Joanna (Msmillar) has written for many years on do-it-yourself car repair and maintenance.
The Role of the Power Steering Pump
Located at the front of the right side (driver's side) of the engine, the power steering pump is an integral part of the steering system of the 1989 Chevrolet. Without this pump, steering your truck is very difficult. You can still steer, but you have to put great effort into turning the steering wheel just to make the tires turn a small amount.
The serpentine belt runs the power steering pump via a pulley attached to the front of the power steering pump. Thus, if the serpentine belt in your truck breaks or otherwise comes off, you will suddenly have a lot of difficulty steering.
Symptoms of a Failing Power Steering Pump
When the power steering pump begins to fail, unlike many parts of the engine that remain quiet when they fail, it makes plenty of noise! In fact the most common symptom of pump failure is the noise it will make! When turning the steering wheel, you can hear a high-pitched squeal or sometimes a deep groan coming from the engine compartment. When you release the steering wheel, the noise goes away.
Some other symptoms are:
- A slight delay in steering response: the truck doesn't turn as soon as you turn the steering wheel.
- The steering is not as easy as it usually is. This can be intermittent.
- Periods where you get some power assistance to your steering, along with short periods of no power assistance at all. This can happen as you are driving.
An Easy Replacement
Fortunately, the power steering is a straight forward, easy to access, replacement job. We will need a specialty tool that can be rented at just about any auto parts shop. When you return the tool, the auto parts store will return your money in full!
What You Will Need
This job goes a lot quicker and easier if you have all of your parts and tools at the ready. Here's what you're going to need:
- A new power steering pump. Make SURE it matches the one in your vehicle! My Chevy 3500 has an extra hose that other Chevys do not. The parts guy was insistent that what he had was the correct pump. It was not. It was missing the extra hose.
- Power steering fluid.
- Power steering pulley remover as mentioned above.
- Wrenches. Sockets aren't going to work here. There's no room to fit a socket wrench into the area.
- A screw, or some sort of plugging device, to plug the power steering fluid lines when you disconnect them.
- A breaker bar with a 5/8" socket to turn the belt tensioner to release the serpentine belt.
Remove the Old Pump
- Disconnect the negative battery terminal. This is one job you don't want the truck to accidentally turn over on you.
- With your breaker bar twist the belt tensioner until you can pull the serpentine belt off.
- Lay some old newspaper on the ground below your work area. It will catch any fluid that may drip down.
- Unscrew and remove the hoses on the back side of the pump. Put your pipe plug on these hoses to reduce fluid loss and keep contaminants out.
- Remove the mounting screws going from the power steering pump to the engine and bracket.
- Remove the power steering pump. Mine was easier to remove by lowering it out the bottom. You may need to remove anything that is additional in your engine compartment that may block the pump from coming out. On the standard engine it will come out top or bottom.
Removing the Power Steering Pump
Remove the Pulley
Once you have the power steering pump in hand it's time to remove the pulley. Get your pulley puller kit and read the instructions on how to use it. It's simple and straight forward. It can be tough turning the screw on an old pulley but it will come off.
When you put your old pulley on the new pump be sure to use some sort of lubricant on the shaft first. It will make your life a whole lot easier if you do. Use your pulley remover kit to put the pulley on the new pump.
Install the New Pump
Now that you have the pulley on your new pump, does it spin freely? Good. If not, check that it is seated all the way.
You may want an assistant for the installation. The screws are in a tight space and can be difficult to start on their screw or nut. Your assistant can hold the power steering pump while you start the screws.
- Insert the power steering pump as you removed it.
- Get the mounting screws in and tightened.
- Remove the hose plugs and attach the hoses to the outlet they came off of on the old pump.
- Put the serpentine belt back on.
- Reattach the negative battery cable.
- Fill the pump with fluid.
Burp Your New Power Steering Pump
Before you can call it done, you need to burp the power steering pump. Newer trucks have a bleed valve that you attach a long hose to. The other end of the hose goes into a can to catch the fluid. Otherwise it's the same procedure.
- Preferably you should lift the front end up until the wheels are off the ground, but I have burped many trucks without lifting the front end and it was just fine.
- Start the engine.
- Turn the steering wheel, slowly, all the way to the right stop.
- Now turn the wheel, slowly, all the way to the left stop.
- Do it again.
- Check the fluid in the power steering pump. Add fluid if needed.
- If you see bubbles in the power steering pump reservoir or in the can catching the fluid, repeat steps 3 - 5 until bubbles do not appear.
Good job! Your power steering is all set now. Be sure to check the power steering fluid level every once in a while to make sure it is still at the full mark.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.