Ford Explorer has been making horrible noise (constant whine when accelerator is pressed)… The mechanic said he found metal in the power steering fluid and told me we need to replace the power steering pump and the rack & pinion system. Is he right about this? He said you can’t replace one without the other… I’ve done a little research and I think we can get away with a new pump. Your thoughts?
Is there a problem with the steering? Any increased difficulty steering? Any noise when the wheel is turned? Any loss of fluid?
I’m curious as to how the mechanic identified metal in the PS fluid. This is not a normal diagnostic check for a noisy pump. Did he pull a sample? If so, why? Next question is where did the metal come from - rack & pinion unit or most likely the pump? If indeed there is evidence of metal shavings in the fluid, then its safe to assume the shavings have also infested the rack & pinion cylinder and hoses. If the PS pump is the culpret, he may be able to flush out the hoses and rack & pinion cylinder, which could mean removal to clean.
In such situations I have cobbled up a remote filter that can be installed in the return line which filters out any contaminants and allows for a fairly thorough flushing. When the filter is dumped on a clean towel metal is easily spotted. When “black rack” disease was a common problem the filtering and flushing often avoided replacing the rack.
Thank you all for your replies - I took it to another mechanic today (one that I know and trust, etc) and he confirmed that we’ll probably need to replace both, but he’ll do a complete inspection to determine if we can get away with just one or the other. He said a new O ring on the pump might help (as well as flushing the system), but it’s not a long term fix.