Variable-assist Power Steering

Derphound01

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Chameleon 1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6
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Posting this in the Suspension section since I didn't see a Steering section.

My steering is incredibly heavy while stopped and at parking lot speeds. It feels just fine on the road. My car has the variable-assist steering system. Is this a fault with the electronic system or is it a problem with the hydraulics?
 
Have you had a chance to flush the PS lines? If the fluid is fresh (Mercon V) it could be indicative of an EVO orifice that is stuck in a partially-opened position.

Otherwise I'd do a fluid flush and see how much it helps.
 
Hydraulics or something else. When EVO fails electronically(which is actually rare) it'll default to full assist all the time, eg low effort at low speeds(as normal) low effort at high speed(abnormal)
 
How recently have you flushed the system? If the fluid is fresh Mercon V it could be indicative of an EVO orifice that is stuck in a partially-opened position.
I guarantee you every fluid on this car except for the engine oil is original from 1995.

Hydraulics or something else. When EVO fails it'll default to full assist all the time, eg low effort at low speeds(as normal) low effort at high speed(abnormal)
Duly noted. I have a terrible squeak from the RF that is present even while turning the wheel stationary. Still getting my new garage unpacked and organized before I can install the new suspension that's been riding the shelf since spring. Hoping that will fix it.
 
Sounds like a bad ball joint. If the ball joint is binding, it will cause extra resistance turning the wheel, which you will feel as increased steering effort. It is probably still harder at speed, but less noticeable since the wheels turn a lot easier when moving. I would definitely get that suspension, or at least the offending ball joint changed ASAP, and not drive the car until you do. If the ball joint let’s go, the suspension collapses, takes out the fender and wheelhouse liner, and possibly takes out the tire too depending where it hits.
 
Sounds like a bad ball joint. If the ball joint is binding, it will cause extra resistance turning the wheel, which you will feel as increased steering effort. It is probably still harder at speed, but less noticeable since the wheels turn a lot easier when moving. I would definitely get that suspension, or at least the offending ball joint changed ASAP, and not drive the car until you do. If the ball joint let’s go, the suspension collapses, takes out the fender and wheelhouse liner, and possibly takes out the tire too depending where it hits.
Also duly noted.
 
I have the basic steering, and it definitely became much better after the ball joints were replaced. That said, it's still heavy compared to any modern car or compared to a Panther.

I never flushed the lines; however, I repeatedly siphoned out the fluid and replaced it, so my fluid has gradually become entirely translucent. That also contributed to some improvements since I purchased the car.

@Derphound01 , if all fluids are old, then you're missing out on some major drivability benefits.
The biggest one is transmission fluid. When I flushed that, the car felt like new - I'm not even exaggerating.
 
Would a failing ball joint make any sort of sound, in some cases?
 
Yeah, I'd go ahead and get that taken care of soon. Ball joint noises are pretty obvious and unnerving that—especially considering the age of these cars now coupled with the knowledge that's been out there for decades—I find it very hard to believe that any owner who isn't deaf or negligent could claim that they "suddenly" failed (in reference to something I read in the group). There is nothing normal about that sound.
 
Far as power steering goes. My buddies 97 we found for $300 a couple years ago. The power steering worked like crap and leaked badly at the pump. Very heavy and stiff. We replaced the pump and it was the same. Then we did the rack too while we had the subframe down. And the power steering wasn't any better. So we scratched our heads for some time. Then we finally noticed that the fluid didn't move through the fluid reservoir the same as any of my cars. So we pulled the reservoir off and we discovered that the screen in the bottom was all blocked up from someone putting tons of PS fluid with sealer in it. It took a bunch of brake clean to get the screen clear. Since then it has worked flawlessly.
 
That noise is the ball working it's way out of the socket. It fails soon after it starts making noise. I watched a buddy drop one backing out of a parking place in an eagle talon. Fucked that car up. :)
 
Ball joints and tie rod ends will make that sound when going bad. That one sounds pretty extreme, that sound usually starts out a lot quieter and gets worse the longer it is ignored until it either locks up and breaks or completely separates. I've never had one that loud, unfortunately they broke before that...
 
Agreed; that will come apart soon. The ball is a bummer to get out of the arm, if it's not attached anymore. I've never had that happen, but a buddy ended up having a heck of a time getting one out of a jeep.
 

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