buick century steering

gibson486gibson486 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Buick
i am going to sell a 88 buick century. the only problem is that the streering is kind of rough. I mean it is really stiff, especially when I am backing out of a parking space. i have to really try to turn the wheel at times. what could the problem be?


  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Assuming the power steering pump reservoir is full and the drive belt is tight, the cause is probably the valve housing in the rack and pinion assembly worn, allowing pressure to bypass. Usually worse when the car's first started and the system's cold (referred to in the trade as "morning sickness"), then gets a bit better as the system warms up. Check the ps fluid. If it's black, the r&p is done. The fix is a reman r&p.
  • gibson486gibson486 Member Posts: 2
    yes, the power steering resevoir is full and yes, it does have "morining sickness"..., so if the ps fluid is black, then does that mean I have to replace the rack and pinion steering?
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Member Posts: 1,565
    This sounds like the chronic GM problem with power steering racks that started on their X-cars (Citations) and carried over to their A cars for which the Century was one, along with the Chevy Celebrity(I had an '83) and the Olds Ciera. Boy, I can't believe they built cars with the same power steering problems for so many years. I believe the fix was replace the rack assembly.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The 4 teflon seals on the outer diameter of the open centre rotary spool valve, which direct fluid from the pump to the pressure chambers on each side of the rack piston then back to the pump, were redesigned 3 times because metallic grit was getting imbedded in their outer diameters and acting as rotary files against the aluminum valve housing every time the steering wheel was turned. Didn't work. Then the valve housing was hard anodized to reduce wear. Didn't work. Then the rack housing was redesigned with a cast iron valve housing. Better, but still a seal wear problem. Aftermarket reman units have the scored valve housing honed and a stainless steel sleeve pressed in. No more housing wear. And it isn't just a GM problem. I've replaced rack & pinions on most brands because of the same failure.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Thanks for the overview, Alcan. It seems to be fairly well known that GM made more than one unsuccessful attempt to solve that problem. I had often wanted to know the details which you have so ably provided. Do newer GM housings utilize the SS sleeve? If so, do you know when GM introduced them?
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