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Old 12-19-2012, 08:35 PM   #1
tatboy
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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My Ride: '02 BMW 325ci
I need help with my Power Steering !!

Hello all

I've owned a few BMW's and currently have a 2002 E46 325ci with about 90K miles on it. Manufacture date 09/01 but it has the LF30 Power Steering pump and correct high pressure hose.

One day last week, I pulled into my driveway and noticed my steering was very tough to turn at slow speeds (1-5 mph). It has been getting progressivly worse over a few days time.

After inspecting the usual culprits such as the power steering belt mishap, or a blown hose - I immediately suspected the Power Steering Pump, and replaced it even though the shaft was intact. It's the LF30 style with the stronger shaft and higher pressure. But this did NOT remedy my problem, and STILL no circulation in the PS reservoir. I was perplexed. I pulled off the high pressure hose leading from the PS Pump to the rack and flushed it out properly, then reinstalled. STILL no circulation in the PS reservoir, and STILL my steering was very tough. I then made the assumption that my rack may have failed internally either due to a clogged Power Steering hose (of which there are 3 total), or a clog or damaged internal component in the rack system.

I purchased the car about a year ago, and never knew to put transmission fluid into the reservoir. The previous owner appeared to use power steering fluid (which I now know is not correct), as the fluid was not red in color like Dextron 3 is. It's my understanding that running conventional power steering fluid thru the rack & pinion, could cause failure - although im not sure of the dynamics of why. But keeping that in mind for the purpose of diagnosing my problem, I thought it was a valid point to bring up.

So right now, im halfway thru installing a new Rack & Pinion, as well as new tie rod ends for good measure. The new Power steering pump has been on the car for a few days, while i waited for the Rack & Pinion to arrive. Tomorrow I plan to finish the R&P install, but wanted to remove those stinkin upper and lower PS hoses that connect to the Power Steering Cooler, but dont want to manhandle them to the point of cracking the plastic or worse!

Can someone try to verbally explain the mechanism of removing both the Top and Bottom hose fittings that connect to the Power Steering Cooler? Im in the process of replacing my PS pump and installing a rebuilt Rack & Pinion. Having no "circulation flow" within my reservoir (even after installing a new PUMP), has me concerned that one of these 2 hoses has failed internally or is clogged. Any advice or help is greatly appreciated.

Also, Is it possible that there is a clog within the Power Steering Cooler itself? My main concern is that after installing a BRAND NEW power steering pump (with the old rack in place), there was still no circulation inside the reservoir (even after removing 50% of the fluid to check). I also installed a BRAND NEW reservoir which of course rules out blockage of the internal filter.

Im at a loss of words for what could be causing my tight steering issue. I cant barely turn the wheel without struggling. It's not a smoothe stable struggle either - it's erratic like some parts are harder to go thru its range of motion, and the steering wheel fails to return back to center without struggling.

My steering column components appear within normal limits. The shaft's telescopic setup appears to be working and the "guibo" appears in relative decent shape (i believe this merely controls the side to side wiggle room of the wheel right?)

My tire pressure is ok. My lower ball joints I replaced about 8 months ago, and like I said, I'm in the process of installing a new rack and outer tie rod ends tomorrow - but fear I'll be stuck with the same HARD STEERING issue. How many things could this be, right?

Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks !

Last edited by tatboy; 12-19-2012 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:54 PM   #2
tatboy
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I just installed a new rack & bled system ....

In case anyone cares, I'm the guy with the terribly hard steering issue and am trying to self diagnose the problem via process of elimination.

After installing a new power steering pump and flushing out the old rack & pinion (using the far left/right steering bleed maneuvers, allowing air bubbles to bleed out while adding fresh ATF fluid).

Well, that didnt fix my issue so..

Today I installed a new (rebuilt) rack & pinion (OEM - original BMW factory rack matched mine perfectly) - purchased from Advanced Automotive.

I had no helper so did the entire job solo.

I also installed new Moog outer tie rod ends, even though the old ones seemed to be in decent shape. I figured, for $40 total, it was worth just doing it while i had the rack down.

I ran into some issues removing the old rack. Everything was going smoothly (even removing the pinch bolt from the steering gear) ** you will need an E8 or E10 star socket to get the bolt off then pull the rack down towards you until it slides off the female adaptor **.

