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Ok, been searching all day and haven't come up with much. Anyone that has any knowledge they'd link to share or a link I missed, it would be much appreciated.

I've got a '98 Taco, regular cab 4x4, bought it about 3 years ago. The steering has always seemed a bit light. Made a nice loud whine today so I checked the fluid and topped it off. Just curious as to specifically what I should be looking at when I go to check out the steering. What are the signs the rack is going? Obviously I'll check for leaks and clean things up a bit, what else should I be looking for? When hot the fluid was in the middle of the cold mark on the dipstick (really low), is there a chance that there's air in the system?

I've got a lot of basic knowledge, but steering is one thing I haven't had to deal with yet.

Thanks in advance.

-Dan
 

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The noise you're describing comes from the power steering pump. Lack of fluid, etc. I had a 96 Runner that made a whining noise all the time... hooked up some testing equipment to the pump and found that it was working at almost double the pressure. My options were to live with it until it grenaded, replace it or rebuild it. Rebuilding is the cheapest way to fix internal issues with the pump. But testing pressure, etc takes specialized equipment

To check the rack for leaking, remove the clamp on the outer boots. Pry the boot from the rack with a screwdriver and see if any fluids come out. The booted area should be dry. Also make sure while your turning the rack there isn't binding anywhere and that everything looks straight. In my experience leaking seems to be the number one reason racks are replaced... Thats a start. To see if there's air in the lines, remove the cover and turn the steering wheel from lock to lock (don't hold it there) with the engine running allowing any air to bleed out. If the fluid level got low enough there is a chance that air got into the system although air should come out by just running the engine. Check your lines for tightness and leaks... just simple stuff. :dunno:
 

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sexy.taco said:
The noise you're describing comes from the power steering pump. Lack of fluid, etc. I had a 96 Runner that made a whining noise all the time... hooked up some testing equipment to the pump and found that it was working at almost double the pressure. My options were to live with it until it grenaded, replace it or rebuild it. Rebuilding is the cheapest way to fix internal issues with the pump. But testing pressure, etc takes specialized equipment

To check the rack for leaking, remove the clamp on the outer boots. Pry the boot from the rack with a screwdriver and see if any fluids come out. The booted area should be dry. Also make sure while your turning the rack there isn't binding anywhere and that everything looks straight. In my experience leaking seems to be the number one reason racks are replaced... Thats a start. To see if there's air in the lines, remove the cover and turn the steering wheel from lock to lock (don't hold it there) with the engine running allowing any air to bleed out. If the fluid level got low enough there is a chance that air got into the system although air should come out by just running the engine. Check your lines for tightness and leaks... just simple stuff. :dunno:
Thanks for the info, I topped off the fluid and I'm no longer getting any whines from the pump. The steering is the same as it's always been, little play on center but other than that no excess play. It just feels very light. I'm going to go through everything while I'm home this weekend. Thanks for the tips.
 

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No problem... given what you've said, appears it was just low fluid level. I would look for leaks to ensure you're not loosing fluid anywhere and then casually monitor fluid level, for example, when changing your oil. But I would definitally check the boots on the rack, the number one reason we've found racks bad is they begin to leak and customer complain of a whining noise while turning. Although I've only seen a handfull Taco racks go bad. The steering on a new vehicle will be a lot tighter than one that is 9 years old with some mileage, I don't know if I would be too concerned about that depending on the severity :eek:
 
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