Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Steering is tight


I have a 1991 bmw 319is. The steering is very tight when the car is stationary. It improves as the car picks up speed. Some days back I noticed this problem and checked the steering fluid level. It was close to empty and I refilled it. The problem improved but has returned. Help.

Is there a weird growling sound coming from the engine area? I suspect a bad power steering pump. As the pump gets weaker, the steering will get even tighter.

nope, no unexpected noises from the engine area. I’ll check again though.

I still suspect a bad pump. They usually growl when they go bad, but not always. The pump provides pressure to the power steering gear to help turn the wheels. If it is not producing the pressure, the steering will get stiff. This will be most evident in low-speed situations, like parking lots.

Where did the missing fluid go? There should be evidence of a leak…
Since the system was operated with low fluid, the pump may be damaged. A bad seal in the rack and pinion can cause you to lose assist. The rack may be worn out, period. You need to visit a good independent BMW shop and get it checked out. Steering problems are not just annoyances, they need to be fixed.

thanks for helping me think through this. you are rignt i’ll need to take it into the shop and have it looked at. stronzo had a great question, where did the fluid go? I do not see any leaking fluid, but it must have gone somewhere.

good question. when i checked the fluid levels this morning it was low again. so I must have a leak, or it could just be air in the line got displaced causing the level to go down. however, there must be a leak somewhere.

The steering rack can leak a considerable amount into the boots before dripping out. Look closely at the tie-rod boots.