notchy steering turning left only - is the rack the only likely cause? - Wheels In Motion -

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notchy steering turning left only - is the rack the only likely cause?


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#1 irw


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Posted 28 November 2014 - 06:06 PM

Is the rack the most likely culprit here, or are there other (simpler, cheaper) checks/replacements which should be done first?


And, has anyone else had the same problem?


Any advice will be appreciated.


Mondeo Mk4 Estate 2.2 Diesel, 08 plate.


The following symptoms appear when stationary or barely moving.


(1) When I start to turn the steering wheel left, there is a resistance. It clears with a slight knock as the steering wheel is turned further. If I stop turning (release the steering wheel) and resume, the resistance and knock occur again. This happens at any point throughout the steering (not just at neutral/straight ahead). When steering right there is no such resistance or knock.


(2) Whilst I am turning the steering wheel left, there is as much as half a turn immediately before full left lock where there is sluggishness or resistance, accompanied by increased wheeziness in the system (noticeably more than what you get when trying to turn past full lock). When turning right it is smooth right up until full lock.


(3) These are most noticeable when the car is cold. As it warms up, the knock and resistance diminish to almost nothing, but are still there.


The dealer said the steering rack was good. At the dealer's recommendation, the steering fluid and reservoir have been replaced. They reported the problem cleared on Thursday night, but on Friday morning when I collected the car, the problem was immediately apparent as still present, so I suspect they've been caught out by (3).


A forum search turned up a single reference to notchy steering in only one direction ( which might refer to a Mk2 (not clear). Other posts refer to notchiness in both directions and only when passing neutral/straight ahead. That post said that a steering rack replacement cured the problem.


As that's probably the most expensive fix, I want to ensure it's the correct one for me. I've also learned that the dealer's ability to correctly diagnose problems seems to be limited to following standard procedures with no independent thinking. They're fine if you can tell them exactly what's broken, and service is otherwise very good, but I don't want to spend money on unnecessary parts. This is Evans Halshaw Altrincham.


To me, resistance and sudden release suggest a sticking valve or piston somewhere in the hydraulics (either of which could of course be inside the rack). Being only in one direction suggests there could be two such valves or pistons and only one is sticking. As it happens only at or near stationary, I'd guess that maybe the valve is not completely closed (stuck) except at that time. But I'm only an analyst, not a car mechanic.


#2 irw


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Posted 22 December 2014 - 07:00 PM

There is closure on this. Short version - it was the steering rack, although it took a complete failure before it was finally replaced.


Conclusions first since most won't want to read the saga. The best guess I've heard having bounced this off a few people is that the cylinder or piston (inside the rack) had a leak and fluid was appearing on the "wrong side". This would explain the resistance and wheeziness - it's the fluid being forced back to the "correct side" when that space is eliminated near left lock. Whether that's true depends on actual rack construction. It could also be a stuck valve or buildup of crud somewhere - possibly internal corrosion caused by water absorbed into the fluid over time.


Whatever it was, from now on I'd advise anyone with PAS issues affecting one direction in particular to get the whole system thoroughly checked (and don't just describe any weird behaviour - drag someone out and demonstrate it).


The car went in a total of 4 times.

  1. As described before, where they advised and carried out replacement of the reservoir and fluid. They noted at the time that the fluid looked in poor condition.
  2. A few days after that, because (1) seemed to have made things worse, and certainly no better. On the second occasion they drained, flushed and replaced the fluid. This reduced the notchiness to almost imperceptible (unless you were looking for it). We agreed to see how it behaved. No charge for that work.
  3. A week or so later, fortunately as I was parking in the office car park and not driving on the M6, the PAS failed and pumped fluid out onto the floor. Called out recovery to get the car back to Altrincham. One of the high pressure hoses had blown. They replaced this and as a precaution all the O-rings as well. No charge for that work either. However, on collection I found the resistance + audible wheeziness near full left lock remained, so I demonstrated it to one of the service staff. I did not want another total PAS failure and the blown hose looked to me a lot like another symptom - excess pressure in the wrong place. They agreed to take another look.
  4. Final diagnosis - the rack needs replacement. With that done today, all seems good and the steering is by comparison noticeably lighter - presumably not noticed before because it's got worse slowly over time.

The normal cost for the rack replacement would be £1018, but I pointed out that the reservoir replacement (about £120) was really unnecessary work which they advised and for which I'd been charged, so they agreed to reduce by 10% to £916. Always worth asking (and being nice about it).


Yes - could have been cheaper elsewhere; but getting a part and someone to fit it at short notice is not easy; and I would not have been able to argue the compromise on price.


I'm also not hugely bothered that it took four times, since they didn't charge for the work which didn't achieve anything. In fact, had it NOT been the rack, replacing it pre-emptively would have been a costly waste.

#3 WeejiST


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  • Name:Guy Lyon
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Posted 04 January 2015 - 11:24 PM

I use to have a Mk3 Mondeo ST with the same problem. Everyone I spoke to about this looked at me as if I had just grown horns. Some would say just replace your rack and it should be sorted. 😖👿

However one of my colleagues said see if you can get some Slick 50 type of steering fluid additive. I tried my local Motor Factors, again no joy. Eventually I bit the bullet and went to my local Halfrauds and they indeed have Power Steering Fluid with some extra additive.😀

I was selling the ST in to a local garage for cash on the Wednesday, having picked up up my Mk4 TXS the previous Friday, I new it would be really stiff at sale time, it was the only thing that was letting the car down.😳😳

I got the kids Neurofen Syringe out and extracted a pile of old fluid from the fluid resovair and replaced it with the new stuff.😛😛

Hey presto it worked slight stiffness on initial turn out the driveway but driving up my street when I would normally feel the stiffness it was really smooth. A wee £5.99 or £7.99 fix😀😃😜👌

(I dare say if I had tried this earlier I would probably still have the ST and not be skint after buying the Mk4 TXS, but I cannae admit that to the Mrs) 😬😳😬😳

#4 Clivewyn


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Posted 30 December 2019 - 08:15 AM

I also have a similar very slight knock happening at seemingly random places on the steering, again seems worse when cold.

The car is Mondeo Titanium x 1.5 boost 160hp.2017

As the car is still under warranty,if anything needs doing I would like to have it done now! but am worried a dealership might not want to admit its a problem because of cost!

The car has only done 10,000 miles

Any ideas please

Edited by Clivewyn, 30 December 2019 - 08:19 AM.

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