: 1993-96 Fleetwood Steering issues



cadillacmike68
03-07-05, 04:46 PM
I've seen several posts mentioning the wayward speed sensitive variable steering assist (or whatever GM calls it) "feature" on the 96-96 Fleetwoods.
Lets see if we can get all the issues / symptoms listed here, and I'll try to beat up on a local dealer to see if GM has determined the cause of this and if they have a "fix" for it.

Note: since the Fleetwood was a "limited run" car (only 4 years) it's quite possible that GM decided not to bother with finding out what the hell is wrong with this sub-system:

This is what I have seen so far:

1. The problem manifests itself as an unexpected "steering boost" when driving around a large (sometimes not so large) curve, such as a long 3/4 circle interstate on ramp.

2. It has happened to me in BOTH directions.

3. It is more likely to happen when under light acceleration.

4. It's fairly frequent - happens several times on a thirty mile trip.

FTSS
03-07-05, 07:11 PM
I hear variable assist Roadmasters have the same malady. It's a dam safety issue to be sure. You got the most important symptoms captured.

The TSB from GM will likely take the form of something like, "Replace steering box with one out of an SS and leave all the assist wires off. :yup:

HotRodSaint
03-09-05, 12:02 PM
The TSB from GM will likely take the form of something like, "Replace steering box with one out of an SS and leave all the assist wires off. :yup:

I think the sensitive steering issue is the power steering pump, not the steering box.

But that shouldn't prevent you from switching to an SS box after you fix the pump issue. :)

The box is somewhere down there on my ever longer list of future mod's.


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HotRodSaint
03-09-05, 12:05 PM
I've seen several posts mentioning the wayward speed sensitive variable steering assist (or whatever GM calls it) "feature" on the 96-96 Fleetwoods.

Mine had those symptoms when I first bought it.

But all I did was add steering fluid and it solved the issue.

Others have had to change the pump.

cadillacmike68
03-09-05, 05:33 PM
Power steering pump, eh? I never thought that that would be the cause of the problem, but I'll bring it up with the dealer.

Mine has never lost fluid, so its not leaking,

Any other opinions on the pump as a source of this problem???

carguy16
03-09-05, 10:12 PM
Change the fluid. Dont know if it will help, but thats what I want to do with mine. Get a turky baster for like 4.00 bucks, flush out as much fluid as you can with it, fill it up with fresh fluid. A week later flush out as much fluid as you can, pour in some new fluid, and you should be getting clean fluid, instead of the brown milky fluid I have right now.




Power steering pump, eh? I never thought that that would be the cause of the problem, but I'll bring it up with the dealer.

Mine has never lost fluid, so its not leaking,

Any other opinions on the pump as a source of this problem???

cadillacmike68
03-11-05, 04:32 PM
I'll just use my wife's turkey baster. :lildevil:

I think that's the same one i used when my 1968 Convertible's windshield washer fluid gummed up for not being used in over a year!:bonkers:

theGman
03-11-05, 11:39 PM
I had this same power steering problem with a 70 Chevy pickup and a 78 Ford van; both times I fixed the problem by putting on a new PS pump. Doesn't seem logical at first, but it works.

cadillacmike68
04-13-05, 04:12 PM
I think the problem is solved. I didn't change the pump, but did have the fluid flushed.

However...

I had a bad clunk when backing out of the driveway with the wheels turned all the way in either direction and could duplicate this with a tight fast U-turn on a wide street, so I had the car checked out at the same time.

It was bad upper control arm bushings - and several steering linkage items. No more "steering boost hiccups",

but I still have the clunk!:bonkers:

Note that this is after several other shops have told me the steering / suspension is fine!!!

carguy16
04-13-05, 04:23 PM
I have the same problem:


1.) Hard left or right while turning, steering wheel will pop, and it will feel like the wheel is wobbling a little.

