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Power Steering Pump Replacement

Power steering pumps do not last for ever.  Heat is one of the biggest enemies of your pump and its power steering fluid.  You've probably heard your pump whining when it gets used heavily....a sign that it is certainly getting hot and worse, it may be getting near the end of its life. At over 60K miles, the factory power steering pump on my TJ was still going strong, even after years of pushing 35" tires around.  I know of friends who have replaced theirs with less miles than mine.  My pump replacement came about as a result of my installing a Hydroboost brake system.  My wrenchin' buddy, MikeW, donated a day to help with the Hydroboost install.  I've decided to split out the power steering pump portion  of the project and write it up separately to make it easier for folks who need to do just a pump change out.

Replacing the pump is pretty straight forward.  Remove the serpentine belt, remove the pump, install the new pump, replace the belt, bleed the pump, enjoy your power steering again.  OK, maybe it is not quite that simple but give or take a little bit, it's not much more difficult that that.  If you have done other wrenching projects on your engine, such as an alternator or water pump replacement, you already have a pretty good idea of what this project will be like.

Before you get started on the replacement, do yourself a BIG favor and pick up a power steering pump pulley puller (yeah, say that 3 times really fast).  I could not imagine trying to remove the pulley from the old pump without using one.  I would NOT recommend using a conventional 3 jaw puller even though it would seem as though it would work.  I am pretty sure the power steering pulley would warp/bend given its lightweight construction.  The local AutoZone store rents specialty tools for free.  You put down a deposit (it was $40 for the puller) using your credit card and when you return the tool, your card is credited back the deposit.  Can't go wrong on a deal like that. get started, you need to loosen the bolt that holds the belt tensioner pulley in place.  Before doing so, note the tension of the belt (ie., how hard do you have to press to deflect the belt 1/2").  This will be helpful when you retention the belt later unless you have one of those cool tension gauges (which I don't).  The tensioner is located directly below the power steering pulley, as can be seen in the picture above.  Loosen the bolt a couple of turns.  The bracket that holds the tensioner and power steering pump as an adjusting bolt on it that changes the position of the tensioner pulley and thus the belt tension (the linked picture shows the bolt head with a red tinted box around it).  Loosen the adjusting bolt until you can slip the serpentine belt from the power steering pulley.  Note the routing of the serpentine belt to ensure it goes back correctly when the new pump nas been installed. 

With the belt free of the pump pulley, loosen the high pressure line at the pump.  I should mention that now is a good time to have a catch container handy and a wad of paper towels handy just in case it decides to dribble a bit.  No one ever said these jobs were neat and tidy.

The pump is held in place by 3 long bolts that can be accessed through the hole in the pulley.  As can be seen above, a short extension on the end of your ratchet will work nicely to remove the mounting bolts.  Remove 2 of the bolts completely and leave the 3rd loose and holding the pump in place.

OK, we are now at a point where I will pass along my comments on the way I did my replacement because I took the advice of a good friend and the result means you may need to replace a hose.  Not a biggie to do....just let me explain.  In the above picture, the hose clamp I am removing is on the pump's low pressure return line.  As you can see, I cut the hose before I removed the pump from its mounting bracket.  The reasoning behind this destructive removal?  My buddy was replacing his pump some time ago and he did what anyone would normally do when he got to the return line....remove the hose clamp and then twist the hose a bit to break it loose from the fitting before trying to pull the hose off.  When he twisted the hose, the fitting broke off of the reservoir (after all, it is plastic) .  DOH!  Purchasing a replacement reservoir by itself does not seem to be an option at this point in time so one is forced to purchase the pump/reservoir as a unit.  As for me, my new pump did not have a reservoir with it.  If your pump comes with one (they are available that way for about $15 more than just the pump), then you can probably disregard my words of caution and proceed as one normally would with removing the hose.  If it breaks the fitting, no biggie, you already have a new reservoir to replace it.  If you don't break the fitting, you have a spare reservoir that you can sell to some unfortunate person who did it the way my buddy did.  On my '98, the low pressure return hose is an 11/32" diameter hose and is NOT molded into the fitting it attaches to on the steering gearbox (it has a hose clamp there as well).  While I had a new section of 3/8" hose (close enough fit) on hand for just this situation, it is also possible that the factory hose had more than an inch of slack in it and cutting off that little bit would not have made any difference (I didn't bother to check).   So there is the explanation and you have the reasons and facts now to make your own decision as to how you want to handle the return hose where it connects to the reservoir.

With the pump now removed from the mounting bracket and the return hose issue taken care of, I needed to separate the reservoir from the pump body.  There are two metal clips that hold the reservoir in place.  A couple of screw drivers were used to remove to pry the locking clip out of the way while the other was used to push the metal clip off of the pump body. 

With the metal clips removed, I carefully separated the reservoir from the pump body.  A small neck on the reservoir fits down into an opening on the pump body.  There is an o-ring that seals the connection between the pump and the reservoir.  The factory service manual states that a new o-ring should be used for reassembly.   I did not replace the o-ring and have had no subsequent leaks because of it.  Had I done my homework a little better, I would have had a new one on hand.  (I didn't feel like stopping the project to go run down an o-ring so I recycled the existing one.)

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