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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

View Poll Results: What is the problem?
PS Pump on last legs 1 25.00%
Steering Rack 0 0%
Blown Line/air bubbles 0 0%
Tires (It's not the tires, they are low profile) 0 0%
Bent steering rod (Please no!) 0 0%
Something else 3 75.00%
Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-07-2014, 04:21 PM   #1
smalltwig
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Question Laggy Power Steering, air in the lines?

Hi All,

This weirdness started after I swerved to avoid a pothole (going 45mph). The power steering is fine, mostly, unless I'm making a sharp turn (only tested at 2-5mph). It kind of lags after I turn the steering wheel 120 degrees either way (Update! This has changed to 60 degrees), like as if the power steering pump was completely dead or not fully working. It doesn't do it all the time, for example if I turn slowly or have very recently turned.

What's got me freaked out is that it stopped 3 days ago. Then my battery died over the weekend (it's on my to-do list), and today it was way worse than before.

Any ideas for what to check? Flush the oil? Something mechanical, steering rack?

P.s. No indication of a bad belt/tensioner, they are nice and quiet.

Last edited by smalltwig; 11-17-2014 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 10-07-2014, 07:07 PM   #2
Kubica
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The steering gets stiff after you turn the wheel more than 120 degrees? Or it gets stiff returning to center after turning the wheel 120 degrees? Or the the pump starts whining after you turn 120 degrees?

Check fluid level. Jack up the front and look for play in the suspension by shaking each wheel. Check the steering coupler.
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Old 10-08-2014, 02:29 PM   #3
SamDoe1
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Does it lag before the 120deg? The pump works harder the further you turn it and works harder still if the car isn't moving. If the steering gets hard after 120 degrees it sounds like the pump isn't working or there's not enough fluid in the system. Check fluid level, check for leaks, listen to the pump while someone else turns the wheels. If you hear any grinding/other weird sounds then start looking for a new pump.

Oh and ask Kubica said, check the suspension components.
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:06 PM   #4
smalltwig
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Thanks, I will check suspension. The steering gets stiff after about 100 degrees. Although this doesn't happen all the time. Returning to center is usually fine. Sometimes there will be a slight stiffness but the pump seems to "catch up" after a second.
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Old 11-16-2014, 11:59 PM   #5
smalltwig
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Checked the suspension, it's actually better when I turn the AC off? And I've noticed with the AC on, it's actually stiffer than it should be all the time. It's when I turn the wheel 60 degrees (i know I said 120, but that's changed since I started the thread) that it gets fairly heavy. When people ask (I let parents and gf drive it, close friends occasionally), I say I "Turned down the power steering to get a better feel of the car", which is kind of true, I can feel more of the car now. However, things like bump steer and incline steer (one side is higher than the other) are becoming more of an issue :/

Last edited by smalltwig; 11-17-2014 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 11-17-2014, 12:32 PM   #6
SamDoe1
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How are the belts on your car? And the tensioner? If the belt is slipping, you have no power steering. And if it's slipping under load, it could be the tensioner.
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Old 11-17-2014, 02:47 PM   #7
smalltwig
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It's funny you say that, I checked belts and tension when I first posted a month ago. Today, with the colder weather.. I started hearing a quiet, but noticeable shrilling "wewewewewewewewewe". I'll see how things go when I replace the belt.
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Old 12-20-2014, 04:15 PM   #8
jmo69
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Any resolutions to this problem? I've got a heavy steering issue with my 03 325xi. It has always felt heavier than my e36 but lately it's gotten heavier, almost like a 4WD truck on pavement. The only thing I did recently was replace the pressure line from the pump to the rack. I refilled the reservoir with Reline D4 ATF, worked the air out and the level has been right on the full line for a week.
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Last edited by jmo69; 12-23-2014 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:06 AM   #9
illuminated
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Definitely sounds to me like you have air in the lines, if this is really a 'lagg' as the word would be used to describe. I would say in the mean time 'turn-in' to turns a little bit early just to be safe. The last thing you need is to clip someone's fender/bumper who's in a rush when you take a turn too wide and they're stopped past the stop line.
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Old 12-23-2014, 05:18 PM   #10
smalltwig
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New tires made it a lot better. It's still there, a little. It's hardly noticeable now.
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:20 PM   #11
jmo69
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In my case it seems like it's gotten worse with the winter tires on, but I don't remember it being like this last winter with the same tires.
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Old 12-24-2014, 10:28 AM   #12
smalltwig
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Hmm, yeah you got me there. Replacing my belt did nothing, how are your control arms and axle bushings?
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Old 12-25-2014, 12:05 AM   #13
jmo69
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Still good as far as I can tell, after the holidays I'm going to look closer and check the brakes to make sure I don't have a caliper hanging up.
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