2.) Hitting a bump with the wheels turned hard, it sounds like metal crunching, I had to cringe thinking of it when I watched the guy who was going to tint my windows pulled back into the property with wheels turned hard right and mowing over a bump about 2-4 inches big. :suspense:

I have service records dating from when the car had 30k miles back in 1998, the car would make a popping noise, the dealer said in the service report they greased the steering components and it solved it, I really dont know. I had mine greased a month after I got the car, it dispeared and then came back in a couple weeks. My high pressure and return lines are being replaced in the shop, they rusted out and leaked everywhere, and I also had power steering fluid leaking spitting out of my reservoir. So, unless I had a small leak and some how it was sucking in air bubbles, causing discharge out of the reservoir, this may be the problem. The new hoses, fluid, and bleeding the system really should solve this problem. I hate turning the wheel hard, I feel like im killing the car, and dont want to spend any more money fixing broken parts. Cars are expensive.

I want to tackle my drums in the rear, I read the service manual, its hard, but yet its easy, just follow the instructions step by step. I just need to get some shoes and the right tools.

I think the problem is solved. I didn't change the pump, but did have the fluid flushed.

However...

I had a bad clunk when backing out of the driveway with the wheels turned all the way in either direction and could duplicate this with a tight fast U-turn on a wide street, so I had the car checked out at the same time.

It was bad upper control arm bushings - and several steering likkage items. No more "steering boost hiccups",

but I still have the clunk!:bonkers:

Note that this is after several other shops have told me the steering / suspension is fine!!!

caddycruiser
04-13-05, 05:04 PM
We occasionally get the boost "hiccup" in both the Fleetwood and the Roadmaster around slight bends in the road, but it really isn't too bothersome.

What really bugs me is, in the Fleetwood, when you turn the wheel either fully to the lock, either left or right, and are manuevering around slowly like in a driveway, the front end bangs and pops like something is out of alignment and/or catches when the wheels are turned completely one way or the other.

Any idea what may be causing this? :annoyed:

Broughamadrosis
04-13-05, 05:15 PM
What really bugs me is, in the Fleetwood, when you turn the wheel either fully to the lock, either left or right, and are manuevering around slowly like in a driveway, the front end bangs and pops like something is out of alignment and/or catches when the wheels are turned completely one way or the other.


Try lubing the steering stops - the part on the knuckles that hits the control arms when when the wheel is turned to full lock - in either direction.

caddycruiser
04-14-05, 12:09 PM
Try lubing the steering stops - the part on the knuckles that hits the control arms when when the wheel is turned to full lock - in either direction.

Thanks, I'll take note of that for "the Fleetwood list" when I get home in a month.

codewize
04-14-05, 11:12 PM
Wow, on my 93' Brougham, I have both the random steering boost and the clunking noises mentioned in this thread. I have tried lubing the steering stops but that didn't stop the noises.

I have never gotten anyone to acknowledge the steering boost issue. I think dealers try to avoid the situation.

I also notice that the steering does not automatically come back to center form a turn or curve.

caddycruiser
04-15-05, 09:06 AM
Wow, on my 93' Brougham, I have both the random steering boost and the clunking noises mentioned in this thread. I have tried lubing the steering stops but that didn't stop the noises.

I have never gotten anyone to acknowledge the steering boost issue. I think dealers try to avoid the situation.

I also notice that the steering does not automatically come back to center form a turn or curve.

Yep, these cars sure do tend to have the EXACT same problems. So yours clunks/bangs when turned fully to either lock too? I kept thinking something was out of alignment or lop-sided under there, but this makes me think it's just another one of those "odd FW defects".

N0DIH
04-15-05, 06:57 PM
Anyone have a FSM that can scan me the docs on the steering assist? I want to look at how to override it to NON bypass mode, instead of disconnecting and going to full assist mode.

FWIW, mine is 153K and works fine, I haven't seen any issues.

Is the steering shock absorber binding or bad? OR something else binding and the steering assist is trying to over come it?

codewize
04-16-05, 01:33 PM
I also have a new wondering problem so I think idler are or pitman arm needs replacing. I'm going to take it in for examination and see what they say. I'm also going to specifically request that all steering components and bushings be checked carefully

I'll let you know if any of the problems mentioned in this thread go away after said repairs.

caddycruiser
04-16-05, 02:25 PM
I also have a new wondering problem so I think idler are or pitman arm needs replacing. I'm going to take it in for examination and see what they say. I'm also going to specifically request that all steering components and bushings be checked carefully

I'll let you know if any of the problems mentioned in this thread go away after said repairs.



