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  #1  
Old 6th April 2007
Rand148 Rand148 is offline
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Default Steering problems

I'm driving a 1987 Saab 9000. Recently steering has become a bit of a problem. I feels as though I am loosing power steering (much more stiff when turning, steering wheel does not straighten itself out when coming out of turns, generally much increased resistance to being turned) while driving, but it is also associated with a scraping/twisting sound coming fromt he steering wheel, which makes me think that the source of the problem lies in there. At first it started as an intermitant problem, coming and going several times during a drive, but more recently it has become more of a constant thing.

Any suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 6th April 2007
Aaron Gilbert Aaron Gilbert is offline
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If the power steering fluid level is ok, my guess would be that your steering rack is going out. They are known to go bad on that vintage 9000, sometimes making for stickyness in the steering. The part itself isn't that expensive, $150-200 or so, but it's several hours labor to install, and apparently not a fun job. It made a huge difference on my '87 though, and mine wasn't nearly as bad as yours sounds. I think I had about 250k miles at the time mine was done.
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  #3  
Old 6th April 2007
Rand148 Rand148 is offline
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Thanks. I've got about 210k miles clocked on it. Both my father and I drove it separately and agreed that the noise and resistance seems to be coming from somewhere much closer to the actual steering wheel itself.
Could it be that the mechanism that locks the wheel when the key isn't inserted is malfunctioning and sticking when it shouldn't? Is it possible/easy to remove it, if that's the case?
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  #4  
Old 6th April 2007
Aaron Gilbert Aaron Gilbert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rand148
Thanks. I've got about 210k miles clocked on it. Both my father and I drove it separately and agreed that the noise and resistance seems to be coming from somewhere much closer to the actual steering wheel itself.
Could it be that the mechanism that locks the wheel when the key isn't inserted is malfunctioning and sticking when it shouldn't? Is it possible/easy to remove it, if that's the case?
I've never heard of a problem with the steering lock, but lots with the steering rack, especially at your mileage. Still, anything is possible. I had a couple issues with my '87 that the shop said they hadn't seen before. I don't know how hard it would be to replace a malfunctioning steering column, or if possible, the column lock mechanism. The only thing I replaced on mine was the electrical portion of the ignition switch, which was easy - just remove the lower column cover and the switch is right there. But it doesn't sound like the switch is your problem at all. Does the steering column have any play in it up/down or side to side (without turning steering wheel)? If so, maybe you just need to tighten some bolts?
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  #5  
Old 7th April 2007
BrettK BrettK is offline
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Is your power steering pump making any noise?
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  #6  
Old 7th April 2007
Rand148 Rand148 is offline
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No noise from the power steering pump, just the scraping sound from the wheel.
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  #7  
Old 7th April 2007
winddance winddance is offline
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What's your charging gauge saying during this time? If the charging voltage drops your serpentine belt could be starting to slip. It powers the power steering pump, alternator and water pump. If it is slipping replace it asap. Mine broke and sprung 2 other parts and cost over $500 to fix.
It is out of my area of expertise, but many cars that I have rebuilt have a u joint in the steering shaft going from the steering wheel to the steering gear. If the steering is just locking then taking an extra pull to bring back to normal one of those could be bad. ANy way you look at it, if it is the front end they are a drag to work on and it might be more desirable to pay someone to do this project.
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  #8  
Old 8th April 2007
Superaero Superaero is offline
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If that is the original steering rack then 99% certain that's the problem. If the rack was replaced with the new design or updated rebuild (steel sleeved) then probably some other fault. The racks on later cars are built for the life of the car.


The originals used aluminum housings and the O rings on the spool valve that controls the power assist at the steering pinion slowly carve their way into the housing eventually restricting the flow of fluid. This is usually most noticable on a dead cold start as is usual in the morning (some SAABers called this "morning sickness") and usually the problem is only severe at low speeds and on center, once the spool valve gets turned a bit the pressure suddenly rushes in and the steering feels normal.

New rack is the only known cure, and there was a time when rebuilt racks were also available. When rebuilding the spool valve was sleeved with steel and they last basically forever. New racks are also steel protected and are good for the life of the car.
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  #9  
Old 8th April 2007
Aaron Gilbert Aaron Gilbert is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superaero
If that is the original steering rack then 99% certain that's the problem. If the rack was replaced with the new design or updated rebuild (steel sleeved) then probably some other fault. The racks on later cars are built for the life of the car.
Any idea when they went to the 'racks on later cars'? Don't have any problems with my 1991, just curious...
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  #10  
Old 8th April 2007
Rand148 Rand148 is offline
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I actually found the source of the problem and it was much more simple than any of then. I was going to try to replace the wheel locking mechanism, so I started by taking it out in a junker, to see what I was up against. Then, when i started nspecting my own car before starting the operation, I noticed that the universal joint at the bottom of the steering column was contacting an electrical connection. The plastic connection housing was visably worn down, so i bent it out of the was and the problem was fixed.

Thank you all for your input.
-Ben
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  #11  
Old 9th April 2007
Superaero Superaero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Gilbert
Any idea when they went to the 'racks on later cars'? Don't have any problems with my 1991, just curious...
No, but I have a suspicion it was when GM bought in which would be 1991 or so.

The fault started showing up on the 86 models in the early 90's.
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