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Old 01-03-2022, 08:39 PM   #1
Boog
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heavy power steering

It's been a long time since I had my 88 pkup so my memory is a bit fuzzy on some particulars.
My low mileage (82,000) 91 sportside's steering takes a bit more effort than my newer trucks, especially when just backing up and turning at near idle speed. Was that normal back then? The pump is quiet with no leaks and all the steering components are tight and it has stock rims and tires.
Wonder if new ps fluid would make a difference.
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Old 01-03-2022, 10:11 PM   #2
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Re: heavy power steering

Sounds like the pump is weak. Mine was hard to steer at low RPMs until I changed the pump.
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Old 01-03-2022, 11:19 PM   #3
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Re: heavy power steering

I have seen where some guys put a shim in the pump outlet pressure valve to up the pressure. Ever tried that?
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Old 01-03-2022, 11:51 PM   #4
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Re: heavy power steering

No. I used a pump I had lying around that came from a Cadillac.
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Old 01-04-2022, 12:06 AM   #5
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Re: heavy power steering

I have heard there are different pump pressure valves to tailor the pressure to different applications like Camaro, Vettes, full size cars, 3/4 & 1 ton trucks. So far I don't find those valves listed separately at O'Reillys.
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Old 01-04-2022, 01:38 AM   #6
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Re: heavy power steering

The Cadillac and truck valve both looked the same to me. I used the truck valve. Pretty sure a new pump comes with one. I don't see why you would want to switch the valve on a bad pump.
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Old 01-04-2022, 02:43 AM   #7
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Re: heavy power steering

I'm not convinced just yet the pump is bad. Normally one will whine or growl when it's failing. This one is still quiet.
I'm exploring options is all.
I've got another truck with a quick ratio sector that I think could use a little more fluid pressure. I thank ya.
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Old 01-04-2022, 08:34 AM   #8
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Re: heavy power steering

My pump sounded normal too, but it wasn't.
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Old 01-04-2022, 10:24 AM   #9
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Re: heavy power steering

My 91 C1500 I always felt had "heavy" steering but I think it was just normal. It had no pump noises and was a fairly low mileage truck when I had it. My current 93 K2500 Suburban actually feels a tad bit lighter when steering even though it's certainly heavier up front being 4wd with a 454.
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Old 01-04-2022, 11:24 AM   #10
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Re: heavy power steering

Hi Dave. I am thinking that "heavy" feeling is mostly normal for those early gmt400 trucks but looking for confirmation I guess. Just how heavy was normal? I have just forgotten how my 88 drove.
In comparison, my 06 and 09 GMCs outdrive the 91 by far. The 91 only has 82,000 actual miles.
Something in the design changed in the mid 90s. My 97 had an easier steering feel as though the ratio had changed maybe. So I wonder if the steering sectors from late 90s easily interchange with the early 90s. Probably so. I may explore that.
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Old 01-04-2022, 03:04 PM   #11
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Re: heavy power steering

I haven't noticed a heavy feeling in my '90 k1500, but I can't compare to anything newer than my '93 toy, I just don't drive newer vehicles. I recently had an issue with the toy where the steering fluid was getting low, but no leaks. It turns out it was getting sucked into the intake. There is a pressure switch that when the power steering starts to work, the fluid pressure change opens a valve. The valve introduces a vacuum leak causing the engine to rev up a few rpm, providing more power for steering. The switch was later changed to electronic. I don't know if our Chevy trucks have a similar system? If so, and if it wasn't working, that could cause a heavy feeling in the steering...
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Old 01-04-2022, 03:06 PM   #12
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Re: heavy power steering

I have a used box that I still need to put on, but I was only changing it because my pitman arm shaft is worn. I do remember asking the interchange and the newer boxes are different in some way. My 99 does steer way better than the 93, but the 99 also has a different pump.
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Old 01-04-2022, 03:52 PM   #13
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Re: heavy power steering

A lot of the 99 and newer use rack & pinon versus the worm gear style steering. I know some of the HD models and maybe 4x4 models still used the worm-gear style. Just never figured out what made the difference. I loved the rack & pinon on my 02, 05, and 07 models. If you have been driving newer models or pre87 models, the 88-98 years will seem to have a bit heavier steering.
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Old 01-04-2022, 05:39 PM   #14
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Re: heavy power steering

I have ran across numerous old threads regarding heavy steering issues on the 88 and up pickups. Some stated their truck drove that way from new. It's way different than the preceding 73-87 trucks steered. Most thought it was a faulty steering sector and some replaced theirs with the Red Top or AGR brands. A couple mention replacing the pump. Some never posted the solution, if they found one, to their truck's steering issue.
My 97 2wd pkup and 97 4wd Suburban both had that speed sensitive steering assist or something like that. It had a switch in the pump and a sensor around the column inside the truck. They were problematic and the part on the column would fail making the steering intermittently twitchy while driving around curves. For a millisecond it felt like the steering wheel was no longer attached to the steering linkage. It was unnerving when it acted up. Makes a fella's heart speed up a bit! It would boost the steering assist while you were in a turn for a split second. I replaced a couple of them and I unplugged one and drove it for months without the sensor assist and it drove just fine.
Anyway those 97 models were easy to drive with a balanced feel. I don't know how many years GM used that sss assist system but most of us don't miss it.
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Old 01-07-2022, 03:07 PM   #15
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Re: heavy power steering

My vote is on the PS pump. I had to replace one in another truck of mine. They do go bad without any other fault detected like a noise or leak.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:36 AM   #16
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Re: heavy power steering

in 88 they put a bigger torsion bar in the steering box, which made them steer harder. you can swap the input from a 80's truck box and it will steer easier.
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