Yeah, I really think my '93s front end could use a once-over too, since it just hit the 12 year mark and 100k miles. Steers well, but just seems looser than it should be and the banging when fully turned is a sign something is wrong.

N0DIH
04-17-05, 01:38 AM
Yup, mine too, it will soon.

The pitman arm is a "non wear item" according to GM. The idler arm and drag link as well as the tie rods are wear items. As well as the rag joint between the box and the column. That one gave me fits for a year or 2 before I figured out that my problem was the rag joint. After 100K the rag joint according Scott Mueller likely needs to be replaced.

I'll bet PST has a rebuild kit for the B/D cars by now.

codewize
04-19-05, 05:05 PM
So I just returned from the shop and they tell me that the front end is very tight and there is nothing wrong.


So back to the question, why does the car sway side-to-side as if I'm behind a truck all the time. Whenever I'm going faster than say 60, the car feels like it's in the wake of a tractor-trailer.

ShadowLvr400
04-19-05, 05:16 PM
That could be alignment... could be a bum tire... sway bar? nah...

N0DIH
04-19-05, 07:31 PM
Mine was a poorly tightened front sway bar end link. It had nearly 1 full inch of clearance between the bushing and the bolt end! Rode nice....

Check the steering rag joint. this is likely the problem if the other parts are good.

You have to remove the grey cover around it at the entrance to the steering box. Just follow the steering column shaft down. Remove that grey cover. Then have someone turn the wheel back and forth and see how much play there is between the steering wheel moving and the suspension starting to move. Nearly ANY play there is bad behind the wheel. It will be wandering all over the road. As well as follow ruts in the road and require you to "deal" with the steering more. Once I fixed mine on my 80 TTA it was fine.

codewize
04-19-05, 09:27 PM
Wow that sounds like it. It does grab ruts and even the smallest bump sends the cars swaying. The swaybars were checked out today. The guy claims they're tight.

I'll check the rag joint as soon as I have some time.

N0DIH
04-19-05, 09:38 PM
I fought with it on my T/A for years before I figured it out. It was BAD then. And big tires made it worse.

Scott Mueller recommended it on mine, said with 150K miles it for sure would need it.

Now, the question: Can I install a U-Joint instead of a rag joint? Something that is always perfectly connected? I wouldn't mind the more solid connection on it.

FTSS
04-20-05, 12:12 AM
Codewise, - (Edit: just saw posts on page 2 here, but still say) More than likely needs a front end alignment, specifically the toe-out (causes fishing). Are the insides wearing faster?

NODIH - I'll scan a bunch out of the FSM. Send me your e-mail to bXmXaXbXrXyX@XaXbXeXrXiXcXi.XcXoXm without the Xes of course. I would love to be able to disable VA.

Katshot
04-20-05, 12:12 PM
There are many weak points in our steering systems. The ball joints (mainly the lowers) tend to wear prematurely. So do the center links, tie-rod ends, and idler arms. The problem I've found over the years is that a "combined" loosness is more the problem than any one part alone. If mechanics look at everything individually, they may seem ok but even what would seem to be "normal" wear on the individual components can combine to give a rather loose feel. Couple that with an alignment that's not proper and these cars can feel real bad on the road at times.
As for the VSS system, the whole thing is controlled by a variable oriface on the outlet side of the P/S pump. Unfortunately, in the event of any system problems, the system defaults to full boost. Other than replacing the outlet valve with a non-variable one, you're gonna be stuck.
As for the changing boost, this phenominon mainly happens when making long sweeping turns like freeway off-ramps etc. This is caused by the rotation sensor picking up the excessive movement in the column caused by the worn steering gear. It seems the system works fine on a low-mileage, tight box but as the steering gear gets worn and loose, the system doesn't know what to do with the extra rotation and sees it as an emergency manuever. As is programmed into the system, it then reverts to full boost to aid in the manuever. We used to simply unplug the rotation sensor, and the problem disappeared. Obviously, the best solution is to replace the steering gear with a better ratio one (like one from an Impala SS) and replace the valve on the pump with one from a non-VSS car (again like an Impala SS).

