms you described, IMO, that the rack adjestment is set to tight from the rebuilder. The rack adjustment is not a forbiden item, and the fact that your mechanic has never needed to do this before is irrelevant.
    Vorsprung durch Technik

  22. #22
    Registered Member One Ring
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    Stiff Power steering

    Quote Originally Posted by DannYook View Post
    Power steering fluid flushed and symptoms still exist. What haven't I checked? I need help!
    Hi Danny,
    I was wondering if you managed to sort out your car steeing wheel. Mine has similar problem and don't know what is the cause. audi dealer just changed the steering rack and the wheel feels stiff now. Thank you

  23. #23
    Senior Member Four Rings victimdumper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rollerton View Post
    This is really a tough one if you think the shop did the install right. Here's a B7 Servotronic disable DIY, the components should be the same/ similar on the B6, you could disable the assist for troubleshooting and see if there's a difference? If not, then maybe there's a problem with it.
    ...(PowerAssist-Disable-Mod)....
    just fyi and I'mnot positive, but IIRC B6 A4's did not have the servotronic option.
    but the s4's and B7's do

    EDIT: just realized this was an oldish thread , eh either way
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mas101 View Post
    Hi Danny,
    I was wondering if you managed to sort out your car steeing wheel. Mine has similar problem and don't know what is the cause. audi dealer just changed the steering rack and the wheel feels stiff now. Thank you
    Hey Mas,

    The search for a solution came to an end after swapping out the power steering pump for the fourth time. It became less stiff but not smooth. I am strongly leaning toward the center adjustment that diagnosticator mentioned in the prior posts. But there in lies another problem. For the 3.0, getting to the adjustment would require complete disassembly of the rack, which I wasn't going to do for what one would consider minor inconvenience. (There are those who purposely make their racks stiffer for the more positive feel.)

    I've since sold the car so that's all I have for you. Wish you the best of luck with finding your solution / peace with it.

  25. #25
    Active Member Two Rings
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    Quote Originally Posted by victimdumper View Post
    just fyi and I'mnot positive, but IIRC B6 A4's did not have the servotronic option.
    but the s4's and B7's do

    EDIT: just realized this was an oldish thread , eh either way
    It is an oldish thread, but your input would've been much helpful. I spent hours underneath my steering column looking for certain color relay and harnesses that may have been unplugged... Would've saved me a great deal of time and frustration!



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