I ran into issues removing the two bolts that hold the rack onto the frame. There was a steel underplate that was about 1/8th of an inch in the way from those two bolts being able to be dropped. I tried to maneuver the rack back and forth after disconnecting the spline from the steering gear, but that thin steel underplate was still in the way so i had to hammer/pry back the small regions where the bolts were, so there would be enough clearance to remove them.

The first step (and a very important one), is to LOCK the steering wheel in the dead center position with the wheels facing straight.

Once removed, the old rack was placed next to the new one, and i went through the process of measuring the old tie rod end length and counting the number of turns it took to remove them from the old rack. I duplicated this process with the new tie rods, on the new rack and had everything lined up for the install.

Bolting on a new rack, solo, sure has it's challenges - laying under the vehicle lifting it into position while trying to line up the upper spline into the female steering coupling. There is a plastic guide piece that slips over the rack spline (the gear at the top of the rack - maybe its the actual pinion?). Anyway, this plastic guide piece DOES NOT come with a rebuilt rack so you have to use the old one. *REMINDER*, never turn in your core until AFTER you robbed all the parts from it that you may need due to the new rack not coming with them!!

So after painstakingly lining up the pinion gear/spline with the steering coupling and tightening the star bolt, the rest of the job was pretty easy.

My issue was that I was trying to rule out a bad power steering pump and rack system, as the culprit for my "hard steering" issue. I also felt that perhaps some of my power steering hydraulic hoses may have been faulty and/or clogged.

I took each one off and after cleaning the ends, blew through them and sprayed fast drying brake cleaner thru them, shook it around and blew all the brake cleaner out (yes by mouth. I have no compressor and will probably end up with mouth cancer - lol).

So after ruling out clogged power steering hydraulic lines, as the issue, I installed them all back into place and meticulously bled the rack by filling the reservoir with new Dextron 3 ATF, clicking the ignition for just a second multiple times to get the pump to prime and fill the rack. After many ignition primes, I filled the reservoir again and started the engine while "slowly" rotating the steering wheel to the extremes of left, then the extremes of right. I did this about 8-10X, frequently rechecking fluid levels in the reservoir and topping it off.

Unfortunately after doing all of this, my issue with the "hard steering" was only about 50% fixed. It was a little LESS DIFFICULT to turn the wheel, then with the previous rack, but I can tell the issue was still present.

I took the vehicle for a test drive for about 3 miles, went to a parking lot and did multiple tight full circle turns in both directions. Then pulled over to check the fluid reservoir for signs of fluid discoloration and leaks at any of the power steering connections. The fuid was more cloudy and a little brownish looking, so I drove home and performed the flush procedure multiple times (using 1/2 a gallon of ATF) to finally get it all nice and clear red color with no cloudiness. There was no air left in the system.

My steering issue is PARTIALLY resolved, but the MAIN ISSUE is that after making a slow speed turn, the steering wheel DOES NOT attempt to come back to center and I have to fight with it to make it happen.

Is anyone here aware of what other "part" I may have to look into to replace?

The steering "guibo" I looked at and it appears to be in relatively decent shape.

What is the mechanism that "assists" the steering rack/steering wheel into helping the steering wheel come back to center after a turn?

Due to measuring my tie rod lengths and keeping the steering wheel straight during the procedure, my front end alignment appears to be as straight as an arrow. I drove 50mph down the highway and let go of the wheel and the car didnt sway one bit, but I do intend on having an alignment once i figure out wtf this steering issue is all about.

I hope one of you can help me isolate the main cause. Im new to the forum and would appreciate any suggestions you all may have!

My vehicle is a 2002 325ci manufactured date of 09/01

Thanks!
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:13 PM   #3
lcoleman
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Save a massively binding strut, I can't think of anything that would cause a lack of centering except an alignment issue. There is no "assist" outside the power steering pump itself. I would try bleeding the system again.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:39 PM   #4
tatboy
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Bleeding the system again?

I just came in from bleeding it for the 4th time.

When I say "4th", I mean each bleeding cycle consists of 2 reservoirs worth of fresh Dextron 3, cycling the rack back and forth 8-10X each re-fill.

I've done this a total of 4x over the span of the last 3 hours.

So all I've been doing is bleeding the system.

My reservoir is crystal clear candy apple red. I can even see the internal reservoir filter in my brand new reservoir.

Would you happen to know what type of turbulant stream of fluid activity should ideally be flowing within the reservoir? When I open the lid and shine a flashlight thru the fluid, I can see micro dust particles slowly circulating within the fluid. Very very slow, like what you'd see in a fish tank with slow moving flow.

