I have a 01 Sable 210k miles; currently and all of a sudden the power steering began to whine, the turning has gotten tigher. My question is simple; is this a sensor issue or has the pump given it's last pump....The fluid levels are good, no leaks, and no warnings either. I have one other issue (engine related) but more on that later.
The P/S Pump on the Duratec's do have a tendency to leak from the front bearing. Where the fluid is the correct level it does sound like what Burt suggested. There is a special tool, called a power steering analyzer, that you install in-line with the pressure hose and following the directions, you can determine if it's a bad pump or there's a rack or column issue. If you were to use this tool, be very careful. It does deal with high pressures with hot fluid. READ AND UNDERSTAND THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY.
Pump Flow and Pressure Test
WARNING: Do not touch the flowmeter during the test procedure, or severe burns and serious injury can occur. Failure to follow these instructions may result in personal injury.
Make sure that the connection point will not interfere with any of the engine accessory drive components or drive belts. Install the power steering analyzer at the high pressure port of the power steering pump. Make sure the power steering analyzer gate valve is fully open.
2. Place a dial thermometer in the power steering pump reservoir.
3. Check the power steering fluid level. If necessary, add specified power steering fluid.
4. Install a digital tachometer. (Not Needed, use Cluster Tach
Do not hold the steering wheel against the stops for more than 3 to 5 seconds at a time. Damage to the power steering pump can occur. Start the engine. Place the transmission in NEUTRAL. Set the parking brake. Raise the power steering fluid temperature to 74 - 80°C (165 - 175°F) by rotating the steering wheel fully to the left and right several times.
6. With the steering wheel in the straight - ahead position, set the engine speed to 2,100 rpm. Record the flow rate and pressure readings.
-If the flow rate is below the flow rate specification, continue with the test procedure.
-If the pressure reading is above the maximum pressure specification, check the power steering hoses for kinks and restrictions.
7. Partially close the gate valve to obtain 750 psi . Set the engine speed at idle. Record the flow rate.
-If the flow is less than the specified flow rate, install a new power steering pump.
Do not allow the gate valve to remain closed for more than 5 seconds. Completely close and partially open the gate valve 3 times. Record the pressure relief valve actuation pressure reading.
-If the pressure does not meet the relief pressure specification, then install a new power steering pump.
9. Set engine speed to 2,100 rpm. Record the flow rate.
-If the flow rate varies more than 3.785 liters/minute (1 gallon minute) from the initial flow rate reading, install a new power steering pump.
Do not hold the steering wheel against the stops for more than 3 to 5 seconds at a time. Damage to the power steering pump can occur. Set the engine speed at idle. Turn (or have an assistant turn) the steering wheel to the left and right stops. Record flow rate and pressure readings at the stops.
-The pressure reading at both stops should be nearly the same as the maximum pump relief pressure.
-The flow rate should drop below 1.9 liters/minute (0.5 gallons/minute).
-If the pressure does not reach the maximum pump relief pressure or the flow rate does not drop below the specified value, excessive internal leakage is occurring. Install a new steering gear as necessary.
11. Turn (or have an assistant turn) the steering wheel slightly in both directions and release quickly while watching the pressure gauge.
-The pressure reading should move from the normal back pressure reading and snap back as the steering wheel is released.
-If the pressure returns slowly or sticks, the rotary valve in the steering gear is sticking or the steering column is binding. Check the steering column and linkages before repairing the steering gear.