Monday, November 7, 2011

Fixing the Whine From My Ford Explorer V8 Engine.

Friday I set out to finally fix the whine that was coming from my engine. I had a couple of different shops tell me they thought it was the power steering pump and the Fords are notorious for having loud power steering pumps. So when I started to troubleshoot the problem I was a little bias towards my problem and my pre-conceived cause.

I started by removing the serpentine belt from around the power steering pump pulley, A/C pulley, tension pulley, idler pulleys, water pump, etc... After the belt was removed I checked to make sure it wasn't my A/C pulley, top idler pulley and tension pulley bearings by spinning them with my hand to make sure they rolled smoothly. They all checked out.

Now that I had done these checks I just assumed that it had to be the power steering pump. I began to remove it. Surprisingly it wasn't that hard to get out. I had to remove the return hose and the pressure hose, then I was able to take out the four bolts that held it to the pump housing.

After the pump was removed I flushed out the remaining power steering fluid using a turkey baster and air compressor with an air nozzle gun. The power steering fluid was dirty, and the bottom of the power steering reservoir was filled with a black sludge. To clean out the sludge I used some carburetor cleaner and once again saw a clean white filter on the bottom of the reservoir.

Now that I had made it this far I decided I had better find someone who sold my power steering pump and had it in stock. I had made some calls earlier in the week and I had two options. the A1 Cardone rebuilt pump or the Atsco rebuilt pump. I couldn't find anyone in the valley that had the A1 Cardone in stock, but Autozone did have the Atsco, so of course I decided to go with it.

My wife was gone with my daughter to a birthday party so I didn't have a car to go get the pump, and I couldn't get my motorcycle to start. I was going to ride my bike but the tires were flat and I could find my tire nozzle for the air compressor. So now I was stuck with a car that was torn apart and no way to get the parts that I needed.

I was able to get my motorcycle started with the help of a trickle charger (it was getting cold and my bike has a hard time starting in the cold because of the battery) so I was pretty glad that it started. I drove up to Autozone by my house only to find out they didn't have the pump in stock, it was the one farther up the road that did. While I was there I talked to the girl sales associate who knew a lot about Ford trucks and she suggested that I check my idler pulley because they tended to go out a lot on Fords as well. I told her I checked it but made a note to do so again. Off to my second Autozone to pick up my pump and some Lucas power steering fluid.

By the time I got home I needed to get ready for my daughters dance recital so all of my repairs needed to be put on hold until I got home again.

After getting the kids to bed I went back to work on my car. I checked the idler pulley again and it was fine, but then I noticed there was a second idler pulley on the bottom of my engine that I couldn't see from the top, but only from underneath. I check this pulley and sure enough it didn't roll smoothly and I could feel the bearings were worn out.

Now I knew that at least part of my problem was the worn out idler pulley.  Lucky for me my wife was home now so I was able to drive down to O'Reilly's auto parts and pick up a new Gates idler pulley. It was only $15 bucks, and while I was at it I also picked up a new Gates Serpentine belt.

To change out the bottom idler pulley and replace the serpentine belt it took me about 15 minutes. I decided to put my old power steering pump back in and let her rip rather than spending the $50 bucks on a new one just in case the old one was still good. It took me about an hour to put the pump back into my car. I realized there was probably a better order to install things than I choose, but I was able to get the car back together. After bleeding the power steering fluid to remove all of the air bubbles I was ready to test out my work and to see if I found the culprit of my whiny car.

I started my car up and sure enough it was silent. I could actually hear the engine again. It had been so long since I could hear the engine that I forgot what a lovely deep rumbling sound the V8 engine actually made. Sure enough it had been the idler pulley the whole time, when I say the whole time I mean at least a year. Sad thing is that I spent a good part of 5 hours (on and off) working on my car, that had I just tested the pulley first I could have been done in 15-30 minutes.

Live and learn is what I always say. Sure I could be angry about the time that I spent on the car that didn't need to happen, but then I wouldn't have learned about power steering pumps and how they work, and how to replace them.

The moral of my story is to always do your due diligence and don't let pre-conceived notions distract you and lead you down the wrong path. I think this can be applied in many areas of our lives.

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