E46 BMW Social Directory E46 FAQ 3-Series Discussion Forums BMW Photo Gallery BMW 3-Series Technical Information E46 Fanatics - The Ultimate BMW Resource BMW Vendors General E46 Forum The Tire Rack's Tire Wheel Forum Forced Induction Forum The Off-Topic The E46 BMW Showroom For Sale, For Trade or Wanting to Buy

Welcome to the E46Fanatics forums. E46Fanatics is the premiere website for BMW 3 series owners around the world with interactive forums, a geographical enthusiast directory, photo galleries, and technical information for BMW enthusiasts.

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.

Go Back   E46Fanatics > E46 BMW > General E46 Forum

General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 10-03-2015, 08:47 AM   #1
hideousbacon
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 6
My Ride: 2005 e46 sedan
e46 power steering fluid won't go

Hey all,

I hesitated to post, but I've searched a lot and found very few folks who have experienced this problem.

First post/recent member and pretty new e46 owner here. I got my 2005 330i e46 sedan with 110k miles back in December, and after helping my brother work on his car (same exact model minus the this spring, I decided to try to get all the preventative maintenance out of the way.

Before anything else, a huge thank you to everyone on here who contributes to this mountain of expertise and has patience for those of us who are new to maintenance and ask the same questions again and again. I'm embarrassed to say this, but prior to owning this car, I'd never even changed my oil before and didn't know an ICV from a CCV from my own a--, so thanks to everyone on here - I've learned a ton from you guys. Also, FCP Euro has, and continues to blow my mind with their excellent customer service - kudos!

Before I Mango-fied my cooling system, the only thing I'd done was replaced the torn lower intake boot, which fixed the only codes I'd thrown - infamous P0171/174. After that, here's everything I did:

-flushed coolant and power steering fluid.

-replaced entire cooling system: new hoses, thermostats, expansion tank Stewart water pump, new Behr radiator (my condensor looks pretty road-hard, but my A/C stayed frosty cold all summer, so that'll probably be the one thing I take it to the shop for, since I'd prefer not to inhale noxious fumes and make Captain Planet cry).

-new serpetine belts

-new power steering lines (except for the high pressure hoses, which I'll replace at a later time or the next flush) and reservoir

-new fuel pump and filter.

-aux fan delete with new drop-in electric fan. (the stupid fan tool is the most worthwhile $35 I've ever spent... we did my brother's car with wrenches and a giant screwdriver.. it took us over and hour and we broke his fan shroud, and almost broke my thumb).

-cleaned the manifold by soaking in purple power and replaced gaskets and cracked vacuum caps.

-replaced vanos o-rings, gaskets and seals.

-random other odds/ends that were broken/missing (like two of the bolts holding on the support plate behind the splash guard... kinda odd those weren't there)

So after I got everything all back together, I refilled the coolant with no problems but i absolutely CANNOT get the Power Steering Fluid to go into the system (I'm using Valvoline Full Synthetic Multivehicle Import ATF).

- First, I tried just filling the reservoir as directed in the many DIY's and expected to be able to be able to keep adding fluid until I turned the wheel to get the rest to drain in. Got in maybe a third of a quart, and the level just sat there, unchanging. Turned the wheel back and forth, lock to lock, taking 10 seconds between each side at least 40-50 times. The level went down maybe a quarter of an inch, and that's it.

- Cranked the engine to turn the PS pump. Nothing... then tried taking off the belt, spinning the pump to help coax the fluid down. Nothing.

