Troubleshooting the Power Steering in a Ford Taurusby Gary Proulx
The power steering system operates as a sealed system in today's automobiles. It supplies fluid to operate the steering box and returns it, via the hoses, to the power steering pump. The system is fairly reliable; but if the vehicle's steering suddenly has a different feel to it or becomes noisy, it could be in need of maintenance. Ford recommends that the fluid in the Taurus' power steering be checked every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first.
Raise the hood of the vehicle and locate the power steering pump on the right side of the engine towards the front. The OHC-equipped Taurus uses a remote reservoir for the power steering fluid. This is located on the right side of the strut tower while the standard OHV model has the reservoir built into the pump housing.
Check the fluid level by starting the engine and allowing it to warm up. While the engine is idling, turn the steering wheel to the left and right a few times to allow air to escape from the system. Shut the engine off and remove the cap. On OHV models, remove the cap, wipe it off and replace it. Remove the cap again and check the level. It must be in the range marked " Full Hot." If the engine is an OHC model, the fluid must be between the minimum and maximum lines on the reservoir.
Determine if the power steering pump sounds noisier than normal. If so, the power steering belt could need adjustment, or the pulley itself could be loose. The main cause of pump noise is insufficient fluid.
Check for excessive play in the steering wheel. This indicates a problem with either the steering box, worn tie-rod ends, loose wheel bearings or possibly excessive wear in the suspension bushings.
Determine if the steering feels abnormally stiff. This may be caused by incorrect tire pressure, ball joints that are worn or out of adjustment, or a steering gear or wheel bearing that is out of adjustment.
Turn the steering wheel from side to side with the engine running and notice if the power assist feels the same in both directions. If the effort is not the same in both directions, there is either a leak in the steering gear or a clogged fluid passage in the gear.
Turn the steering wheel from side to side, again with the engine running, and notice if the power steering system is helping turn the wheels. If there is no power assistance, this indicates a low fluid level, air in the system, a worn or loose drive belt, a hose restriction or a defective pump.
- "Chiltons Auto Repair Manual, 1981-1988"; Chilton Book Company; 1987
- Always check fluid levels with the vehicle parked on level ground.
Things You'll Need
- Power steering fluid
- Power steering fluid can easily damage automotive finishes so use caution when handling.
Gary Proulx has been writing since 1980. He specializes in automotive technology and gasoline and diesel design. Proulx has had multiple articles published on various websites. He is also an archery expert who writes about the ins and outs of archery as a sport.