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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:13 PM   #1
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Low power steering fluid causes whining?

When I start my car I hear a really loud wining for about 20 seconds, and then it goes away. I initially thought it was coming from my alternator and went ahead and replaced it (it was going out regardless).

Unfortunately, that didn't stop the whining. It does go away after some driving time, but I would occasionally hear it again after being in idle for a while or taking turns. I checked the power steering reservoir (what I think it is) and sure enough, it was really low. I don't have time to get new fluid yet, so I figured I would confirm with you guys if this could be causing the high pitch whine.

Can I just buy more fluid and top it off?

Thanks

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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:36 PM   #2
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yes low fluid level will cause it to whine. Top it off before you fry the power steering .
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #3
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Great, so are all power steering fluids created equal? Does it really matter which one I add?
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:43 PM   #4
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i use automatic transmission fluid but if you are going with power steering fluid i think there is only a bottle that has power steering fluid marked on it. i don't think there are differant types of it, at least not that i know of.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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to aid a leak trans fluid works great . i have used used diesel oil as well.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #6
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Dexron 3 ATF is what is recommended by PS rebuilders and the GM manual (forgot which one).
Do not drive till it is topped off!
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Old October 30th, 2011, 05:42 PM   #7
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Ill try to pick up some PS fluid tomorrow, but are you saying transmission fluid works too?
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Old October 30th, 2011, 06:03 PM   #8
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Interesting question.

I've always just used Dextron, and it's always worked fine for me, but upon examining the requirements, '68 calls for GM Power Steering Fluid #1050017.
Pretty much all auto parts store "Power Steering Fluid" will say it's the same thing as 1050017, so it's not hard to find.

I suspect that there is no meaningful difference between Dextron and 1050017, but I really have no idea.

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Old October 30th, 2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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i usually used what ever trans fluid i had lying around . i used dex 3 on my dads olds
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Old October 30th, 2011, 06:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Low power steering fluid causes whining?
I've found that a low checking account balance causes whining, myself, along with questions about why I don't pick up more overtime.

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Old October 30th, 2011, 06:15 PM   #11
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@mdchanic lol im in the same boat
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Old October 31st, 2011, 03:17 PM   #12
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So after topping it off, is the whining suppose to never be heard again or does it take a little bit of taking the car out to get the fluids circulating some?

I feel like now it doesn't whine for nearly as long when I start my car... only a couple seconds as appose to the 15ish before. Thanks
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Old October 31st, 2011, 08:34 PM   #13
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Both are hydraulic fluids, but one is colored and the other is clear, both do the same thing. Oh, and they don't swell the seals.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 10:24 PM   #14
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We use Dextron III in all our military vehicles at the Regional Training Site Maintenance Camp Roberts (Shameless military plug). I teach my soldiers to use it and use it in my vehicle. I honestly couldnt tell you whats in labeled power steering fluid, Dextron does the job but it may be the label stuff has magic steering juice that makes it better.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 02:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
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So after topping it off, is the whining suppose to never be heard again or does it take a little bit of taking the car out to get the fluids circulating some?

I feel like now it doesn't whine for nearly as long when I start my car... only a couple seconds as appose to the 15ish before. Thanks
If the power steering reservoir is full, then the whining should stop immediately. Same way it does with the checking account.

Have you checked it since filing it? If some air bled out of it, the level could have gone down.

IF the sound is, in fact, coming from the PS pump (which we have not definitely established), and it's still whining when it's full, then you probably need a new pump.
Time for a visit to the junkyard.

- Eric

ps: you DO mean whining coming from the pump, and not squealing coming from a loose belt, right?
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Old November 1st, 2011, 05:49 AM   #16
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After getting it filled, slowly turn the wheels lock to lock a couple times to bleed any air out. Check fluid again with engine off.
If the noise persists, the pump may be heading south.

When pumps go really low on fluid they suck in air and make a very unique growling noise - a bit scary to hear. This cannot be confused with a whine - totally different sounds.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 07:50 AM   #17
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I need to empty the power steering fluid container a little (over filled it) and then try what Lady72 said above. I need a couple extra hours in a day. Who knew a 5 week old child would take away your free time ;-).

I did try to take a video of what I'm hearing. Turns out its pretty hard to film an engine bay with one person. Regardless, you can at least hear what it is. I think its whining. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6a39KzLDso

My belts seem to look good
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Old November 1st, 2011, 08:52 AM   #18
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Sounds like a loose belt or a bad bearing to me.

