Introduction: How to Replace a Power Steering Pump

So you wake up one morning ready to drive the kids to school and head in to work. The sun is up, and the dogs are barking. As you are walking up to the car, your son says, "Daddy! Look at all that water under the car!" -- and it isn't water. It is power steering fluid.

Another symptom is a "growling" sound from under the hood when turning the wheel.

Gosh, how much is this going to cost? Well, expect $200+ if you take it to the shop. This DIY repair cost less than $50.

Over the course of a vehicle lifetime, it will likely become necessary to replace or rebuild the power steering pump due to leakage. The power steering pump is a hardened pump, where the failure mode is normally fluid leakage around the gaskets and seals.

So which to do? A replacement or a rebuild? In my opinion, the power steering pump should be viewed as a line replaceable unit. Rebuilding will not be addressed in this instructable.

The pump replacement is easy to do once a few tricks are recognized. For example, do not attempt pump replacement without locating a power steering pump pulley puller. Using a standard pulley puller may make the pulley out of round -- not a good thing!

This paper outlines pump replacement on a 1987 Ford Thunderbird 3.8L V6. The original pump lasted more than 300,000 miles.

Expect Total Time to Repair around 4 hours.

Have fun, and be safe!


Step 1: Gather Materials

This instructable is designed into four main parts. Here's the outline:

1) Gather the materials
-- Instructable step 1 - This includes tools, a new pump, fluids, etc.
2) Remove the leaking pump
-- Instructable step 2 - Drain the Power Steering system
-- Instructable step 3 - Remove accessories from Power Steering system
-- Instructable step 4 - Remove the pulley and bolts
-- Instructable step 5 - Remove power steering pump
3) Install the new pump
-- Instructable step 6 - Place the new power steering pump
-- Instructable step 7 - Press on the power steering pump pulley
-- Instructable step 8 - Align the pulley and attach the belts
-- Instructable step 9 - Flush and fill the power steering system
4) Cleanup
-- Instructable step 10 - Cleanup

You'll need some tools to complete this task. Before you start, gather the necessary equipment -- you will not be able to use the car once you start the replacement! It is always a good idea to have a friend on call, or a second car available.

Equipment list:

  • Power Steering pump (to replace defective pump)
  • Two (2) quarts power steering fluid or appropriate ATF (to flush and fill). More than 2 quarts if flushing the rack is desired.
  • Power Steering Pulley Puller set (to remove and attach the pulley). Some auto parts stores will loan the tool sets.
  • Socket set.
  • Open end wrench set (for use with puller set).
  • Leverage pipe or extension bar (in case the pulley is hardened on the spindle).
  • Drain pan (to drain & flush power steering system).
  • Wheel bearing grease for sliding pulley on the pump hub.
  • 2' wood 1x2 for assistance with aligning the pulleys. Any straight tool will work fine -- a level, metal rod, wood, whatever.

Step 2: Drain the Power Steering System

Removing the Power Steering pump should take less than two hours, depending on the equipment that may need to be removed to get to the power steering pump. On the Ford Thunderbird, the pump is accessible without removing any other equipment.

1) Flush the power steering system. This way, the rack is filled with fresh fluid, in preparation for receiving the new pump.

2) Drain the power steering system.

Step 3: Remove Accessories From Power Steering System

Next, prepare to remove the Power Steering pump by removing the accessories from the system.

1) Disconnect the negative battery cable

3) Remove the power steering belt.

4) Disconnect the power steering pressure and return hoses from the pump.

5) Confirm there are no other connections to the power steering pump. For example, there may be a fluid level sensor.

Step 4: Remove the Pulley & Bolts

Removing the pulley & bolts is very easy -- if you use the correct tools!

1) Remove the pulley with the puller.

2) Remove the bolts that connect the pump to the vehicle.

Step 5: Remove Power Steering Pump

Nice! At this point, the power steering pump is cradled in the frame & brackets and ready to be removed.

1) Remove the power steering pump.

Step 6: Place the New Power Steering Pump

Now that the old pump has been removed, it is time to install the new Power Steering pump.

1) Insert new pump into bracket.

2) Tighten pump attaching bolts.

3) Attach pressure hose onto pump. NOTE: The return hose is not attached until the end, after flushing the pump of the machining grease and oil.

Step 7: Press on the Power Steering Pulley

Attach Power Steering pulley. This is performed with the pulley press. The press has two pieces -- (a) a through bolt, and (b) a hub press.

1) Screw the hub press completely on the through bolt.

2) Grease the pulley and the pump hub.

3) Place pulley on pump hub.

4) Attach through bolt into hub. NOTE: Be absolutely certain to tighten the through bolt completely in the hub. There will be significant pressure against the bolt threads, and the bolt will likely strip out of the hub if not completely tightened into hub assembly.

5) Tighten the hub press against the pulley until the pulley is aligned with the remaining belted equipment.

6) Remove the hub press and through bolt from the pump.

Step 8: Align the Pulley and Attach the Belts

The pulley alignment may be tricky and require some time to get right.

1) Align the Power Steering pulley to the other pulley assemblies on the vehicle.

In the picture, a wood alignment tool is being used. The far end of the alignmnet tool rests on the crankshaft pulley, and the near end is on the power steering pulley. Alignment is made with the power steering pulley puller and press. Adjust the power steering pulley until it is well in line with the crankshaft pulley.

NOTE: Two things will likely happen if the pulleys are not in alignment. (1) The belts will wear more rapidly, and (2) belt noise will occur.

2) Attach AC Accessory belt.

3) Attach serpentine belt.

Step 9: Flush and Fill the Power Steering System

The hard parts are done! Now just flush the system and fill.

1) Flush the pump with at least 1 quart of appropriate fluid. NOTE: The Ford Thunderbird calls for ATF, NOT Power Steering Fluid. I tried the Power Steering fluid, and it caused a significant grinding sound.

2) Attach the return hose onto pump.

3) Fill the reservoir

Step 10: Cleanup

The job is done! All that is left is to clean up and celebrate saving yourself $200.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please send me email.