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Does Your Power Steering Line and Cooler Assembly Need Replacing? Power steering issues can be very difficult to diagnose, and leaks even harder to trace. On GM vehicles, especially GMC and Chevy trucks, the power steering system’s hard lines are very prone to rust and corrosion, which can lead to one — or dozens - of pinhole leaks that introduce air to the power steering’s hydraulics and leak fluid. While none of these leaks are large, they are often enough to drain the system of fluid over time. Such small leaks are very hard to notice as they often don’t even leave a drip in the driveway. A low power steering fluid level can cause a number of malfunctions in your steering including excessive noise, jumpy steering, or very difficult steering. On top of that, you can do damage to the power steering components if they are allowed to run dry. One of the most common sources of power steering leaks in GM trucks is the power steering line assembly. This is a hard line that also includes a small integrated power steering fluid cooler, which just loves to grow rust. Luckily, replacing this assembly isn’t too expensive and can be done fairly easily in your driveway or garage. Here’s how to get it done:
1. START DISCONNECTING.To remove the old power steering line, we have to start by disconnecting from the top. Disconnect the end of the line that attaches to the power steering fluid reservoir by removing the spring clamp on the side. Carefully pull the line off the reservoir. We don't care about the line, but don't want to break the tip off the reservoir! 2.
REMOVE THE HEAT sHIELD Remove the protective tin shield that covers the lines just past the point that they transition from flexible rubber to rigid steel. There are two bolts holding this shield on. 3.
DISCONNECT FROM THE RACK Follow the hard line to the power steering rack. There you’ll see four lines going into the rack itself. You want to remove the line that you traced from the rusty power steering fluid cooler. Use a line wrench for removing this to avoid destroying it in the process. 4.
OIL COOLER REMOVAL There is a bolt attaching the power steering fluid cooler section to the truck. This needs to be removed before you can get the line and cooler off. With everything unbolted you should be able to coax the whole assembly out of the engine area. If you get frustrated, you can always cut a section out to make it easier to remove. Your new lines won’t mind. 5.
Carefully wiggle and twist the new line into place, taking care to route the lines in the same manner they were originally installed. Use your line wrench to tighten the nut at the power steering rack. The other end of the line goes to the power steering fluid reservoir and is attached via a clamp. Don’t skip reinstalling the heat shield. You may not think it’s important, but if heat were to become a problem, you would regret not having that heat shield installed as your power steering started to freak out from boiling fluid. Reattach the power steering fluid cooler to the frame. Refill the power steering fluid reservoir and run the engine to get things circulating again and fill the system with fluid. The air should purge out on its own. You should monitor the level of the power steering fluid and add more as needed. It will drop significantly as the lines refill with fluid.