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Special tool?

I have an '01 Chevy Impala that has a seriously loud groaning coming from the power steering pump,and I’m told it needs to be replaced.My regular service guys tell me they can get and install the pump,but can’t bleed it properly,so it could still make the noise.Is this true,or do they just not want to do the work ?

You are correctr about the special tool. Nowadays, the big auto makers are designing cars that are not friendly towards neighborhood mechanics. The cars require specialized tools that are supplied only to the dealership mechanics. It’s an unethical way of making sure their dealership mechanics stay in business. I have a 1992 Buick that’s still serviceable by my neighborhood mechanic.He warned me that if I buy a new car I’ll be “married” to the dealer.

I don’t think that the need to vacuum bleed power steering is all that uncommon on newer cars. Aftermarket vacuum bleeders are available with adapters for different cars. It sounds like this shop has decided not to invest in such stuff. They will eventually change their mind on this or go out of business.

After doing any work to the power steering system, it will make noise for a while, until all the air is worked out of it. Most of the air can be bled from it simply by capping the return plug on the back of the pump and allowing the fluid to flow through the system and exit into a catch pan through the return hose. I have heard of vacuum bleeders for power steering systems, but have never used them. They may be telling you this to help you understand that you will probably still have some noise for a day or two after the job is done, and may have to check the fluid level and add to it. Perhaps they simply didn’t explain this thoroughly enough. If you have the 3.8L motor, perhaps they don’t want to do the job. They are kind of tricky to do this job on. I’ve done a few of them.

The system is not vacuum bled. A vacuum is applied to check for leaks in the system.

This is the procedure to bleed the system. Note that you still start the car to bleed the air but you don’t cycle the steering wheel from stop to stop.

Attach the J 43485 to the J 35555 or equivalent.
Place the J 43485 on or in the pump reservoir filler neck.
Apply a vacuum of 68 kPa (20 in Hg) maximum.
Wait 5 minutes. Typical vacuum drop is 7 - 10 kPa (2 - 3 in Hg) . If the vacuum does not remain steady, refer to Excessive Vacuum Drop Diagnosis.
Remove the J 43485 and the J 35555.
Reinstall the pump reservoir cap.
Start the engine. Allow the engine to idle.
Turn off the engine.
Verify the fluid level. Repeat steps 11 - 13 until the fluid stabilizes. Important: Do not turn steering wheel to lock.
Start the engine. Allow the engine to idle.
Turn the steering wheel 180 - 360 degrees in both directions 5 times.
Switch the ignition off.
Verify the fluid level.