- I Figured maybe there was a giant air bubble in the radiator that was stuck, so I pulled off the upper and lower return hoses, and used and hand pump to pump air first, then ATF through from the bottom nozzle to the top. No issues, the fluid went right through. When I hooked the hoses back up, still no movement. (btw, when I say no movement, I'm still turning the wheels side to side at least 10-15 full cycles every attempt, and absolutely no change in the fluid level in the reservoir, except for a gentle up-and-down when the wheels hit the lock)

- At this point, I read a couple posts somewhere and figured that maybe all the work and replacing hoses had loosened some old powdered rubber or some debris that was blocking the one-way valve in/near the pump. I emptied the reservoir and took off the hoses and lo-and-behold, the upper intake hose going down to the pump was bone-dry, not a drop. I made sure the issue wasn't with the actual reservoir/filter itself by pumping fluid in one hole and out the other, and figured I'd just funnel fluid into the hose itself to remove the reservoir from the equation, and still nothing. Spinning the pump (clockwise, and even counter-clock just to make sure), and turning the wheels still do nothing.

- My brother got the idea from a different post to see if we could at least get air through the system, so we hooked up a small air compressor to the upper intake hose (reservoir to pump), and sure enough, it blasted the remaining fluid out of the return hose, followed by air, so here's what I know as of now:

a) using gravity, the most ATF I can get into the power steering system is less than half a quart... and not nearly enough to fill the system. No one (not even the official BMW service manual, I guess because all our fluids are "lifetime" lol) seems to know the exact amount of fluid to add, but what I've gotten from reading - Doug's Domain, among others - is roughly two quarts is what you need.

b) despite the fear of ruining my power steering pump, I got frustrated and turned on the car on the ground long enough to try it out, and know that I have no steering boost (the wheel is real heavy), so there's no extra magical quart of fluid somehow hidden in the system.

c) fluid goes fine through my new radiator/cooler, so that's not the issue.

d) pressured air WILL go through the entire closed loop, from reservoir back to reservoir via compressor, so there's not a complete blockage anywhere in the system.

e) I even tried using a cheap harbor freight hand-pump to try to gently force fluid into the system (through the intake hose, in the correct flow direction) and all that happened is it pressurized, the crappy pump hose flew off the pump and for the 40th time, ATF splattered all over my face and part of my freshly-steam-cleaned engine bay.. awesome. (fortunately, I bagged by alternator and took off the belts just in case). That seems to suggest, to me anyway, that it's not just a stubborn air bubble somewhere, since pressurizing the fluid *should* force the air through.

f) I replaced the return hose banjo bolt/washers on the steering rack, and fluid seems to go nicely from this point up the return half and back to the reservoir. Fluid does NOT want to go from the reservoir down into the pump and into the steering rack. No amount of turning the wheels, cajoling or offering bribes or threats seems to work. Just to reiterate, I've replaced the entire system minus the actual pump and the banjo-bolt line going from the pump to the steering rack.

g) apparently ATF hates my car and does not want to go in, and hates me even more. It defies gravity at every turn and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I walked into the garage and it had spontaneously exploded all over the walls and written a profanity-laden message to me on the ceiling

h) just in case it helps, the pump pulley *does* turn rather freely in either direction with the belt off - not sure if that indicates a bad pump or what, but seeing as air goes right through, even if the pump is shot, I'd think that fluid oughta be able to snake through too. I've tried on many occasions turning the pulley by hand (and early, cranking the engine to turn it), with absolutely no change in the fluid level.

Right now, I'm almost completely stumped, and have spent two full days trying to solve this issue. At some later point, I hope to write a little thread of 101 Things I Learned as Newbie, with some helpful hints for people who are dumb like me and STILL screw stuff up despite great and very detailed DIYs.

Any and all suggestions/advice is appreciated, and I cannot express how glad I am for this awesome community. At some later point, I'm hoping to do some cosmetic mods (don't even have angel eyes yet), but before that, I'd like to get my car back on the road and get it ready to rock the next 100k miles.
hideousbacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Ads by Google

Guests, get your FREE E46Fanatics.com membership to remove this ad.
Old 10-03-2015, 09:53 AM   #2
Nicker
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: LI NY
Posts: 856
My Ride: 323ci
Looks like your pump isn't acting as it should be.

Why not replace the pump with the same type, so you don't have to get different hoses again, and be on your merry way?


