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Old 01-05-2006, 12:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Power steering run dry - damage? Time to sell?

A week ago I noticed a steering-related groan coming from my 1990 2.2L 5SFE Celica. The noise is coming from the front right passenger side. A few searches on TN indicated that my power steering pump is probably the source of the groan. I checked the PS fluid level - it was fine. That was a week ago.

Did not have time to really diagnose the problem until last night. I popped the hood and found that the power steering had run bone dry and upon closer inspection I found that the high pressure hose is leaking badly.

Question 1: is it likely I've also killed the power steering pump by running it dry for a couple days? The steering still functions fine, it's just noisy. When the engine is warm, the noise is nearly impossible to hear.

Question 2: Over the last year, little things have started to die one after the other on my 15 year old car (hoses, radiator, seals, etc). I've been replacing a part about every 4 months. I'm wondering if I fork over the cash to replace this hose, what other things I'll be dealing with a few months from now? It's getting expensive to keep my Celly, maybe I should just fill the PS reservoir and give it to charity, or sell it? Thoughts?

Here's what I've replaced in the last year:
- Radiator, upper/lower hoses ($240)
- Valve cover seal was leaking oil ($90)
- Tune up - all plugs, wires, dist, fuel filter ($220)
- Power antannae died - ($15 for fixed mast)
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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When you checked the power steeinrg, was the car on? you need to have the engine running to see the level. And selling it wont get you much, I know guys here in toronto selling 5sfe engines for like 100-150 dollars. You can easily keep the car and if you ever want get a 5sfe engine for dirt cheap
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Actually, no, car was off - I didn't know it was supposed to be on. I will have to check it again tonight with the engine running, thanks for that info! Still, you can see PS fluid all over the back of the engine, and I know it's the hose that is leaking.

Engine wise, most of the components are fine. The compression is good, it's not leaking too much oil, tranny is shifting fine - it's just that the other components are crapping out pretty regularly. For example, it's on the original alternator, so can I expect that to die some day...or maybe not? It's kind of a guessing game with a car 15 years old.

I'm just curious if others have been in this situation, and what they've done.
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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anyone with a celi has had problems when they are this old, but they arent major. Alternators die pretty easy in the cold weather...but you can get em at a wrecker for like 50 bucks if not less. I duno why your valve cover seal was 90 bucks, mine was like 30 CND. But once you fix these things and you use decent new parts they shouldnt resurface for a while. Do you do any of the work yourself?
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, I do some of the work. If it's something I think I can handle without screwing things up I do it myself. Valve cover was done by the shop, it was about $45 for labor. I don't have a torque wrench so I figured I'd let the shop do it. Same shop did the tuneup, but I did the radiator and I've done my own brakes. It probably takes me 3x as long as a shop would, so it's kinda like, "Gee...spend my whole Saturday doing this, or let someone else do it in 2 hours..."

The real killer is that I've been to practically every wrecking shop in town and none of them have any Celis - all they carry are Ford, GM, and Chevy. I have to buy stuff off the 'net if I want used/remans.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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what about camrys? 5sfe are also camry engines
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It's only a hose. Go buy one and replace it. You can get a used one for like $15 at the salvage yard if money is tight. Worry about the pump later. I would guess it's fine after only a couple of days like that. The noise is probably because you're just not getting the required pressure due to of the leaky hose.

The more work you do yourself the less time it takes to do things. With the amount of money the shops charge nowdays with all their overhead I find it's almost always worth doing it yourself. Even if you have to buy some tools to do it. You get the tools for the price it would have cost to have the garage do it for you.
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Old 01-06-2006, 12:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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no damage

If the powered steering was empty the steering would be so heavy you could not safely drive the car, as long as there is a little oil in the system the components will be fine. The noise you are hearing is when it is circulating air in the pump. Just because the reservoir was empty doesn'y mean there isn't enough to keep the system running OK. Replace the pipe and you will be fine (unless you have done anymore driving). hope i have benn some help
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi all -

First, thank you all for the replies. I really appreciate the info, as I'm not very familiar with the 5SFE. I can tell you anything you need to know about Nissan Xterras though (My Celica is my daily driver, the Xterra is my hauling truck. Gets about 1/2 the gas mileage that my Celica does though!)

Second, last night I started her up and let 'er run for a bit before checking the fluid level again. It's still so low I can't even measure/see it, but I figure I'll get some fluid today and add a bit just to confirm it's leaking where I think it is. I'm almost certain it's the high pressure hose, it looks like someone sneezed PS fluid all over the back of the engine.

Thanks again for the info, I'll post some pics once I get the replacement hose on, maybe that will help others in the future.
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