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Can a bad rack make the power steering pump sound bad?

The vehicle is a 2002 Ford Escape, DOHC V-6.

If I put a stethoscope on the pump, the roar that I can hear from inside the car seems to be pinpointed in the pump. The reservoir is full. Of course I can see the fluid circulating inside. The steering works normally. I can feel vibration in the high pressure line So, what’s causing the noise? I think the pump is bad, but it was replaced less than 10K miles ago.

Was it replaced with an OEM or aftermarket pump? I have put in Autozone parts that failed prematurely and as soon as I put them in. I started using either OEM or NAPA.

Why was the pump replaced 10K ago? If the pump has to work hard to keep a bad rack operating normally then it could make noise. I would have the front end checked by an independent front end shop to get a better answer. Guessing usually ends up costing you more money in the long run.

My father in law bought the Escape new. Mrs Mc inherited it ten years ago and has put on all but about 20K of its miles. I seldom drive it, unless it needs something done, as it is not comfortable for my 6’ 1’’ body. Regular oil and transmission fluid changes, brakes, and the 1st pump are all it has ever needed. The original rack now has 154K miles on it. The original Ford pump was replaced with a rebuilt unit when it became noisy.

I know a good alignment shop, which I believe is quite honest, but I thought I’d check here first. The total knowledge of this BBS always amazes me.

The answer to your question is yes, a bad rack can make a PS pump work harder than it should. That type of rack failure is unusual, however. I agree that you should have it checked by a trusted mechanic. All I can tell you from here is that it is possible, not that it is the cause of the noise.

I get the sense this car has been driven quite conservatively. Racing around corners and hitting curbs and potholes, especially during tight turns, that is often the cause of rack problems. If this doesn’t describe the way this car has been driven, and it hasn’t been in a wreck, and it steers and tracks ok, no vibrations in the steering wheel, and the tire wear pattern is normal, my guess is that the pump is the most likely culprit.

Change the fluid first with synthetic ATF. What some places sell as power steering fluid is way to heavy and can cause the pump to suck in air through tiny imperfections in the fluid return.

Yes, @GeorgeSanJose it is generally driven fairly conservatively except Mrs Mc has somewhat of a lead foot. 80 in a 75 is quite normal.

@rattlegas The fluid it has now is red. I guess it is ATF added when the pump was installed. Is an Escape supposed to have ATF for fluid?

Your owner’s manual is the final authority on what fluid is required. ATF is common for power steering systems, but always check your manual.

Mu guess is that George is right… and the rebuilt pump is failing.

If heavy generic power steering fluid is added to ATF or if conventional ATF was used it will still be red so visual inspection gets you nowhere.

Synthetic ATF uses a base oil of 0W20 which is why you want use it regardless of what the car has now. If the problem is air mixing with the fluid this change of fluid will usually solve it.

Ford dealers use this a mechanic in a can product to help with noise complaints.

Well… the synthetic fluid made no difference. I guess we’re looking at another pump. At least it’s drivable. She’s planning on a 400 mile trip this eeekend.

Tell her to leave the radio turned up for now. :wink:

My guess would be along the lines of a poor quality replacement pump when that was done, as others have mentioned.