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Q: Steering wheel does not turn after car sits in cold weather, power. Any advise? on 1997 Oldsmobile Achieva

My car is 17 years old with power steering. Last month there was an ice storm with cold weather (temps were about 10-20 degrees F)and she sat outside in covered parking for 48 hours. I started her engine and let it run for 15 minutes without any problems. I did not drive her, just let her run to warm her up.

Another 24 hours passed and I started her, she started perfectly, and I as was backing out of my parking spot, the steering wheel would not turn.

After 15 minutes of letting her heat up the steering worked normally- the engine temperature was in green in five minutes and producing heat.

I thought this must have been a fluke, as she ran perfectly and no problems with steering, I attributed it to abnormally cold for four days.

Fast-forward three weeks:

Yesterday, after leaving my car un-driven for 36 hours, I started her and the steering would not work. The coldest it got on outside temperature was 40 deg F. After 15 minutes of letting the engine run, the steering worked.

Today, with a colder overnight of 35 degrees, the steering worked great. I drove her to my trusty mechanic, and he said without the failure of the steering happening where he could observe, he could not find anything wrong. No leaks, plenty of power steering fluid. He wants me to drop off car over next cold days so hopefully it does not start and they can duplicate problem (we all hope it always starts, yet they say that is only way to diagnose problem).

My mechanic is great as the would not do a power steering flush, as it would be taking my money without knowing problem.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

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#1 is perfectly correct; Another thought is when you park your car, turn your wheels to the right before shutting the engine off. The reason I say this is when you restart the engine the steering fluid will circulate through the pump and rack-n-pinion, helping the fluid to warm up before you move the car. You might see if this helps. If it doesn't, the rack will probably need attention. Just a thought.
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A loss of steering assist when cold typically occurs inside the steering rack, and back in the '80s was so common it was nicknamed "morning sickness". If your car has the wrong power steering fluid in it, that could cause this problem. But otherwise your shop is correct, they need to test this while the problem is occurring and proceed from there with their findings.
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