N0DIH
04-20-05, 01:44 PM
Another contributing issue to wear these days is taking the cars to oil change shops, they often forget or do not lube the chassis anymore. Many cars are coming with "lubed for life" joints, but our cars still need it. There are 11 fittings to be greased. By looking at the crud on my fittings and the amount of grease I needed to put into them to get them to fill at all supports this. Thanks JiffyLube....

I am sure Katshot didn't have that issue with them doing maint in house, but it hurts our "civilian" cars.

Katshot
04-20-05, 01:51 PM
Another contributing issue to wear these days is taking the cars to oil change shops, they often forget or do not lube the chassis anymore. Many cars are coming with "lubed for life" joints, but our cars still need it. There are 11 fittings to be greased. By looking at the crud on my fittings and the amount of grease I needed to put into them to get them to fill at all supports this. Thanks JiffyLube....

I am sure Katshot didn't have that issue with them doing maint in house, but it hurts our "civilian" cars.

You're right. But there is also a flip-side to it too. OVER-greasing can be just as bad, and I had PLENTY of those guys to contend with.
I can't tell you how many times I'd see guys pushing grease into a joint until it pops out past the seal. They seem to feel that seeing grease pop out means they've put enough in. WRONG! They just either destroyed the seal or at least gave dirt and moisture a clear path to the joint.

N0DIH
04-20-05, 07:16 PM
I was taught by my dad to pump it up till the seal starts to move.

Good rule of thumb?

ocjmakaveli
04-20-05, 11:35 PM
oops im a grease bandit i always see the grease coming out then i stop ill try to cut down on the grease usage lol :nono:

codewize
04-22-05, 09:49 PM
Ok so I'm going to have an alignment done. After I check out the rag joint. I would be into changing the steering box anyway so what's something like that cost and is the Impalla SS a direct replacement? No retro fitting?

cadillacmike68
04-26-05, 11:18 AM
Try lubing the steering stops - the part on the knuckles that hits the control arms when when the wheel is turned to full lock - in either direction.

This is EXACTLY what the dealer said to do. That should alleviate the clunking when the wheel is all the way over and you go in or out a driveway, etc. I guess the dealers are not always evile money grubbers.

On the steering:

My steering issues are GONE. Flushed the fluid (don't know if it helped), but also changed all 4 tie rod ends, center link, and idler. All were loose (165,000 miles!) and steering is TIGHT (well tight for a Fleetwood!) with no more kinks / glitches!:D

cadillacmike68
04-26-05, 11:29 AM
There are many weak points in our steering systems. The ball joints (mainly the lowers) tend to wear prematurely. So do the center links, tie-rod ends, and idler arms. The problem I've found over the years is that a "combined" loosness is more the problem than any one part alone. If mechanics look at everything individually, they may seem ok but even what would seem to be "normal" wear on the individual components can combine to give a rather loose feel. Couple that with an alignment that's not proper and these cars can feel real bad on the road at times.
As for the VSS system, the whole thing is controlled by a variable oriface on the outlet side of the P/S pump. Unfortunately, in the event of any system problems, the system defaults to full boost. Other than replacing the outlet valve with a non-variable one, you're gonna be stuck.
As for the changing boost, this phenominon mainly happens when making long sweeping turns like freeway off-ramps etc. This is caused by the rotation sensor picking up the excessive movement in the column caused by the worn steering gear. It seems the system works fine on a low-mileage, tight box but as the steering gear gets worn and loose, the system doesn't know what to do with the extra rotation and sees it as an emergency manuever. As is programmed into the system, it then reverts to full boost to aid in the manuever. We used to simply unplug the rotation sensor, and the problem disappeared. Obviously, the best solution is to replace the steering gear with a better ratio one (like one from an Impala SS) and replace the valve on the pump with one from a non-VSS car (again like an Impala SS).

Put a CHEVY part in a CADILLAC NO WAY! :want:

But seriously, it was a combination of several slightly worn steering linkages that was causing my steering issue. And the steering stops needing grease, which the dealer said waould not last forever! would alleviate the clunk when the wheels are a full lock.
\
Next problem!

(like the GAS Gauge)

codewize
05-01-05, 08:43 PM
Ok so here's my findings. I don't know whats normal for a rag joint but there is no rotational or side to side play that I can see. There is about a 1/4 inch of plunge play.