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Old 04-04-2013, 04:46 PM   #1
Fhantom99
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Exclamation Power Steering Issues

I own a 2006 E46 330Ci w/ 108,000mi and I need help diagnosing a problem with my power steering.

I replaced the 4 power steering hoses, the two washers on the two banjo bolts, secured all hoses with adjustable hose clamps, swapped the plastic pulley on the Luk-20 pump for an aluminum one, and swapped the plastic ZF reservoir for an AllGermanAuto aluminum reservoir. I then did a proper flush using Castrol ATF Merc/Dex, which according to Castrol is Dex III.

I test drove the car (3mi loop) and the power steering worked fine. The next day I was doing errands and by 3pm I had no power steering. There is no groaning noise, which is a tell-tale sign of a failing pump. I put the car on jack stands and dropped the lower engine protector. No leaks or signs of ATF anywhere. I took off the drive belt and checked to see if the shaft on the pump had sheared. When I pulled on the pump shaft, it didn't budge. Spinning the pump pulley was smooth; no noises or grinding. After replacing the belt, I then turned over the engine and cycled the steering wheel back and forth about 20 times. Again, no distinct or discrete noises. I then went to the reservoir. I sucked all the fluid out less a millimeter. I put my finger in the line to the pump. I could feel suction on my finger, not so much that I couldn't pull my finger out, but enough to see the fluid was draining at a rate of .25 inch per second.

So what's the deal? I've checked here and the other BMW forums for anything similar and no joy. I'm stumped!

Please let me know what your thoughts are. I appreciate your feedback!
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:32 PM   #2
BMWCaptain
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Nice reservoir!

Check your steering rack to see if the boots are filling up with fluid. If you have a leaking rack, it could be going there.
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:31 PM   #3
lszlszx
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^ Or maybe there was still some air in the system and needed more fluid.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:22 PM   #4
Fhantom99
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@BMWCaptain - I checked the boots and they are not filling up with fluid

@lszlszx - Air could be a culprit. Is there an easy way to purge the air out of the system?

Martin Christensen, of AllGermanAuto, told me it could be the pump as it's not producing enough pressure. He also suggested it could be a check valve in the rack. I'm still dumbfounded by this problem.

Thanks for your speedy replies.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:31 PM   #5
lszlszx
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You usually get the air out by simply slowly turning the steering wheel all the way one side to another a few times. P/S pumps usually last very long time, but anything is possible. Double check how you hooked the hoses up, also.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:44 PM   #6
04330ciZHP
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Get some to bring up the rpm's and look in the resrivor to see if the fluid is moving. It should move faster as the engine speed increases. If its not moving or is very slow the pump is bad.

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Old 04-04-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
Fhantom99
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@lszlszx - I turned the wheels left/right a couple dozen times. I would think the air would be purged. You're not the first to tell me P/S should last a long time. I'm going to double check the hoses.

@04330ciZHP - Your comment is in line with Martin Christensen from AGA; however, Martin said the fluid should be moving vigorously, even at idle. I'm getting little fluid movement, which may suggest blockage (even though I did my best not to introduce any contaminates). I find the pump going bad a strange coincidence.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:16 PM   #8
04330ciZHP
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Its possible the pump was weak then when you replaced the lines at first start it ran low on fluid from the air in the system. That may have been enough to cause it to fail.

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Old 04-05-2013, 01:11 AM   #9
MJLavelle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhantom99 View Post
@lszlszx - I turned the wheels left/right a couple dozen times. I would think the air would be purged. You're not the first to tell me P/S should last a long time. I'm going to double check the hoses.

@04330ciZHP - Your comment is in line with Martin Christensen from AGA; however, Martin said the fluid should be moving vigorously, even at idle. I'm getting little fluid movement, which may suggest blockage (even though I did my best not to introduce any contaminates). I find the pump going bad a strange coincidence.
MOST power steering pumps going bad is unusual. A LUK LF-20 going bad is not that unusual. I have a moaning, groaning one on my car right now. I also replaced the one on my prior e46.
They supposedly redesigned it, to cure some of the problems, like the shaft shearing off.
The one I replaced certainly did seem to be redesigned, as does the one I have waiting to go on my current car. I was assured by the sellers that they were redesigned versions as well.
I believe your pump is dying, particularly if you were losing fluid. You can replace it with an upgraded LF-20, or go up to a LF-30. I found that a new LF-20 was cheaper than a rebuilt LF-30, so I went with the new LF-20. I know it is good for at least 9 years, and that was the old version. So, I am comfortable with using a new, redesigned LF-20. Besides, if you go up to a LF-30, then you have to replace some hoses. Since you just bought new hoses, then an LF-30 change does not make much sense.