When I redid my hoses, I'd fill the reservoir up as much as possible, then start the car, let the pump suck and push as much fluid through the system, make sure the reservoir is still full, turn the wheels lock-to-lock each way a couple times and usually the system is fine by then.
__________________

00' 323ci - 170hp
Nicker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 10:30 AM   #3
Stinger9
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 9,474
My Ride: '04 330Ci
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
Looks like your pump isn't acting as it should be.
+1
First big choice is your pump is not working. Think back, any reason to think you might have done something to it? Any anomaly?


Quote:
Originally Posted by hideousbacon View Post
I'm embarrassed to say this, but prior to owning this car, I'd never even changed my oil before and didn't know an ICV from a CCV from my own a--, so thanks to everyone on here - I've learned a ton from you guys.
This is exactly the way we don't want you to feel. We've all stood where you were with zero experience and had to ask beginner questions. The price for entry here is not that you need be experienced!

Welcome with your first post! We know in short order you'll be answering other's questions here too. Great start.
__________________
Stinger9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 10:58 AM   #4
hideousbacon
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 6
My Ride: 2005 e46 sedan
So easily-spinning PS pump pulley in both directions (with no belt) for sure means the pump is busted?

And if so, would the impellar completely block fluid, even under mild pressure, but let compressed air through the system?

- Other than tinkering around with the entire driver's side of the engine bay, I can't think of any point where I put torque on the PS pump pulley or hit it. I did run the car for a few minutes to test out the power steering assist/boost (which is not there), but the pulley itself would spin pretty freely before I ever turned on the engine. I find it a pretty odd coincidence that the pump would decide to die exactly during the couple weeks the car was on jacks while I was working, but I honestly cannot think of when/how I might have damaged it

Thanks for the welcome Stinger9, and you both (Nicker) for the input, and at this point, I'll probably invest in a new pump, since I've gutted nearly everything else in the system. I've read that it can be an issue as well with the steering rack as well, but the fluid did seem to drop slightly when I turned the wheels dozens of times. I was just shocked that the fluid wasn't even draining a single drop from the reservoir into the upper intake hose, and I'm guessing the level change in the reservoir when I'm turning the wheels is solely from the return side of the system (air and whatever fluid runs down the return side from the reservoir).
hideousbacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 11:56 AM   #5
markusmarkus
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 5,894
My Ride: 2001 330Ci
Quote:
Originally Posted by hideousbacon View Post
So easily-spinning PS pump pulley in both directions (with no belt) for sure means the pump is busted?

And if so, would the impellar completely block fluid, even under mild pressure, but let compressed air through the system?

- Other than tinkering around with the entire driver's side of the engine bay, I can't think of any point where I put torque on the PS pump pulley or hit it. I did run the car for a few minutes to test out the power steering assist/boost (which is not there), but the pulley itself would spin pretty freely before I ever turned on the engine. I find it a pretty odd coincidence that the pump would decide to die exactly during the couple weeks the car was on jacks while I was working, but I honestly cannot think of when/how I might have damaged it

Thanks for the welcome Stinger9, and you both (Nicker) for the input, and at this point, I'll probably invest in a new pump, since I've gutted nearly everything else in the system. I've read that it can be an issue as well with the steering rack as well, but the fluid did seem to drop slightly when I turned the wheels dozens of times. I was just shocked that the fluid wasn't even draining a single drop from the reservoir into the upper intake hose, and I'm guessing the level change in the reservoir when I'm turning the wheels is solely from the return side of the system (air and whatever fluid runs down the return side from the reservoir).
I think your pump is shot. But, before springing for a new pump, check the condition of the 2 rubber hoses that are connected to the reservoir. They can collapse and prevent flow. Yes, you'll have to drain the reservoir but from your opening post it sounds like you're pretty handy with the wrenches. If they are fine, then I'd check for a restriction in the system, perhaps at the PSF cooler.
markusmarkus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 12:26 PM   #6
hideousbacon
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 6
My Ride: 2005 e46 sedan
Quote:
Originally Posted by markusmarkus View Post
I think your pump is shot. But, before springing for a new pump, check the condition of the 2 rubber hoses that are connected to the reservoir. They can collapse and prevent flow.
Could be the pump, I'm starting to think you're probably right about that, given I've trouble shot a lot of the other stuff. Those two reservoir hoses are new and independently pass fluid just fine.. Just stop working once they're hooked up below. Another possible point of failure would be the check valve in one of the banjo bolts on the steering rack (the 19mm one going up to the pump, not the 22mm one below it that goes to the cooler), but my brother said he checked it, cleaned and reattached it w/no improvement in fluid. I already flushed psf thru the cooler with a hand pump, so that can't be the problem. Unless there's some magical solution myself or anyone thinks of, I'm probably down 300 bucks and in for a new psf pump.