My old power steering pump produced the same type of "barely any movement" flow within the reservoir, so i felt i either had a clogged Power Steering Hose or the pump itself was bad.

So i replaced the pump a few days ago with a remanufactured LF30.

New Pump, New Rack, flushed out all my power steering lines and hoses, no leaks anyplace.

You mentioned a binding STRUT.

BMW's have an unusual strut assembly thats part of the steering mechanism, although I havent really looked into that as being the cause of my steering wheel not returning back to center after turns.

I'm going to have to now look into that. Any suggestions on now to tell if one is bad or going bad? I know about conventional struts. You take em off and press on the rod and if it doesnt come back out, it's shot. Not sure how to diagnose a bad one on a Bimmer.

Thank you for your suggestion and any further advice you may be able to provide!
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Old 12-21-2012, 06:29 AM   #5
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The failing to return to center does sound like it'd be an alignment issue. Even though your car is going straight, it could be going straight with really bad alignment.

When you've been bleeding, it sounds like you're adding fluid...but are you then taking it out, or is it going somewhere? If so, the reservoir only holds about 2-300 mls of fluid...not sure of total capacity. Also, are you turning the wheels while off the ground, or while driving and turning (not that I know this makes a difference).

If you haven't checked your belts and tensioner, I'd do that. Have you been noticing any weird electric issues too? I'm thinking bad tensioner, dried belts, both, or maybe, just maybe, a bad routing of the belt (you wouldn't be the first).

Otherwise, one thing to consider is whether the parts you got are good...sorry...real sorry...but I think you know that there are some small odds of this too. You're assuming pump is good because it's new...replaced the rack (also assumed to be good).

I don't recall, but when the lines were off, you checked them all to see that they're clear? No kinks, air flows through the hoses?

GL...hth...and a bump for you!
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Old 12-21-2012, 12:24 PM   #6
tatboy
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The hard steering and failure of the steering wheel/steering components to return to centerline are THEE reasons that led me to suspect a bad rack & pinion.

I changed out the Power Steering pump and performed a manual line test whereby I disconnected the hydraulic line from the pump to the rack, removed the belt to the pump and manually turned the pump to witness fluid being pumped to the rack and out of the end of the hose into a bucket.

Then I replaced the entire rack & pinion (and outer tie rod ends) then flushed out all the power steering lines (manually with brake cleaner and blew through all the lines assuring me they were in fact clear).

I reinstalled all the lines then bled the system.

In answer to your question, yes I removed as much of the old Power Steering ATF fluid from the reservoir with a turkey baster, then added new fluid; got in the car; started it and cycled the rack from hard left to hard right 8-10x.

I did the above procedure a total of 4x (removing older fluid and replacing it with new until virtually all the fluid was NEW).

The procedure was performed 3x with the vehicle on jackstands and an ADDITIONAL 4x with the vehicle dropped.

I also drove the vehicle for 3-4 miles, stopped in parking lots and did very slow hard left and right turns bringing the rack through its full ranges of motion - pulled over and re checked the fluid level in reservoir. Not a leak detected.

The vehicle sat overnight with a white piece of cardboard beneath the engine bay. Not a single leak detected.

Someone told me it's possible it could be the upper strut mount bearing(s) being stuck, but I havent checked those yet. When I had the outer tie rods off and the vehicle up on jack stands, the entire wheel assembly turned back and forth fairly easy (which makes me think the bearings of the strut were ok), but perhaps they bind up once the weight of the vehicle is placed upon them.

Im bringing the car into get an alignment RIGHT NOW, and will see if they can diagnose this most mysterious issue.

Thak you all for your assistance and feel free to leave more ideas of what may be causing my issue!
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:09 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure there is an adjustment bolt on the rack that will help with the centering problem.
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:40 PM   #8
tatboy
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The "centering" problem I'm referring to ISNT a misalignment issue.

It has to do with the steering wheel/steering column FAILING to get power assist in returning back to center when coming out of a hard right or left turn.

In other words, the steering wheel/column remains in the turned position and I have to "strong arm" it back to center.

I spent 4 hours at the Tire Place that sold me a "Lifetime Alignment" policy. They are obviously NOT knowlegeable enough about the BMW power steering system.

