Loud squealing from power steering pump - do I need new PS pump?
Upon start up the power steering pump belt squeals, it quiets down but squeals when I turn the wheel and if I accelerate hard the belt squeals again. I have replaced the belt but am unsure if the power steering pump needs replacing or if the cause is in the power steering rack. I have not noticed any significant leaks from the rack.
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This type of problem is best checked by a trusted mechanic. I doubt you'd hear squealing noises from the crankshaft or harmonic balancer; but it is likely to be heard from a belt tensioner pulley, water pump (or other belt-driven devices under the hood - such as the alternator, power steering pump, etc.). A loose or slipping belt can also cause this noise.
Spraying WD-40 on the source of the squeal may quiet the sound - but not solve the problem that is causing it. By simply masking the problem with WD-40 instead of fixing it - you run the risk of the squealing part failing catastrophically - probably at the least desirable place and time.
For your own safety and convenience, have this problem checked and repaired properly.
Remove the belt and check those parts. Spin them by hand The alternator should spin freely. The PS pump will have more drag on it. Also check the tensioner and idler pulleys. When turning them Feel for roughness. All these should be smooth turning. No bumps or grinding. One of them is going to be tight or rough. The PS pump will move in and out a bit, this is normal.
It sounds like the pump is stalling under load, most likely because the belt is old. Get it replaced, and if the power steering fluid hasn't been changed in 3 years or more, have the system flushed and filled too. Power steering oil is hygroscopic, just like brake fluid. Not to the same extent (it's not as aggressive in absorbing moisture), but over time it does take in water, which then corrodes the insides of your power steering system.
Does the squealing noise only happen when you accelerate? It may be the serpentine belt. If you look at the belt on the inside where the grooves are and the belt is all cracked up, then I'd start with the belt.
There are only 4 things that will cause a belt to squeal.
1. A bad/worn-out belt
2. A bad or misaligned pully or pulley bearing
3. A bad belt tensioner. (pulley, arm, pivot, or spring)
4. Malfunctioning or bad component (alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor, etc.)
Remove the belt and check ALL pullies to make sure that they rotate smoothly and do not have any horizontal play in them (indicating worn-out bearings). Make sure that the tensioner pully swings freely and does not bind in its travel at any point and that it is properly aligned with the other pullies. A good way to check for proper alignment is to look at the belt position on the pullies with the engine running. If the belt is running on the edge of the pullies instead of in the center, it is usually caused by a bad belt tensioner or a bad bearing on one of the other pullies.
Check the belt for chunks missing, torn or cracked ribs or shiny "glazed" edges, ribs, or back.
excess mechanical drag from the pump can cause the belt to slip and squeal, but before focusing on the pump I'd check the condition, tension and alignment of the belt. I might even try cleaning all the pulleys with an aerosol brake cleaner and install a new belt, particularly if the current one has more than 50,000 miles on it. It might be that the squeal is coming from or caused by a different belt-driven accessory. A more typical noise from a power-steering pump is a high-pitched whine, not a squeal. Usually, if the steering wheel is stationary, meaning that the steering rack is not "asking" for assistance from the high-pressure fluid from the pump, there's little or no noise