Difficulty steering

steering
chevrolet
lumina

#1

As I was maneuvering to parallel park my car the steering wheel lost its ease of motion and became very stiff to turn, not as responsive as it once was. Simultaneous to this I heard what sounded like a hissing noise. I see dollar signs all over this. Could it be my rebuilt alternator, lose of hydraulic fluid, driveshaft? Should I call for the tow truck?



BTW, what is a Lumina APV as opposed to a Lumina.


#2

Look under the car to see if there are any signs of leaks.

Hissing sounds usually mean a vacuum hose. Find the sound of the hissing noise. Use your ear and maybe a short length of old garden hose as a stethoscope to pinpoint the source of the noise. It may be nothing more than putting a hose back on a fitting.

It is not likely an alternator, but they may be related. Perhaps someone knocked a vacuum hose off of something when they were working on the alternator.


#3

A hissing noise could be from a vacuum leak, or it could be from a slipping belt, or it could be from a high-pressure leak. No two people describe the same noise in the same way, so what the OP calls “hissing” could possibly be described differently by others.

In any event, a vacuum leak would not cause problems with the power steering unless the leak resulted in a stumbling, badly-running engine. There is no indication from the OP that there is a difference in the way that the engine is idling–thus I don’t believe that a vacuum leak is the problem here.

A slipping belt could definitely lead to reduced power assist for the steering, so I would suggest that the OP check his/her serpentine belt. It is entirely possible that loosening or removing the serpentine belt in order to install the rebuilt alternator resulted in problems with belt tension. In fact, this scenario makes the most sense, IMHO.

Also, as Mr. Meehan suggested, an under the car check should be done to see if there is evidence of leaking power steering fluid.

The only thing that you can definitely rule out is the driveshaft, as your car does not have one, being that it is a FWD vehicle.

As to whether to tow the car or not, that depends on the distance to the mechanic who did the alternator job.
If it is a short distance, and if you have good upper-body strength, you may be able to drive the car back to the mechanic. If you have any doubts, then it should be towed, as difficulty in steering the car is a safety issue.

Incidentally, if I am correct about the serpentine belt, I believe that this mechanic owes you the money for the tow.


#4

***If it is a short distance, and if you have good upper-body strength, you may be able to drive the car back to the mechanic. If you have any doubts, then it should be towed, as difficulty in steering the car is a safety issue. ***

If the OP can get the car out of its parking place, it will likely be driveable with a lot of effort. As the car gets moving, steering gets easier.

If this is really a serpentine belt issue, (and the serpentine belt is still there and properly routed), it might be quick and easy to “fix” the car in place. If the OP knows anyone who works on cars, it might be a reasonable idea to have them look at the situation before calling a tow truck.


#5

The others covered your problem. To answer your other question, the APV was a minivan. The regular Lumina was a 4 door sedan.