: Power Steering Solenoid question - techs and gurus please respond!



DRKSIDE
12-17-10, 10:58 AM
I know this is a long post but the story is important to get a full understanding of the problem. If you are a tech and have input on the actual question you can skip down and decide if you need to come back up and get more info. If you are a lawyer, please read fully! lol

I had to get a new power steering rack for my '04 CTS-V. The symptoms included pretty much every one; cold start whining that increases/decreases with RPM's and when turning the steering wheel, clunking noise from the front of the car on uneven pavement, uneven tire wear on the front tires (inside shredded to the bands and outside looked new) and of course the obvious one... leaking from the unit itself.

First, the back story:
When I went to the dealer with the issues above, they told me I needed several things to fix the problems.

New right upper control arm (the clunking noise) All four shocks (due to the uneven tire wear) A new power steering pump (as I had already replaced the high pressure line from another dealer's diagnosis of a power steering leak)

Now, the first dealer I went to replaced the high pressure hose because they said they found a leak in it. They also said the pump was good and didn't need replacing. But my confidence in their diagnosis was shattered when the symptoms returned just a couple of days later. I went to this new dealer when the other dealer made this mistake and the new dealer said that actually the pump was bad and needed to be replaced.

I hesitated on the suspension parts (especially the recommendation to replace all four shocks - two I might have understood better) but with 114,000 miles on the car I gave the go ahead and took the opportunity to upgrade to the FG2 shocks (which were about $400 more) based on their confidence that it would fix the symptoms I described. I had suspected that the upper control arm was the culprit of the clunking noise in the first place and I mentioned that it may need to be checked when I took the car in.

Of course when I picked up the car and paid over $4000.00 for the work and parts :helpless: I was shocked (pun intended :bigroll: ) that the clunking noise was still there as I rode down a slightly bumpy road! But because I had just shelled out so much money to fix the issue, I put a mental block on the noise to keep from throwing up.

Two days later, I started my car in the garage and the whine in the steering was back. No, not just a slight "whee, whee, whee" when I turn the wheel... I am talking a "ROAR, ROAR, ROAR" that wakes the neighbors! Also, I observed power steering fluid (just a few drops) on my garage floor. :banghead:

I took the car back to the dealer. I know, I know... mistake... but I wanted them to see how they had misdiagnosed the problem and cost me major bucks. They confirmed that the steering rack had a leak and recommended that I replace it. As anyone who has a bad steering rack right now can tell you, the solenoid that controls the flow of the fluid through the rack (VES solenoid) is on NATIONAL BACKORDER. The rack can't be ordered without the unit because GM sells it as a complete unit. I did however find a refurbished rack (without solenoid) online for less than half what the dealer quoted me on a refurbished part and I ordered it with overnight delivery. I figured that was ok since the rack had a leak and the solenoid didn't throw a code in the system and should be still good.

They installed the rack in the car but when I got my core rack back to send to the company I bought the refurb from, they didn't give me the solenoid that was in my rack. They ALSO didn't install it in the refurbished rack in the car! They said that the solenoid was bad.

HERE IS MY QUESTION (finally): If the solenoid was bad, wouldn't I have had a "CHECK STEERING SYSTEM" message on my DIC? Wouldn't the bad solenoid have thrown a code (like a C1241 - Variable Effort Steering Circuit Malfunction) causing the message? :hmm: I never had a message on the DIC or a warning light of any kind... just a leak in the rack itself. I don't mean to imply that the tech would keep a part that is on national backorder and use it for himself or another car for a friend or sell it on eBay or Craigslist (because I checked both). :suspect: I am just thinking that since the manual calls for complete replacement of the rack (that includes the solenoid) he might have discarded it without even checking to see if it was bad in the first place thinking the new rack would have one or that they could get me to order another part I don't need.

Couldn't he have installed the old solenoid in my refurbished rack and saved me trying to find one in a supply-weak market?

QUESTION 2: If the solenoid was bad. Wouldn't it have failed in the closed position? My understanding (from the explanation in the FAQ: http://www.cadillacfaq.com/faq/answers/pwrsteer.html ) is that if it failed in the open position (which is unlikely) I would have had no assist from the power steering system at any speed and it would be harder to turn the wheel at low speeds. (I never had this problem) If it failed in the closed position (more likely) it would have given full assist at all speeds making highway driving feel too sensitive. (Also didn't have this problem)

PS. I called the dealer to see if they still had the solenoid. They are "checking" for me. :bomb:

PSS. I know the dealer's owner personally. I already had a conference with the him and his service manager about the whole misdiagnosis and subsequent unnecessary draining of my bank account. The service manager said he appreciated me not coming down there and strangling him. The owner said he is "really sorry that this happened". :beat: Merry Christmas to him, I guess.