The thing that baffles me still is that the pump would selectively block psf but not air under pressure. Unless there's like a giant bubble of air with the density of a dying star, I can't really sort that one out.

Thanks for all the input.
hideousbacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 12:35 PM   #7
Stinger9
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 9,474
My Ride: '04 330Ci
Quote:
Originally Posted by hideousbacon View Post
So easily-spinning PS pump pulley in both directions (with no belt) for sure means the pump is busted?
try to just pull the PS pump shaft directly out!
They fail by shearing the shaft.
__________________
Stinger9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 12:57 PM   #8
jmo69
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 2,327
My Ride: 03 325xi 98 328is
I've only replaced the pressure line on my system, but is it possible that you reversed hoses from the reservoir? Just a stab in the dark.
jmo69 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 01:20 PM   #9
hideousbacon
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 6
My Ride: 2005 e46 sedan
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmo69 View Post
I've only replaced the pressure line on my system, but is it possible that you reversed hoses from the reservoir? Just a stab in the dark.
Nope, they're on right.. Realoem verified and the hoses are significantly different diameters


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinger9 View Post
try to just pull the PS pump shaft directly out!
They fail by shearing the shaft.
Good suggestion.. Gave it a nice tug and it didn't budge

If it's not the pump, there's absolutely gotta be a blockage somewhere that'll let thru pressurized air but not fluid. Really strange.
hideousbacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 03:41 PM   #10
tony
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 1970
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 74
My Ride: '04 325i, '11 335i
Sorry if I missed it. Didn't really want to read the whole thing. Are you turning the steering wheel lock to lock while you're filling?
tony is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2015, 04:11 PM   #11
tommy d
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
Posts: 334
My Ride: 2005 330i
He did.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hideousbacon View Post
Turned the wheel back and forth, lock to lock, taking 10 seconds between each side at least 40-50 times. The level went down maybe a quarter of an inch, and that's it.
__________________
Current Vehicles in my stable:
2005 BMW 330i - 126K miles
2005 Mazda Tribute s - 117K miles
1998 Ford Taurus SE - 115K miles
1987 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 - 248K miles
tommy d is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-06-2015, 12:59 PM   #12
hideousbacon
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 6
My Ride: 2005 e46 sedan
Quote:
Originally Posted by tommy d View Post
He did.
Haha thanks tommy.

And finally, SUCCESS! At least good enough, anyway... my car is now driving, WITH steering boost, although I'm definitely gonna stash some ATF/PSF in the trunk in case it starts to fail. And sorry for writing a novel above - was trying to be thorough.

Here's what (kinda) worked:

- Disconnected the high pressure hose from the rack, and took out the banjo bolt, which has a spring-loaded check valve (valve looked totally fine, can't see how it was any less functional than it should be - not sticky, not corroded, no blockage). Therefore, check-valve isn't the issue.

- With high pressure hose wide open at the bottom, drained PSF from reservoir all the way through intake side, spinning pump. At this point, pump may be broken, but it's definitely not blocking the flow of fluid.

- Finagled a crappy hand pump hose into the intake opening of the steering rack (using some brass plumbing fittings left over from a smoke machine project)

- Blocked off reservoir intake hose to PS-pump (with the red cap that came with the new hose) - so reservoir is empty, and only connected to return side.

