Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby RegalCustom [OP] » January 5th 2011, 5:23am

I have a 2002 Astro LT 4.3L rwd, and after changing the steering gear box it makes a hissing sound from the steering wheel through the steering colum. It sounds like the power steering fluid that is being pumped through the steering gear box. I have replaced the power steering gear twice and it still makes the hiss noise. Also, flushed the system and replaced with GM PS fluid and also tried a synthetic fluid. No change. The sound occurs when the wheel is turned in either direction at idle or while moving. I have read similar threads about this type of noise with other GM trucks but can't seam to find a solution.

Thank you for any possible suggestions.
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Re: Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby redfury » January 9th 2011, 4:39am

Possible air in the system? Bleeding is as simple as turning the wheel to the left and the right, but not to the stopping point, just before a few times, then returning to center and letting the engine run a few more minutes to help push the air up and out, checking the fluid as you go along.

If this doesn't change the noise, then it may be the pump itself? I'm assuming when you talk the gearbox, you are talking the gearbox at the end of the steering shaft, correct? Because if that's the case, the only thing it should be is something in the hydraulics. A whine or noise from the pump could be transmitted through the column, as well as anything else in the suspension that could be making noises. A hiss though tends to tell me something that is constant.
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
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Re: Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby 97AstroLT » July 13th 2013, 2:36am

Wow, this sounds an awful lot like what my van is doing. Did you ever solve this? The topic I posted my problem on is https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=27202.
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Re: Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby Sailing_Faith » July 13th 2013, 4:26am

I did not check the factory manual, but my 97 friend posted in his thread above that the procedure calls for a high number of turns back and forth... Was it 50? With no weight, and without the pump running if I read right.

Worth a try, won't cost anything.

Good luck!
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Re: Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby 97AstroLT » July 13th 2013, 5:37pm

That's basically what the manual says about bleeding the system. Lid of reservoir off, engine off, lock-to-lock at least 20 times (at least 40 if there's an oil cooler). Though it doesn't say it I believe it's suppose to be done in rapid succession - not pausing to check for bubbles (let an assisistant do that as well as keeping the reservoir from emptying. And if there are still bubbles after 20 or 40 then you keep going (it mentions loose connections could be a cause of air continuing to come into the system). Then there's an additional checklist to do after running the engine at least 2 minutes and wheels are back on the ground: smooth power assist, noiseless operation, proper fluid level, no system leaks, proper fluid condition.

I haven't done bled the system yet with this last failure (and it does have air in it) but after both times the steering box was changed I did this afterward in case the shop that changed it had not. It's possible I still failed to get it fully bled, but I made my best attempt to do so. I was getting no bubbles, but the noise never went away. It did seem to get a littler quieter, but the noise was definitely still there without bubbles showing in the reservoir and stayed about the same afterward.
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Re: Astro power steering hiss noise from steering wheel

Postby 97AstroLT » July 20th 2013, 6:29am

I opened up the steering fluid return filter today that I had put on when the steering box was last changed. It is only a screen and magnet (there's another larger filter they sell that can do a better job), but there was junk on the magnet. At first I didn't recognize the magnet and I thought it was a rubber washer that was decomposing in the fluid, but then I remembered. But whatever it had attracted looked a lot like hose residue - black and oily. Apparently it must be magnetic, so probably some small metal particles. Perhaps that has to do with my steering gear failing in only 650 miles.

Anyway the reason I posted is because in reviewing the bleeding procedure today it said the steering wheel was to be turned slowly and smoothly. Also I found a good write-up about bleeding the steering system that includes some steps to ensure the portion in the hydroboost is bled well: http://www.agrperformance.com/AGR-Installation/bleedinginstructions.pdf. Actually I'm not sure on the Astro/Safari that the hydroboost steps are necessary but the rest is consistent with what's in the GM service manual. One other statement in this write-up is the following "Do not start the engine until the system is fully bled. Doing so may cause damage to the power steering components. Pump internals are metal on metal. Any air in the system can
cause metal to metal contact and damage." I like how it describes the reason it's important to have air out of the system. I didn't understand that before. I don't know that I'm fully convinced though. Surely it's going to be pretty oily, even it there are some bubbles. Maybe increased turbulence and/or motion past seals as bubbles pass?

I wasn't bleeding it, but intended to locate precisely the noise I've had using a mechanic's stethoscope. Surprise: no noise! I put the van down so there was force on the wheels and still the fairly-loud hiss didn't return when the wheels were turned. It was leaking fluid pretty quick so I didn't keep it running a long time (I didn't want to waste a lot of fluid). But it made me wonder if there has been a stubborn pocket of air down in the gear that finally got bled when the seal around the pitman arm shaft started leaking. I was moving the steering wheel fairly fast when I did the bleeding on the system. Another step I think I missed was starting with the wheels all the way to the left. Maybe I never got it bled good enough? Yet power brakes and steering have always been working fine, but the noise just seemed abnormal.
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