Upon entering the shop, I explained that I've had this "difficult steering" issue for a couple of weeks, and had been ruling out one component at a time, starting with the Power Steering Pump, new reservoir and filter, clearing all steering lines of blockages, then finally replacing the entire Rack & Pinion and new outer tie rod ends.

The shop mechanic tried to tell me that "maybe" I installed the new rack uncentered and then went on to try to show me that the left wheel turned further than the right wheel. My vehicle was on a lift that had left and right side height adjustments. The mechanic had the RIGHT platform 1/2" an inch higher, preventing the right wheel to turn thru its normal range of motion. ( i knew IMMEDIATELY these guys were pulling every trick they knew to sell me a rack). I called them out on it and made them straighten out their lift platform so both sides were equal, then ofcourse both wheels tracked perfectly even. My rack inner and outer tie rod ends were precisely measured for equality in relation to the old rack and tie rod ends. And i had my steering wheel locked in the straight position throughout the entire rack install, so everything was put on correct and aligned to the best of my ability.

I told them to just align the tires and I left and went to McDonalds. I came back a half hour later and my car was done (if they even did it). The car ran perfectly straight on my half hour drive TO the shop, and it ran perfectly straight on my way back home FROM the shop. Any adjustments they made (if they did the job) were minor.

The car appeared to drive slightly better, and the "hard steering" was slightly looser. While driving home, I said to myself "maybe because everything is so new, it needs to be road tested to loosen things up a bit. So I got off the highway and went down some bumpy streets, and stopped and bled the rack again left to right 8-10% while revving the engine to get the pump to spit a higher volume of fluid thru the rack with hopes of blowing out any remaining air trapped.

By the time I got home, I saw that ATF fluid had shot out of the reservoir overflow onto my engine (signaling that the high revving must have blew out more air along with fluid.

There is a "U-Joint" way up top on the steering column, about 6 or so inches above the steering "guibo". You cant reach it by hand without taking a bunch of stuff off the engine. I figured that if that U-Joint was sticking (due to rust or age, or lack of grease - if there is a grease point), that IT may be causing my issue.

I got under the vehicle and sprayed a stream of PB Blaster onto the joint, then did the same from above and immediately rotated the steering wheel back and forth for 5-10 minutes. I sprayed a few times from various angles and the steering column appeared more "Free flowing" with less restrictions and roughness when turning the steering wheel thru its range of motion.

The U Joint area, and the steering guibo, as well as the pinion shaft are all bolted to their corresponding mate. The PB Blaster appeared to free up these moving joint areas and Im noticing that the "hard steering" issue appears to be lessened after test driving the vehicle.

This leads me to believe that I may need to look into full replacement of this U-Joint and possibly the steering guibo/coupler (even though ALL OF THEM look perfectly fine).

So thats where I am with all of this, presently.

Im going to continue to drive the vehicle and do the air bleed method every time i get in the car, for a few days and hopefully this issue will slowly rectify itself.

We shall see !
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Old 12-25-2012, 03:53 PM   #9
tatboy
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So far after replacing the Power Steering pump and Rack & Pinion Install, then having the front end aligned - - my issue only partially resolved itself.

Not until I came home and decided to spray the telescoping steering linkage,the attached U-joint, as well as the intermediate coupler ("guibo") with PB BLASTER lubricant and turning the steering wheel from left lock to right lock about 20 - 30x, did my issue appear to begin to rectify itself. My steering column is the one photo'd on the right side of the diagram in this link:

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30

Now, I had already bled the rack & pinion so many times that I cant count (days worth, each time i started it ; each time i pulled over; many times before going to sleep at night etc) - so im confident the issue wasnt trapped air in the system.

I feel that the issue was the U-joint on the steering shaft itself. Not sure if these U-joints can or should be "greased" or lubricated, but clearly mine must have been too tight, and the PB BLASTER lubricant soaking free'd it up a little. Now my steering is better and the steering wheel actually comes back to center a bit more easy and I no longer need to "Strong Arm" pull it back like i had to before.

The steering "guibo" I took a long and hard look at when i was installing the new rack & pinion. It seems as if its two pieces of steel sandwiched by a rubber bushing. My "guibo" appeared to be in good shape. No cracks, tears, or issues - so I wasnt sure what reason I'd have to replace it. I was under the impression that the steering guibo issue concerned "loose steering" issues. ie: turning the steering wheel a couple of inches BEFORE the actual tires begin to respond. Being that wasnt my issue, I discounted the "guibo" as being the culprit for my "hard steering" issue.

