Car Questions
RepairPal is your advocate for car care advice and guidance

Whining After Power Steering Pump Replacement

(1999 Chevrolet Cavalier)
in Charlotte, NC on June 19, 2009
Hi guys. My automatic '99 Chevy is low mileage (45,000). Don't laugh.;) Well maintained.

Anyway, I had the power steering pump replaced 3 days ago with the assurance that the irritating whinning would disipate within a couple days as the new pump "became lubricated". Needless to say... the noise continues just as before. I wonder if the fluid system should have been flushed, bleed, and refilled?

The noise I speak of is constant, especially in drive. Less in park. Its pitch changes (becomes louder also) at the beginning of shift changes. The noise is less noticable at high speeds (greater than 45mph). A "secondary" noise is also apparent in park, which I assume is also the pump. BTW - The car was tuned about a year ago.

Any suggestions, guys?
Displaying 5 answers & 3 comments
Popular Answer
on June 12, 2010
If it has air in the system,you can bleed it out your self!Eye ball or look at the pully on the pump to see if it is alighned or straight in line with the others and the belt is in a straight line,from one pully to the other!The pump must alighn perfect.
To bleed the system ,you need to jack up both wheels off or clear of the ground.Once cleared turn the wheel slowly from stop to stop in both directions.p/s Pump full and engine running, remove the p/s cap or cover.. Dont turn the steering wheel too hard while steering to the left and right stops.This will only areate the air presently in the system.The air will purge itself from the system while steering in both directions.With the vehicle elevated off the ground.If this dont make it quite the system may have contaminated the new pump and scored the surfaces and the vanes!Check the return line to see that it is tight on the pump body or reservoir!
on June 12, 2010
As it turned out... I ended up replacing engine mounts. The pump was not replaced properly which lead to the need for a second pump. I'm guessing the vibration from the worn engine mounts may have been a catylist for the problem. Funny, I'd always noticed the engine "seemed to vibrate too much (in park)" for about a year before the problem ocurred.

No mechanic, in regular service, ever noticed.

The Chevy is running great now.
on June 19, 2009
Try and make sure the noise you are hearing is coming from the power steering pump. Noise can be caused in a power steering pump due to a worn pump or air mixed in with the fluid. In most cases the pump will be fairly quiet when the wheels are pointed straight ahead and become louder as the steering wheel is turned. The noise you describe does not quite fit that description. The noise you are hearing may be coming from the transmission. One final note on the power steering, if there is air in the system causing some noise it should work it self out after a few days.
on June 22, 2009
Considering what you have been through already you may have a hard time determining the cause of the noise by yourself. It may take a more experienced technician to pinpoint the cause. If the noise can be duplicated in the shop that would be a big help. A stethoscope or other listening device may be necessary to help pinpoint the noise. If indeed the noise is coming from inside the transmission disassembly may be required to determine the cause.
on June 19, 2009
Thanks, Russ.

I've been concerned that the power steering pump was not the problem in the first place... since the "turning the wheel test" never proved anything. All the mechanics seem too quick to jump to that conclusion. The transmission has always been in the back on my mind. In fact, I'm due for a transmission flush on the next oil change. No oddities in shifting that I can't imagine, yet.

Extremely difficult to pinpoint sound anomolies. Any ideas on how an ignorant, like myself, can self-check the transmission supposition? Other symtoms?

Fluid seems fine... checked on last oil change 1,500 miles ago. Can't tell "burnt fluid smell" from a fat ladie's passed gas.

No leaks, either.


BTW - Though my Cavalier only has 45k on it, shouldn't regular servicers' consider the age of the vehicle (in addition to mileage) when determining criterium? Don't fluids "break down" over time?

on January 16, 2011
Check the alignment of the ps pump pulley...(after removing the serpentine belt)
Seated all the way is about 1/16" too far in.(At least it was on my 99 Ford Ranger)
Pull it back and align with a laser pointer or square keystock from another pulley nearby (check for no movement of this reference pulley), and whine will not be there anymore... Ernie
on April 04, 2010
chances are either your belt ider bearing or your belt
tensioner bearing have gone bad. Maybe both as was the case with my 2.2 Cavalier,Good luck.

Chick Z.
on June 06, 2014
It could also be your alternator as well I have a 2002 chevy Impala that I have had look at for the whining and they said a bearing in the alternator was bad....DOES NOT MEAN YOUR ALTERNATOR IS BAD JUST A BEARING
RepairPal estimates are guaranteed at over 2,000 quality certified locations nationwide. Learn more

Similar Questions

View answers to similar questions from RepairPal's community of auto experts and enthusiasts.
Power steering pump is different from 05/17/2003, my truck was built on 05/21/2003 have dealer paperwork so i know, i...
I changed line but could not get cup seal out of rack so I drove it without lines hooked up until pump pulley sheared...
Didn't find what you were looking for?