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Re: What caused my power steering belt to come off...
Is your car the turbo charged or non tubo car. On the turbo car the power steering pump is on the front right hand side. all you need to do is put the belt back on and apply pressure til the belt is tight then tighten up the bolts that hold the power steering pump.
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Have you checked the level of the power steering fluid if it is low it can cause a noise similar to what you described. The power steering pump could be starting to fail and making the noise. I would suggest checking the power steering fluid level and if low, they make some fluid that has power steering fluid conditioner, supposed to help extend the life of the power steering pump, if it is low you need to follow the lines from the pump and see if you can find a leak anywhere. also I would take notice of the color of the power steering fluid, if not too much trouble maybe take a picture of the fluid and upload it here, the fluid can break down and need to be replaced.
I see this is a two part question... In replacing the alternator, there is no reason at all to be messing with the pulley on the power steering. That pulley is pressed on and though you could remove it with a puller it is far more difficult to re-install without the proper tools. (it is not hammered on). Power steering pulleys don't just fall off. They are so tightly pressed onto the shaft that they don't even require a retaining bolt to hold them on. Without the benefit of being able to examine it myself, I'd have to guess that either you originally had a mis-match of pulley to pulley shaft and the pulley was sliding on the shaft (so remote a concept that you may be hit by a meteorite if you buy that) Or someone removed it for an unknown reason and did not properly re-install it.
There are several possibilities.
1. power steering pump locked up or locking up (extremely low fluid could cause this)
2. a random pully could have locked up and caused the belt to break, resulting in a loss of power steering.
That's easy, there are some pulleys with ridges to grip the underside of the belt, and some are smooth for the top side of the belt. I can only assume your belt broke and fell off so you couldn't see how it was on prior. But either way you have limited length, and the last place you would be routing the belt is the tensioner, which you should have located first, so you can have a wrench handy to fit it.
Here's what you have: Top left= alternator (small ridged) top right = power steering (large ridged) Bottom right = AC compressor (large ridged) Bottom middle = Crank Pulley (large ridged) In middle next to Power steering = Tensioner (small shiny smooth)
Remove the air cleaner housing (two bolts) Start on left top side and loop belt (clockwise) across the alternator to the power steering down to AC (also clockwise from right to left) then over to crank pulley (from bottom clockwise around to top of pulley) to tensioner (smooth, belt is backwards on it) which will go back up to the alternator.
At the top middle there should be a sensor protruding from the timing cover that the belt passes under as it connects between the alternator and the power steering. And you won't easily be able to fit anything besides a box-end wrench on the tensioner, so you may need some kind of extension on the wrench to get good torque on it without hurting yourself.
your belt could be the culprit i had the same problem with my old ranger where the belt sliped under certain conditions and causes loss of power steering pump pressure.
the next time it happens pull the whell as hard as you can and se if it acts the same as when the vechile is turned off
The power steering and power brakes are connected to an extent. They both pull their power from the same place (basically) I would check to make sure that you have enough fluid in both first. Then check to make sure you dont have air in any of the steering fluid lines.