A good soaking of the entire steering column with PB Blaster seems to be working. In the event that my issue once again begins to worsen, then I'm DEFINITELY going to order the telescoping shaft with U-joint, as well as the "guibo" coupler. Hell, there isnt anything else left to replace right !!???

I have other issues wrong with my 325ic (the convertible top appears to have broken on me when i was in "mid lift" a few months ago). I pulled off the rear seats and did the "quick fix" on the gear that locks the top into the windshield area (which wasnt the issue, but i fixed it anyway). I checked the convertible top motor in the trunk, and it tested fine as well. Im praying that one of my lifting cables just snapped off, but i need an assistant to hold the button in while i attempt to diagnose the problem.

Have an enjoyable Holiday everyone !
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Old 12-25-2012, 05:18 PM   #10
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Whoa, you've done so much already without the reward of a fix for your steering!
I might have done exactly all you've already done so far and been perplexed as to know what more to do.
You say your struts worked freely when you had them disconnected. I might have suggested that because I had your problem years ago when a shop reinstalled my struts in the wrong order and they developed a 'sticking'. Cured that and my problem went away. So have your struts been worked on at all before? How long have you had the car where it worked OK?

My only other thought for now is to ask ourselves if there is a bearing up in the steering column that is failing and sticking? Did you try to turn the steering wheel when you had the rack out?
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:45 PM   #11
tatboy
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Hi Stinger9

My issue DOES appear to be "fixed", as I havent had the issue of having to "strong arm" the steering wheel back to centerline after making a turn.

I did all the obvious things first.

When I noticed there was little to no "circulation" within the Power Steering Reservoir, I assumed it was either a clogged filter within the reservoir. So i replaced the entire unit ($21 - no big deal). Once replaced, I flushed the entire steering system with new ATF fluid. I still didnt "see" any circulation within the reservoir, so I ordered and replaced the power steering pump. Once installed, I bled the system again and STILLLLLL no circulation in the power steering reservoir. I figured maybe there must be an obstruction within the hydraulic lines, or worse case scenario, within the rack itself. So i blew out all the lines, then re-bled the system and NO DICE. So i orered a new Rack & Pinion and installed that, followed by a bunch of bleed sessions.

STILLLLLLLLLLLLLL no circulation in the power steering reservoir !!

I drove it to the alignment place and they tried to tell me i had a bad power steering pump or a bad rack or BOTH.

Morons...

I mean, it's POSSIBLE yes, but not BOTH the pump and the rack. I made them do the front end alignment anyway (as it was free because i have a lifetime alignment policy).

While the vehicle was up on the rack, they removed my outer tie rod ends and swung out the steering knuckle. The struts appeared to be free. I asked it perhaps it was a stuck or sticking TOP STRUT BEARING. They called me over to look and we rotated the struts and they were nice and free. All the control arm bushings were in great shape also.

The mechanics ofcourse are there to make money and replace parts that dont need replacing right? But I was watching them like a hawk and they knew I WAS THE ONE that did the repairs and i was meticulous about each step I performed.

They didnt know what else to say so they said "well if it's not your rack, then it must be something in the steering column - one of those joints up top, and we dont have the time to figure it out. Bring it to the dealer or a BMW specialist"

Well, I said to myself "Every single steering component that can be replaced (except the ujoint and guibo), HAS BEEN REPLACED. And if the role of the "guibo" is to control steering wheel play (which wasnt my issue), then process of elimination told me it had to be the U-joint thats above the telescopic portion of the steering column closest to the firewall. It's a b*tch to reach by hand without taking off the entire rack assembly so as to fit your arm way up there to unscrew the torx bolts. So I figured let me just spray this Miracle PB Blaster lubricant up there and soak the joint.

In answer to your question, the "bearing" that you refer to as being up the steering column, is that U-joint. Above that, then we're INSIDE the car within the steering column itself. I have no idea what's within that as i havent ventured that far into this. Also, in answer to your question of "Did I try to turn the steering wheel when I had the rack out" - YES I DID and it turned very free, but thats because there was no weight bearing load on the shaft. There was no resistance. When I did the rack re-install, i had to get the steering wheel back to perfect center, then LOCK it into place. The next step was to CENTER the rack and pinion to CENTER, then lign up the rack shaft to the female union on the column.