Nothing at all like a power steering pump whine.

Definitely more of a squeal or a shriek.

If your belts are all tight enough, then check your water pump, P/S pump, A/C, and alternator bearings - remove the belts and spin the different parts - they should spin smoothly and silently. You could also leave off one belt or another and see if it does it with any particular accessory disconnected (won't work for the water pump, as it's always connected).

We should have had this information to begin with - we've been on a wild goose chase.

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Old November 1st, 2011, 09:24 AM   #19
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Sounds like a loose belt or a bad bearing to me. X2
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Old November 1st, 2011, 09:26 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDchanic View Post

If your belts are all tight enough, then check your water pump, P/S pump, A/C, and alternator bearings - remove the belts and spin the different parts - they should spin smoothly and silently. You could also leave off one belt or another and see if it does it with any particular accessory disconnected (won't work for the water pump, as it's always connected).

We should have had this information to begin with - we've been on a wild goose chase.

- Eric
Sorry I couldn't get the video sooner since I new that was really going to help. Belts seem tight, but I'll try taking them off and starting the car to see if I can localize where the noise is coming from. I have no A/C and I just replaced the alternator so I guess its either belts, P/S pump, or water pump.

Aside from looking normal, I don't think it could be a belt since the noise goes away rapidly. Hopefully I can find some time to check all this out.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 10:00 AM   #21
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Try a little belt dressing to see if the noise subsides. If you do not have any, a little water could be just enough to see if it is belt related. Only drawback is that its a little messy.
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Old November 1st, 2011, 10:36 AM   #22
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Try tightening the PS belt. Not hard but a little tricky - the instructions by Joe in this thread helped me a bunch:
http://classicoldsmobile.com/forums/...lt-squeel.html
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Old November 1st, 2011, 10:40 AM   #23
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... I don't think it could be a belt since the noise goes away rapidly.
Au contraire. Belts can do exactly this - they slip against the inertia of the respective parts, then the parts start to turn and the squealing stops.

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Old November 3rd, 2011, 09:51 AM   #24
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I had time again to check up on my car. I got the power steering fluid to the right level, and drove it around the block. After letting it sit, I cranked it on and I no longer here the whining / screeching. This may be fixed.

However, I don't know if its just me being paranoid or what, but I feel like I still hear a slight ticking like noise that just doesn't seem right. I tried to take another video of my engine cracking on but my phone quality is, well, as good as my phone can do. Is it just me or is my water pump starting to wobble some.

It could be nothing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy6UkaHdJE8
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 10:52 AM   #25
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Check the nuts / bolts on the water pump pulley. If tight, grab it with your hands (ENGINE OFF) and try to rock it or wiggle it. If it moves, the bearings are worn.
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 12:42 PM   #26
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Squeal

A couple things - ATF and power steering fluid are both hydraulic oils. The main difference in ATF vs power steering fluid is the ATF has additional friction modifyers for use in wet clutch applications (as in an auto trans). The friction modifyers do nothing for you in a power steering pump as there are no clutches. I, like most others, use ATF in the power steering as it means I have one less type of fluid to keep track of :-).

low power steering fluid can cause a belt squeal on startup. Air in the system will also cause the same thing. The pump will essentially get "slugs" of fluid in the pump portion (for lack of a better description). when this happens there is sudden loading to the pump which can cause a belt to chirp. Once the system is properly bled this should go away.

A very weak battery can also cause a belt squeal on start-up, but for different reasons. With a very weak battery (just strong enough to start the car), the alternator begins charging at full field before everything (the alternator) is up to speed. When this happens the belt can lose traction. Once traction is lost it is tough to regain (the coefficient of static friction is typically much higher than that of dynamic friction - excluding some special materials). Either the battery charges sufficiently to quit requiring full field from the alternator or the belt heats up and gets a better hold of the pulley (coefficient of friction goes up as rubber heats and softens).

As someone rightfully mentioned, to check the water pump bearings you make sure the fan bolts are tight. Grab the fan near the tip of a blade and move it forward and backwards (perpendicular to fan rotation plane) and see if you can get deflection of the water pump pulley rim. This is important as if you are checking a car with a fan clutch you may also feel play in the fan clutch bearing - watch what part is moving to see where the play is. Seeing a slight wobble in a pulley is not uncommon - they are not "rocket ship" tolerance and there is no reason for them to be.
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 12:42 PM
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