Houdini
12-17-10, 05:53 PM
Sorry I can't answer your questions but good grief that is a ton of money to spend and not have it fixed. Sorry you had to go through all of that. I'm getting sick of all these 'back-ordered' parts for our Vs. It seems like every V part is backordered. I'm currently still waiting on sway bushings, sun roof frame, and shifter knob/boot/bushings. I'm sick of waiting but my grief is nothing in comparison to yours. Good luck man.

repenttokyo
12-17-10, 06:00 PM
Sorry I can't answer your questions but good grief that is a ton of money to spend and not have it fixed. Sorry you had to go through all of that. I'm getting sick of all these 'back-ordered' parts for our Vs. It seems like every V part is backordered. I'm currently still waiting on sway bushings, sun roof frame, and shifter knob/boot/bushings. I'm sick of waiting but my grief is nothing in comparison to yours. Good luck man.

you can get poly bushings from UUC for the shifter that are affordable and good - I installed them this fall.

CadzillaTN
12-17-10, 06:31 PM
My rack is completely shot. No codes.

RoverGuy7
12-17-10, 11:50 PM
for starters, i dont think its a bad thing to go back to the same dealer that misdiagnosed it, as long as you, calmly, have them pick up some of the expense for it, mostly the incorrect repairs being done that didnt fix the problems. as to the code, it wouldnt necessarily throw a code, as the codes are only for circuit integrity, not actual function... but you would be able to feel if it was bad. where did they get the solenoid they installed if its on backorder? find a dealer and advisor you get along with that treats you right and stick with that dealer, dont jump around. im the shop foreman of a land rover dealership, lots of issues with those cars, but customers that are loyal and have a good relationship with us do get taken care of better, just how it goes... if they cant fix a problem after trying more then once, find somewhere else, but id always give them the chance to make it right

kevm14
12-18-10, 12:31 AM
That clunking on bumpy roads is probably the sway bar bushings. Evidently the dealers don't disconnect an end-link before checking because you can't tell by wiggling the bar unless you disconnect an end link. This fooled two dealers until I got under the car myself. And the bushings, as Houdini mentioned, are on back order. Oh, I did get a shifter boot/knob/trim in so they are being made I guess.

DRKSIDE
12-23-10, 04:19 PM
Thanks for the advice guys. I did get the part I needed. Luke - "Just call me Merlin" - Butler worked some magic from up at Lindsay. My only other option was to buy a used rack on eBay and just use the solenoid out of it. That option was only about $50 more. At this point, $50 feels like bubble gum money. So with that part I can put an end to this mess next Monday after the dealer installs it and finishes my alignment (on their dime). It turns out the solenoid was bad on my old rack and they installed it in the new one just to fill the hole. Anyway, I had a long discussion with the owner and the service manager and they at least sympathized with my situation. The service manager thanked me for not strangling him. I am glad he appreciated my cool. Of course they are not going to share the expense of the work that I authorized. I would be hard pressed to prove the parts they replaced were still servicable since I don't have them.

Lessons learned.

Junior1
12-23-10, 07:26 PM
Here's my only advice...Obviously you have seen what Luke from Lindsay can do for parts, but the next time your going to drop that kind of money or even that amount of work, drive it up to Lindsay and have have Bill work on it.
It's worth the trip. Stuff like that doesn't take place with those guys...

DRKSIDE
12-27-10, 10:17 AM
Here's my only advice...Obviously you have seen what Luke from Lindsay can do for parts, but the next time your going to drop that kind of money or even that amount of work, drive it up to Lindsay and have have Bill work on it.
It's worth the trip. Stuff like that doesn't take place with those guys...

I wish I could. It's a 9 hour drive from where I live.

PISNUOFF
12-27-10, 10:43 AM
18 hours in a car, one night in a hotel room and seeing our nation's Capitol still sounds cheaper to me.

Junior1
12-28-10, 06:51 PM
Its 5 hours for me and I usually try to match up service with V Days.
But still I'd drive the 9 hours and stay over a night if I were you...