Help! Lost steering after going thru water

ld14051May 16, 2007

I was turning into my driveway and had to drive thru a very small puddle and I lost steering. It was almost impossible to turn the steering wheel. It was as if it was locked up. In the past a loud grinding noise could be heard after going thru water-and I'm talking a little typical puddle one might find in a small pothole or the like, not flood type water. But after driving a few feet the noise would go away. And I never atributed that noise to the steering. I had always thought it was the wheels or brakes.

The frozen steering only lasted a few feet, but if it had happened in an intersection it may have been disasterous.

Anyone have any idea what this could be? An isolated incident or a preview of more trouble?

I have a '99 Taurus with over 105,000 miles. I want to give it to my son soon, but not if it is dangerous.

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replace your belt and make sure the tentioner isn't seized.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 11:48AM
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Ok, thanks. My father suggested same. About how much would that cost and how long would it take at a mechanics?
no one ihere is mechanicaaly inclined.

I checked the power steering fluid. It is an opaque rusty brown color. It that the normal color?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 1:30PM
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No. normal color is clear. your oil is burnt. that is normal for that type of car.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 3:34PM
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Actually, from above it looks opaque. My husband dipped his finger in it to check it(it doesn't have a dip stick) and it is clear amber color.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 8:48PM
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Belt squeal is a common complaint on these vehicles. I think there may be a TSB for a water shield that can be installed to direct the water away from the belts

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 12:46PM
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To: ase_tech and Tarus Owner:

The symptoms most asuredely point to a belt that is too loose. By the comments presented above, it seems that it has slipped before and probably is worn because it has been run for some time while loose. Tightening the belt may be a fix, or it may a short term patch-up for a worn belt. I'd certainly inspect the belt before giving it a clean bill of health. Indications are that it may need replacing.

To the Tarus Owner: One source of overstress of the belt happens when the driver turns the wheel all the way to its stop, either right or left, until he hears squealing of belt slippage, or a hissing noise of the overpressure relief valve. Don't persist in forcing the front wheel against its turn stop. It is not a good practice.

In your case after you wet the belt, you temporarily lost power steering assist and had manual only. You did not "loose" steering, but got a surprise of how hard it was to turn the steering wheel without power assist. The steering wheel was very hard to turn unless the car was rolling some. This is normal - welcome to the days before power steering.

One other desgin feature that was working against you was the gearing is made 'faster' for power assist steering units than for manual. When (in my distant past) manufacturers offered both power and non-power steering, the gear ratios of these steering units were different. The manual unit required more turns of the steering wheel to go from lock-to-lock than for the power unit. This gave a more mechanical advantage to the manual unit.

Can you drive with the power assist disabled? Yes, but you should not drive great distances, but should get it repaired as soon as pratical. Why? Besides driver fatigue and control, power assist takes the lion's share of the load off the steering gear teeth and lengethens its life. Today's rack-and-pinion steering depends on the power assist for longevitiy of the rack gear.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:29PM
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My mom said her steering went out in the rain.
She would slide into neighbors yards, stop and wait for the rain to quit then the steering would work again.

It wasnt her steering, it was her driving corners too fast with the wipers on.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 4:21PM
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This is a very interesting site. It would appear that if a person posts on a topic, He or She may be wasting thier time because certain Mods have a tendancy to erase posts WITHOUT ANY explanation. Reminds of the stories my Grandmother used to tell me about her living in the Czhech republic in 1942.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 12:31AM
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