I have photos of all this, that i took. I just havent attached them, as Im sure there are lots of threads on here with DIY step by step rack replacements. But if anyone wants to see the photos, I have enough to explain most of the procedure. Once my hands got too greasy, i had to stop taking photos but i have quite a few that show the upper rack shaft (pinion shaft) and the female coupling, the guibo and part of the telescoping shaft. The U-joint's waaaaaay up top near the firewall and was difficult to reach by hand and camera view sucked.

Oh and GUESS WHAT? For future reference for EVERYONE THAT OWNS A BMW 325i , as far as "circulation" being witnessed in the power steering reservoir, think of it more like an extremely barely noticible "movement" of fluid. The best way I can explain this, is PRAY you have a dust particle or two floating on top of the surface of the ATF fluid. If that dust particle is moving from one side to the next, then THATS the extent of this "circulation". There is barely ANY flow whatsoever in the power steering resevoir. It's nothing noticable, and definitely no comparison to the flow you'd see at the top of a vehicle's radiator. If you see no flow in the reservoir, DONT jump to the conclusion (like i did), that the power steering pump may be faulty. When these pumps break (the LF20's normally), the internal impeller shaft breaks and you can simply pull on the PS pump's pulley and if it moves, then it's broken. Or you can test the pump simply by unscrewing the hydraulic line from the pump to the rack then turn the pump by hand or crank the engine 2 seconds and look for fluid to come out the other end of the line.

I appreciate your interest in my nightmare!!

Last edited by tatboy; 12-25-2012 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:00 PM   #12
Stinger9
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You have no idea how much we appreciate good pics of places not normally seen on this board. Please post them!

Are you certain now that the steering is totally clear? Remember that if working properly, the steering is extremely light and precise in it's operation. Feels like a dream.

Also, if you are convinced that the U-joint is the fix, I'll follow up with some WD-40 as a lube. Better for the long haul than the penetrating oil.

Last edited by Stinger9; 12-25-2012 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:59 PM   #13
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try white lithium spray instead of wd-40 for a long haul lube, wd-40 is just a soaker to break it loose remove rust and water.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:13 PM   #14
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This is my first time posting photos, so forgive me if they do not enlarge, etc. I uploaded them at 800x600 (which is pretty big) but for some reason they dont appear to be enlargable


Old Rack & Pinion prior to removal. Notice the BRAND NEW LF30 power steering pump on right side of photo below the cleaner black pulley


Old Rack next to new replacement


New Rack with outer tie rods connected. Remember, the new rack (replacement) needs to be PERFECTLY centered/aligned prior to fitting it's upper shaft into the steering column's intermediate coupler (guibo). And the steering wheel needs to be in it's LOCKED and perfectly straightened position.


New Rack , re-using high pressure line from LF30 pump to rack (still good, no leaks)


Rack pinion shaft about to connect with steering guibo on steering column


Rack connected to steering guibo coupler but image shows "pinch bolt" on wrong side. I later fixed this - lol


Rack shaft properly lined up and connected to steering column "intermediate coupler" AKA "guibo"


Outer tie rod being connected. Everything was aligned so straight due to measuring the old OUTER tie rod end placement (20 complete turns on each side as it were, and duplicating that procedure on the new rack), locking the steering wheel at dead center, and centering the new rack by measuring from beginning of inner tie rod joint to outer of joint and making sure the right and left sides were PERFECTLY equal; the vehicle rode 25 HWY miles to the alignment shop. The alignment mechanic said he didnt have to make any major adjustments. But it's always good to get your car aligned if your in doubt.

Last edited by tatboy; 12-25-2012 at 09:24 PM. Reason: edited photos
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:14 PM   #15
davidwarren
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Wait, so you replaced all of your steering components and you fixed it by hitting the coupler with PB Blaster? That coupler is like $50, I just had mine changed
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwmp View Post
try white lithium spray instead of wd-40 for a long haul lube, wd-40 is just a soaker to break it loose remove rust and water.
WD-40 is a light lubricant, so it would be fine in this application. Not in a stressful location.
White Lithium OK too.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:59 PM   #17
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davidwarren - in a nutshell, the answer to your question is a resounding YES !

Occam's Razor - All things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one

When driving your vehicle and over the course of about a week, you begin to notice the steering becoming progressively more difficult to turn as well as reluctance to coming back to an "unassisted" centerline when coming out of a turn, one tends to think things like "power steering pump failure", "a leaking hydraulic line", "air in the system/rack" or a failed pump preventing the flow thru of ATF fluid thru the rack leading to damaged internals.

