Re: 96 Ford Taurus tight power steering
I agree with T-bird's post about checking the suspension components first-- I would also suggest checking the steering knuckles at the steering column to be sure they're sufficiently lubricated and not binding. I had this exact issue with a '98 Taurus, and here's what I found: After confirming that the ball joints/struts and steering knuckles weren't the problem, I next turned my attention to the rack and pump. I wasn't completely convinced that either of these were the problem, as the pump was quiet as a church mouse and the steering wasn't herky-jerky like a classic rack failure. The steering was just tight; not dead, but about 50% there. Long story short, it turns out that the GEM module had failed. If your Taurus has VAPS,(variable assist power steering), this could very well be the culprit. The GEM module is mounted on the back of the fuse panel adjacent to the brake pedal and controls VAPS, which gives you full power steering at a dead stop or low speeds, but reduces it at higher speeds to improve road feel. In layman's terms, when the module fails it tells the PCM (powertrain control module) that the vehicle is at speed even when it isn't moving, and as such cuts the power assist in half. Ford discontinued manufacturing replacement GEM modules for my model year Taurus, so I had to find one at the salvage yard for about 50 dollars. It's imperative that the part numbers match if you go this route, and there's about a 50/50 chance that it will have to be programmed at the dealer before it functions properly. Good luck!