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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I have a 2001 ford focus that has a weird hissing sound coming from steering, it hisses when the wheel is straight but when I apply pressure against the steering wheel it stops. any idea what the problem could be or the fix?
 

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It's your air bag leaking. Get a new one!

Sorry, couldn't resist that, does it do it at idle or just when the car is in motion?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
airbag ha I wish it was that easy... it does at idle an driving, but stops when I turn or turn the wheel... autozone said it was the steering gear box. is that an easy fix?
 

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It's a steering rack on that car , not a steering box .Check Aussieblues post above , top up fluid if needed and bleed system before getting in too deep with new parts .
 

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thank you all for the feedback, the fluid levels are good, I flushed the system 3 times... before flushing the fluid was terrible dark like oil almost so I flushed it several times turkey baster method. fluid nice and red now. but all lines are fine to the power steering system. just seems backwards that it hisses wheel steering wheel is straight and perfect when you turn the wheel.
 

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Sounds like you have wear in the rack and pinion. Steering wears most at the straight ahead position as that’s the direction of travel most of the time. Wear between the pinion gear and rack teeth creates looseness that may contribute to steering wander and increased feedback (noise or harshness when hitting bumps, for example). By pushing down on the steering wheel you are closing up the wear gap between the teeth on the rack and pinion (in a 16 year old car there will likely also be enough wear in the rack bearings to allow the column to move up and down a millimetre or so) . The wear allows the rack to wobble off line a bit and the hissing is the pump working as you correct for the wobble. In the worse case scenario and in the car has been in an accident a tooth might be broken on the rack (or the pinion) but this would result in very noticeable steering wobble and difficulty keeping the car on track.

Wear in the universal joint in the column above the rack can cause similar issues and again pushing down on the steering wheel may close up the wear in this joint. Open the hood and have someone gently swing the steering wheel back and forth (i.e. until the feel turning resistance on each extreme of the swing) and watch the universal joint to see if the top part of the column above this joint is moving without the part below it moving or if the universal joint makes a slight knocking noise. Also get them to push and pull the steering wheel up and down and see if this joint knocks.

You can check by seeing how much free play you have in the steering at straight ahead compared to half turned in each direction (not at full lock) if you can gently (using one or two strong fingers) swing the steering wheel back and forth without feeling tyre turning resistance much more at the centre position than when half turned this is another sign that the rack teeth are badly worn and/or the universal joint is faulty. But this test can be a bit subjective so it is better if you can also compare it with an identical car with no steering issues. Also any wear in tie rod ball joints, steering rack ends and other steering components will mean more than spec freeplay in all positions of the steering wheel. For more on checking freeplay see https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Dp_LUwqIW7sC&pg=PA643&lpg=PA643&dq=measuring+steering+free+play&source=bl&ots=vwflCwP2tM&sig=61Wrii5kH_rVXgpq-8qQ-f90xqg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjnyOjJ_97RAhWDLpQKHfHNBCMQ6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=measuring steering free play&f=false

But all power steering system make some hissing (although it usually only noticeable with your head under the hood or at low parking speed and in normal use only to the obsessive compulsive with acute hearing notice it) and if it not loud or obnoxious, there are no leaks and the system is otherwise working OK you can probably just ignore it. Otherwise fitting a new steering rack and/or universal joint in the column will probably solve it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Aussi, thanks for that great response... I had my neighbor help me out and we both think its the rack, no obvious knocking from the universal joint. the steering is also solid other than the really loud hissing...I will change the rack this weekend. it just a work car for gas savings but at least hopefully this will make the hour long ride more manageable. thanks again all for the help.
 

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Note if this was the turkey baster flush method you used
it not a flush; you changed the fluid in the pump reservoir, not the lines and rack. But if you changed the rack I am guessing all the fluid in the rack and lines was changed then.
 

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I did a little research and discovered there is a filter/pressure restrictor in the return line similar to an AC orifice tube. Not sure exactly where it will be, but will be located at a fitting where the line separates and the orifice tube will slide in. May even be where it connects at the pump, slid in the pump or the hose end. This may be the problem.



**edit - Shows it could also use the type below.

 
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