A failed rack doesnt always show fluid leakage out of the inner tie rod end boots. Mine werent leaking at all. Steering racks on BMW
E46's are built like tanks and should last 150K+ miles with no issues. My vehicle has about 92k mi on it, so i was assuming perhaps there was internal component damage due to a few days worth of inadequate ATF flow for whatever reason. And we all know, it costs nearly the same to rebuild a rack yourself then to just go out and buy a rebuilt one. So i did.

I certainly wasnt thinking "Hey let me just spray the steering column with some WD-40"

I'm always assuming the worst.

I need to remember OCCAM'S RAZOR from here on out, and whenever my mind has to compete with itself for the most complex answer, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

The steering guibo isn't that difficult to get to, and (in hindsight) you dont even need to remove the rack due to the telescopic steering shaft - BUT - that U-joint is one hell of a b*tch to get to if your doing this job from the top down versus taking the rack & pinion off and approaching it from under the car. Either way, it's a real tight squeeze. Having giraffe-like female arms would be an asset if you could get the wife or girlfriend under there to handle the dirty work!

Remanufactured Power Steering Pump? $115
Power Steering Reservoir? $21
Remanufactured Rack & Pinion? $229
Over 7 man hours of diagnosis/Labor?

Realizing that a few squirts of lube over the steering column joint was the fix? P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S

$4.28 PB Blaster sprayed on the U-joint and Guibo. Now go forth and preach the good word ! lol

Last edited by tatboy; 12-25-2012 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:27 PM   #18
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My car is right at 175k miles. My pump died once from a shaft failure. The wheel was more difficult to turn when stopped, but once I was moving, it was only slightly harder to turn compared to when the pump was working, and the wheel would return to center normally. Just FYI.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:00 PM   #19
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It's good to know that your BMW has that many miles on it. Have you had to overhaul any of it's major components yet?

Being that your vehicle is a 2001, the power steering pump you had was most likely the LF20 model (which was well known for having an inadequate impeller shaft thickness). These LF20 pump shafts would crack internally and yet still rotate on it's pulley - perhaps providing, at best, a very small amount of flow through the rack. My vehicle was manufactured in 09/01 and, the power steering pump I removed/replaced was the LF30 type (which is a higher pressure pump with a much thicker internal shaft). My original LF30 pump is still good, so I'm just going to lightly coat it's internals with ATF fluid and place it on the shelf in the event this "new" pump were to one day fail.

Subjectively, my issues were twofold:

1. Steering felt like i had no power steering assist. The wheel would rotate maybe 1/4 way through it's normal range of motion, then appear to hit a "flat spot", stop dead in it's spot till I strong armed it through, then it rotated another 1/4 turn before again causing resistance.

2. The steering wheel would not track back to center "with assistance" of the pressurized ATF fluid

Sooooo.....

I thought to myself, "damn, i have a bad pump, or a stuck pump, or something within the pump is intermittantly breaking down" - OR - "One of my hydraulic hoses has a leak, allowing air to enter the system causing this erratic steering wheel behavior" - OR - "My rack is either clogged or it's internal valve system (at the level near it's pinion) has become mal-aligned or has failed".

I had read that if this was the case, that the rack's internals cant be "repaired" and a new replacement unit was the only remedy.

All the popular OEM websites wanted approx $1,400 down to $1,200 for an Original Equipment remanufactured rack

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...69&hg=32&fg=10

Believe it or not, my local Advanced Auto had the very same rack shipped in within 48 hours and it was identical to my OEM original. Im not certain how "into it" these rack remanufacturer's get involved in replacing the internals. I've heard they just acid wash the insides and replace the seals "that need replacing" and everything else they just leave original. I'm just hoping that the one I received, was remanufactured properly.

When you replaced your "guibo" or "U-joint" on the steering column (do you know WHICH you replaced?) - was it due to a loose or sloppy steering issue - OR - was it due to the situation I had where the steering wheel was difficult to turn and no "assist" when coming back to center?
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:10 PM   #20
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Sure I've had to overhaul a few things- cooling system (a few times) bushings, control arms, suspension, valve cover gaskets, steering pump, cam sensors, plugs, coils, O2 sensors, fuel pump, oil separator, etc... But to have it run better than new at 175K miles is a pretty good testament to the reliability of an e46.

I don't know what was changed, exactly on my column. I had it in to my mechanic for tires and an alignment, so had him do that too.
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