Cold start at -16F, power steering pump noise under load

Discussion in 'Vortec 4.2L I-6' started by dkvasnicka, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. dkvasnicka

    dkvasnicka Silver Supporter

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    This cold blast in Central Europe is just insane. I don't think my skin has ever met -16.6 F (-27 C) before. Anyway, I started the truck today, after a few days. New battery, so it fired right up. However it started emitting a pretty crazy sound from the power steering pump area. Here's the sound on video, you can hear it everytime I turn the steering wheel (don't confuse it with the sound of the tires in snow).



    The truck was parked with the wheels turned all the way to the right (I don't do that normally but I was not using the parking brake due to the temperatures and wanted to position the truck so that it exerts as little force as possible to the P pin in the transmission) and when I started it it immediatelly started doing this. As it got warmer it was only doing it under load and then as it fully warmed the sound went away and I was driving the whole day without problems or noises. No leaks, no warning lights on the dash.

    I know the correct reply probably is "go buy a new one, fast" but I just wanted to know if it's possible that it was just due to the PS fluid being too thick at -16 F ...?
     
  2. littleblazer

    littleblazer Gold Supporter

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    I would say that that is exactly what it is. You should also notice that the wheel feels stiffer as well. If it goes away I would worry. Just check the level when it's cold to make sure you're not low.
     
  3. TollKeeper

    TollKeeper Well-Known Member

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    Common problem for GM. They all seem to have a power steering groan on start up in extreme cold. Just let it warm up before you drive, and make sure you fluid is full.

    The other option is a garage. But is also allot more expensive.
     
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  4. Chickenhawk

    Chickenhawk Well-Known Member

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    Relatively normal, especially if the fluid has never been changed. We deal with cold temps like that for weeks, if not months, at a time.

    If you were ambitious, use a turkey baster to syphon out the fluid (it will be black) and replace with a good synthetic PS fluid. Drive for a week and do it again. This will replace about 75% of the fluid, which is fine. There is not a lot of strain on it. (If you are REALLY ambitious, do it a third time, but the benefits at that point will be minimal.) I find this less messy than pulling a hose and trying to flush the fluid.

    On the last fill, leave it slightly underfilled and top it up with half a bottle of a GOOD additive. (Do NOT use anything with "stop leak" in it!) Some people get good results with Lucas PS conditioner, but I find it a bit thick. I prefer Lubegard additive.

    I would try new synthetic fluid first, and then a bit of additive to further quiet it if required later.
     
  5. dkvasnicka

    dkvasnicka Silver Supporter

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    I should have mentioned that my fluid level is OK and that I have done the syphoning out thing several times during the last year.
     
  6. DAlastDON

    DAlastDON Platinum Supporter

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    Both the envoy and ford 250 super-duty have the ungodly noise at -15F. Startled me a first. Went away as things warmed up.
     
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  7. gmcman

    gmcman Well-Known Member

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    Mine has that noise at around +15F, only last for a few seconds though. ....definitely annoying.
     
  8. Sparky

    Sparky Moderator

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    You think that's bad, you should have heard my pump at -15 degrees a couple years ago with a -30 wind chill blasting through the grille parked in a parking lot one night when I fired it up.

    PS fluid turns to syrup at really cold temps, that noise doesn't surprise me. Mine didn't stop screaming when turning the wheel until a few miles down the road that night. You're probably fine.
     
  9. Mooseman

    Mooseman Moderator

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    Both the TB (when it was working) and the Saab do this. The colder it is, the longer it makes the noise. Once the fluid warms up, it goes away. A synthetic fluid might help. It is known as morning sickness.
     
  10. littleblazer

    littleblazer Gold Supporter

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    Just run synthetic atf. No more thickening.:rotfl:
     
  11. dkvasnicka

    dkvasnicka Silver Supporter

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    When I was syphoning out the old fluid I was topping it off with the Gold Eagle universal fluid https://www.goldeagle.com/product/gold-eagle-universal-power-steering-fluid
    Not sure if that's a synthethic...? I wasn't able to find any GM-specific explicitly synthetic PS fluid here, maybe it's just that they are selling it here under a different name :/

    I thought we're supposed to stay far away from ATF when it comes to PS pumps on this platform...?
     
  12. Sparky

    Sparky Moderator

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    I've just used any old PS fluid. Never heard of using ATF for PS systems before :blinkhuh:
     
  13. littleblazer

    littleblazer Gold Supporter

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    Lot of vehicles do or did spec atf. Shouldn't hurt anything.
     
  14. BrianF

    BrianF Well-Known Member

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    I run Amsoil MV ATF in both my vehicles. They still honk and groan a bit on really cold startups but they level off fast. The old PS fluid in my TB would scream for what seemed like an eternity on cold starts before. My next PS fluid exchange will be using Co-op ATF SL. It is a fully synthetic group 4 fluid. Its pour point is -66C, which is even better than the Amsoil MV. I will try this stuff next week when I do the oil change. Will have plenty of winter left to test it.
     
  15. dkvasnicka

    dkvasnicka Silver Supporter

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    I ended up ordering 3 qts of Valvoline SynPower PS fluid (pour point -57C) and I'll do the flush with front wheels in the air and engine off that is described on the forums...
     
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