HELP! 2004 Ford Ranger 3.0 4x4 with 52k POWER STEERING NOISE!

After spending nearly $1,000 on my 04 Ford Ranger to fix a whining power steering noise the dealer can’t figure it out. They replaced power steering pump twice, then recommended replace the steering rack. Well still VERY LOUD to point of sounding like it will explode! Ford had their Engineer come to look at truck and he said replace all the power steering lines, and guess what still sounds like it was day one all over again. Ford Engineer will be coming back on Wednesday to look at it again?? What the heck is the problem here? I have taken extreme car of this truck, and only has 52k on it. What else could it be? I had second opinion at other garage and they say its the pump and to replace the pump again? What would cause the pump to continually fail? I have the truck at dealer for almost 3 weeks now, afraid to drive it with the noise. I replaced the belt, tensioner, and idler pulley myself when i noticed the the issue several weeks ago. Ford said it is in the steering they just can’t find the answer yet. ANY SUGGESTIONS PLEASE!!

The only thing I can think of is air in the system, and the dealership not bleeding it out properly. There really is not much to a power steering system. Pump, Rack, control valve, hoses… Thats about it, and it sounds like it was all replaced with new parts, so ???

Well, my gears are turning. Each time they replace something the sound stays EXACTLY the same? Or has the sound been changing? After pump 1? After pump 2? Rack? Hoses?

I’ve never experienced it but I do have a note in one of my Haynes manuals about power steering line routing to the effect that if any metal portions of the line are in contact with any metal on the car it will make noise. The metal portions of the line have to be properly routed through a series of isolator clips.

Does it whine always, or only when turning?
Were the replacement pumps new or rebuilt?

If my understanding of the noise is accurate, the only thing I can think of is a leaky port in the flow control valve in the pump assembly. It’s a part of the pump assembly and should have been changed with the assembly, but perhaps on a rebuilt it’s not rebuilt.

I’ve attached a typical PS pump rebuild procedure to give you an idea what’s involved. Hope it helps.

Has anyone cleaned the filter screen inside the PS fluid reservoir? They can become plugged and starve the pump for fluid. This is auto-repair 101…

Yes the noise is actually getting worse! You can clearly hear it over the engine. It sounds like a old generator light on a bicycle wheel when turning. It sounds like the pump is running dry, but it has fluid in in it? The first pump was a reman Ford pump, and they tried a reman NAPA pump. and then a new rack, followed by all new lines installed. They said they did bleed it properly but noise continues. There is something clearly wrong with the power steering system. I know Ford pumps whine a little, but this is totally unacceptable. Also the last pump has a new reservior. The noise is there from idle to driving speed just louder at higher speeds. Doesn’t seem to be a problem turning from side to side though. Can somebody let me know if the control valve is usually included in a reman pump also. Ford Engineer will be at dealership tomorrow to look at it again. I’m at a loss, I don’t mind paying fpr a repair that I can’t do myself, but I’m at my wits end??? Any other thoughts would be appreciated. THANKS!!

OK dumb question, are they sure its the Power Steering at all?? Could it be a bad bearing in the alternator, or on the AC compressor?? I am just guessing at this point.

That was my point…I don’t know how extensive they get…or don’t get… when they rebuilt these pumps. It might be a crap shoot.

Let us know what the Ford engineer has to say.

The quality of remanned parts is quite suspect in general. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this pump is known for this problem but those doing the rebuilding don’t know it. So lots of them come off for being noisy & the reman process never actually fixes them. I’m sure there are plenty of companies making plenty of money doing half-baked raman jobs on all manner of parts coupled with really short warranties - leaving we the end users to deal with the fall out.

These are points I also thought of. I borrowed a mechanics stethoscope and listened to a/c compressor and alternator and they had a slight noise, but when you get to the power steering pump WOW! almost blew my ears out. Also I really can’t find a company that would sell a NEW power steering pump, all re manufactured. I have picked the brains of the mechanics were I work and they are also stumped. Thanks for your help, and I will post more remarks when hearing from the Ford Engineer. Mark, US ARMY VETERAN.

Yes a flow control valve would be part of a remand pump. If you scoped the pump and the noise is coming from there, that’s likely it. Perhaps the flow control valve is stuck. With engine running and not moving, turn the steering wheel all the way until it stops and hold it there for a few seconds. Does the sound change ? It should, this is where the flow control valve kicks in and allows fluid to recirculate in the pump. If the noise does not change the valve is likely stuck or there is a blockage in the system. However if this is the case you should also be experiencing a loss of assist in your steering. I know you said you changed the lines, but recheck for a groundout of the pressure line.

I had a power steering hose blow on my older model Ford Ranger a couple of years ago. I had to jack up both front wheels and move the steering wheel back and forth slowly to both stops for about 10 minutes before I finally got all the air worked out of it. I had to do this to my mother-in-law’s 2001 Taurus because of power steering noise. It also took around 10 minutes before it got quieter.

Steeringguy, do you know if the rebuild houses typically rebuild the flow control valve when the rebuild the pumps?

Yes they do rebuild the flow control valve. That valve however is very sensitive to contamination. Dealers used to rebuild pumps on their own until OEM’s made them non servicible item. This was primarily due to the amount of service time required and the cleanlinest needed to avoid contamination.

Is it then possible that the OP has contamination in his system that’s getting into and ruining pump after pump? In your opinion should the OP be searching for a source of contamination?

To the OP, has the system been entirely flushed out? Including the reservoir?

Again, has anyone checked the filter inside the reservoir?? A zero cost fix if it’s plugged up…

Well there should be a 100 micron or so filter in the reservoir to catch contaminates if they were introduced into the system downstream of the pump. This is a tough one, since just about everything has already been replaced you almost have to assume one of the replament parts is bad. Is this system still providing proper assist ? Does it have a P/S cooler ? Also if you hold the steering in full lock (turned al the way to one side) the pump can burn out in as little as a minute. Is there some sort of parking or trailer backing where this may happen ?

Well Just heard back from Ford Dealer. After lengthy diagnostic with Ford Engineer and Service Tech they determined that they will replace the Pressure Control Valve(or flow valve). They will need to order part and will install in the next day or two when part arrives. They said Ford Engineer was back and forth will his colleagues in Detroit discussing my problem. As far as a filter in reservoir, never did I see one there. When filling you just pour fluid in. I still don’t understand the idea of the Pressure Control Valve? Thought that it was included in the new pump install, which has been two already, so why install another. I never get to speak to Engineer, just the Service Manager. Any other thoughts out there ? This saga just Continues! Thanks, Mark US ARMY VETERAN

Sincere thanks for posting back. Hopefully that’ll solve the problem once and for all.

Sincere best.

PostScript: sincere and heartfelt thanks for your service. My son is currently serving under army command as a part of a Special Ops team somewhere in Afghanistan, doing something he can’t disclose, and our men and women in the military are on my mind every day, from morning 'til night.

Drain the reservoir with a turkey baster and look inside with a flashlight… The filter will be where the pump intake hose connects to the reservoir…The filter is inside the reservoir, completely hidden by the fluid…Typically, hose particles slough off and collect on the filter screen…