Snow = no power steering?

Chevy 1/2 ton P/U 2000 5.3L, auto-trans.

Had to drive off road a bit because of snow. Into 3-foot snow bank. Came right back onto roadway after traffic passed. Power steering stop working immediately. Checked lines - all seem ok. Checked fluid level - at normal level. PS pump not dislocated, belt tension seems to be about right. Rinsed snow off of steering linkages - no change. Still no PS.


The power steering hydraulic line may have gotten bent. This could prevent fluid from moving through the line; thus, no POWER steering.

Checked lines. Nearly impossible to get bent by snow drift as the lines are above all of the steering linkages. Checked with other web-sites and found that this PS pump has a bad habit of shearing the pump axle/spindle. That’s what happened in this case too. Replaced pump. Disconnected battery during work, now engine doesn’t want to keep running without excessive gas pedal pressure. Stalls as soon as relying on idle to keep it running. Ideas?

If it only runs with the throttle down a bit then it is most likely the idle air control valve (IAC) - check the power supply to the IAC before doing anything else.

Although you’d need to clarify about “excessive” gas pedal pressure. For at least some cars, but maybe for all (?) there is a recommended procedure for retraining the PCM after having had the battery disconnected. I haven’t looked in a while but I think that on my Olds Silhouette I’m supposed to start it and rev & hold it at 2500 rpm for some period of time. I don’t have any idea if that could make a difference since I’ve never had a problem like yours after disconnecting the battery.

Did you remove the positive battery cable when doing the repair? If so, check the terminals under the red rubber cover for the positive cable assembly for corrosion. Just peel the cover back, and if a lot of corrosion is found, replace the positive battery cable assembly.


Cigroller, I think you are on the right track. I left interior lights on a couple of times on my van and after charging battery and restarting van, it wouldn’t idle at first.

Running ok – must have been a vapor lock or something that wasn’t very important. PS back to normal.

Case closed.

Yes, it does look like the engine computer had to go through a relearn, after the battery had been disconnected. To prevent the necessity of a relearn, when battery power is disconnected, use a temporary 12 volt battery to supply power to the engine computer “keep alive” circuit.

Didn’t know there was such an animal (keep alive circuit, that is). Is it easily identified? Is the polarity obvious? Heard about using a device that utilizes the cigarette lighter socket. Is that a reasonable idea?

BTW thanks to all for the tips.

Big Bird 999