- Pumped PSF into the rack intake with crappy hand pump, turning the wheels back and forth dozens of times until emptied reservoir filled up.

- This took in about 24-ish oz PSF, but I could still hear it sloshing back and forth in the steering rack, which suggests to me that there was still some air in the rack. --> Return side of system was now full, and steering rack has sketchy, unknown amount of fluid in it, but no amount of turning wheels will lower fluid level in reservoir.

- Tried both slowly turning the wheel lock to lock, and then rapidly pushing tire to try to shove air out (got this idea from another thread somewhere)... there were some air bubbles that came up into the reservoir, but only maybe added a few oz. PSF into the rack.

- Plugged the rack intake hole with a finger while my brother reconnected the intake hose from reservoir to PS-pump and spun the pulley to fill up intake side of system.

- Took a nice shower in PSF and reconnected high pressure hose w/check-valve banjo bolt while fluid drained through intake side of the system.

- Now, return side AND intake side were full, hopefully PS-pump had as much fluid in it as we could get, from turning pulley, and still unknown amount in steering rack.

- Topped off the reservoir for a total of slightly over a quart.

- Cleaned up the engine, pulleys, etc. from all PSF with brake cleaner and put belt back on.

- Ran engine for about 10 minutes, turning wheel again, both slowly and rapidly. This got a few more air bubbles to come out and maybe a couple more oz. Heard a few weird noises from time to time, but nothing too crazy. No groaning from the rack itself, just engine taking load on/off. Could also see the PSF slowly circulating in the reservoir by looking closely at particles on the surface.

- At this point, still knowing that I had added far less than a total of 2 quarts, I figured I'd take my car for a drive and see if I had boost. If not, I was ready to order a new pump, replace the high pressure hose, check valve in banjo bolt, and the hardline pipes on the rack itself.

- Car drove fine, WITH boost for several miles. Opened it up and noticed a nice zip from the new vanos and other components. Only code it's thrown is p0444, which I'll address later this week... nothing to do with steering.


My Conclusions:

- I didn't know this when I first started, but the PSF flush actually drains and refills the system primarily through the return line. Gravity is not strong enough to push the PSF past the check-valve in the banjo bolt on the rack end of the high pressure hose going down from the pump. We pumped both air and fluid directly from hand pump through the check valve, which worked fine, but gravity alone cannot do this - at least on my e46's check valve.

- Pump appears to function perfectly well - I'm pretty positive I wouldn't have boost in my steering if it wasn't working. We tried yanking the pump pretty hard with the belt off, and it definitely wasn't budging, which means it's not sheared off - the most common failure point.

What still confuses me:

- Doug's Domain and various other diy PS flushes say you need at least two quarts of ATF/PSF. Since BMW has no official spec on this amount, that's what I was going off of, and I'm still pretty sure we drained most of the fluid out of the steering rack, so I don't know why, but I cannot get any more fluid to go in than slightly more than one quart. After driving for a little while and then again the next day, the level in the reservoir has not changed at all, so this volume appears to be enough, even though people say it's not.

- I still have no idea why my PS system didn't flush effortlessly like 99.9% of everyone else when they try this diy. Seems like my rack had some really stubborn air bubbles that refused to come out, even despite turning the wheels and pumping PSF through with a hand-pump.


*** Thanks for reading, and thanks to those who had advice/suggestions. I'm just glad that I didn't have to spring for a new pump and pressure hose. Next time I flush the power steering, I'll probably replace them just for kicks (already did the water pump, and mine was still working fine).

If anything changes, I'll add on and document, in case anyone else ever has issues, but I'm glad I hopefully won't have to clean up any more ATF for a while... at least until I flush the tranny this afternoon :/
hideousbacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
flush, issue, power steering, problem

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Censor is ON





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:41 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
(c) 1999 - 2016 performanceIX Inc - privacy policy - terms of use