Now, tell me where you got that reservoir! I like it!

Last edited by MJLavelle; 04-05-2013 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:30 PM   #10
Fhantom99
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@04330ciZHP - Having a conversation with my brother-in-law (a MASSIVE Bimmer enthusiast and car genius) said I may have to "prime the pump". In short, bring the RPMs up high enough to force fluid through the system. He and you are spot on! I took Heidi out (every good car needs a good name) and drove her for a few minutes between 4,000 - 5,000 RPM. That did the trick! When I did the flush, I ran the engine at idle. So lesson learned: Flush system @ high (enough) RPMs to force air out.

@MJLavelle - Thank God my pump isn't dead (see above and knock on wood). I got the reservoir from All German Auto from Martin Christensen. He's a great guy. Go to their website, then "Products", then look for the billeted aluminum reservoir ($289). Additionally, watch their video. You can find it cheaper at BMP Design ($275). Selling points: keeps the system ~50 deg F cooler (less stress on the entire P/S system) & removable filter.

Thanks to everyone for your insight! I appreciate all your help!
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Old 04-07-2013, 01:30 AM   #11
MJLavelle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhantom99 View Post
@04330ciZHP - Having a conversation with my brother-in-law (a MASSIVE Bimmer enthusiast and car genius) said I may have to "prime the pump". In short, bring the RPMs up high enough to force fluid through the system. He and you are spot on! I took Heidi out (every good car needs a good name) and drove her for a few minutes between 4,000 - 5,000 RPM. That did the trick! When I did the flush, I ran the engine at idle. So lesson learned: Flush system @ high (enough) RPMs to force air out.

@MJLavelle - Thank God my pump isn't dead (see above and knock on wood). I got the reservoir from All German Auto from Martin Christensen. He's a great guy. Go to their website, then "Products", then look for the billeted aluminum reservoir ($289). Additionally, watch their video. You can find it cheaper at BMP Design ($275). Selling points: keeps the system ~50 deg F cooler (less stress on the entire P/S system) & removable filter.

Thanks to everyone for your insight! I appreciate all your help!
I hope I am wrong about the pump failure, and it seems like I may be. But the original LF-20's do have design issues. I'm glad you dodged a bullet though.
Now that I think about it, when I replaced my pump on my previous e46, I disconnected the return line, and placed a bucket under it, and started the car, and had my wife rev it to about 4k rpm, and I poured fluid in the reservoir as it ran low, and just ran about 2 quarts through the system, to flush it out. It was just something I guessed at, but it seemed to have cleared the system, and primed the pump.
I know it is rare to deal with a PS pump failing, and the only time I have ever had to change one is on a BMW.

I just have one big question about that reservoir. Does it stay dry on the outside, or does it spit out fluid like the OEM one? If it stays dry, I may just spend the money for one. I know a lot of people think things like that are overkill, but I love overkill.
That is why I have a Stewart water pump, in spite of so many people saying that you don't need it, because the OEM pumps are good for 60-80k miles. I prefer "it's good until the body rusts off of the car".
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Old 04-11-2013, 03:28 AM   #12
Fhantom99
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@MJLavelle - I'm glad the pump didn't fail. Heidi is still running strong. The power steering actually feels "lighter"; maybe because without the power steering my forearms got stronger? Probably not. As far as the reservoir staying dry, it may leak with spirited driving (I haven't taken Heidi to the track yet); HOWEVER, AGA sells a tube that runs down the engine bay out of harms way so ATF doesn't leak on the alternator or belts, if you're that concerned. In conjunction with the P/S refresh, I also renewed my cooling system (radiator, hoses (3), thermostat, pump, metal pulleys, belts, expansion tank, and brass bleeder screw) and went with a Stewart Pump. Attached are some pictures.

More about the metal reservoir can be found here: http://www.allgermanauto.com/product...reservoir.html
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