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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-30-2015, 05:29 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Power Steering Failure Symptoms?

I have an issue with my power steering. It feels "heavy", like there is little power assist at standstill or low speeds. It feels fine once I am moving faster. Not a major problem and something that can wait until the snow melts before I tackle it. I noticed this issue after the car sat for a month this winter while I was gone. When I noticed it a few weeks ago, I thought initially that it might be either my snow tires or low ATF. The ATF was a bit low so I added a bit. No change to the steering. After I changed the snow tires out last week, there was still no difference. The ATF level is still fine. Hence, I see no obvious reason for this issue. I tried searching for symptoms of a failing power steering pump but came up empty. I have the DIY for replacing the pump and will do the fix if I can confirm the cause of my problem. My questions are:

1. Has anyone ever felt a "heavy" steering wheel? If yes, what was the cause?
2. For anyone that has replaced their power steering pump, what were the symptoms prior to your replacement?

Any feedback is appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 03-30-2015, 06:35 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I don't know the answer, but this guy reported "hard steering" so, maybe it can help?
- How to debug power steering problems like hard steering (steering rack and/or pump) (1)
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2015, 06:52 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Have you ever replaced the ATF in the PS system? It may have gone south on you. It doesn't last forever.
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2015, 07:00 PM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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whats the colour on your ATF? is it more brown then red? does it smell or taste slightly burnt? ok ok before the health and safety nazis come out... dont taste it... but I would at least sniff it.. also how does the viscosity feel? take some in your fingers and rub it... kind of grainy? watery feeling??
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  #5  
Old 03-30-2015, 07:48 PM
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TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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Fudman, what you described is exactly what it felt like when my PS pump was on its last legs. Sitting at a stop sign, I'd start turning the wheel from idle and it would be very difficult to turn. But as I accelerated through the turn, it suddenly became like normal, nice and easy.

I was diligent about fluid changes too
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Last edited by TheHockeytowner; 03-30-2015 at 08:19 PM.
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  #6  
Old 03-30-2015, 08:15 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Replace the pump and all will be fine.
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  #7  
Old 03-30-2015, 09:36 PM
Sroor9001 Sroor9001 is offline
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Hi friend first thing you have mentioned it
It feels fine once I am moving faster this is the first sign
Second one heavey steering on Low speed
Also there is wheeze sound if you move steering from lock to lock in some cases
Bu defiently yours is toasted
Change it and have a redbull drink hahahahaha
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  #8  
Old 03-30-2015, 09:40 PM
Sroor9001 Sroor9001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
whats the colour on your ATF? is it more brown then red? does it smell or taste slightly burnt? ok ok before the health and safety nazis come out... dont taste it... but I would at least sniff it.. also how does the viscosity feel? take some in your fingers and rub it... kind of grainy? watery feeling??
What did you say
I'am pharmacist and if some body say like that to me I'll ask him to com and taste and sniff from that oil and teach me how to do it and I'll never do it hahahahaha
Friend it's watery texture that ATF it's like this but the thing is that you do flush from time to time every 2 years to avoid it being black once you changed the oil
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  #9  
Old 03-31-2015, 02:49 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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Symptoms of a failing PS pump include low power assist, like the OP described. Especially at low rpm. And/or buzzing noise from the pump vanes that are proportional to engine rpm.

Fudman, since it sort of failed in its winter sleep, you may want to try the bleed procedure. It may have had a bubble float up somewhere. Just turn the wheel lock to lock slowly 4-5 times. If you have an assistant, you can have them turn the wheel while you look in the reservoir with a flashlight and look for bubbles. They will look like soda bubbles coming up.

The good news is if you do end up swapping it out, its pretty easy. I think I got a pump on Amazon for a good price and its been working for years now. Some include a bracket and some dont. You can reuse the old one.
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  #10  
Old 03-31-2015, 03:06 AM
pudl pudl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
1. Has anyone ever felt a "heavy" steering wheel? If yes, what was the cause?
The steering suddenly went heavy while coming to a stop. Oh, and the engine was not running either. Car ran out of gas.
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  #11  
Old 03-31-2015, 04:40 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Thanx for the feedback everyone. It's probably been at least 3-4 years since I changed out the ATF, which could be the reason. I am hoping it is not a leaking rack as the DIY sounds like a PITA and it is much more $$. Could be the pump. We shall see... The next step is to inspect the underside for where the problem is. BB's link is a good start as Matwiz has some interesting diagnostic procedures to determine if it is the pump or the rack. Right now it is still too cold to get under the car (I still have 18" of snow on my lawn!). Looks like I am relegated to driving the Civic for awhile.

Thanx again for the help. I will follow-up with the final resolution.
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  #12  
Old 03-31-2015, 06:14 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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And to keep from confusing the masses, in Fudman's original post when he references ATF he really means power steering fluid. Just happens these beasts require ATF to be used as power steering fluid.

I'm nosy to hear what you end up doing. As I completed my cooling system overhaul a few weeks ago I noticed a power steering fluid leak from where the hose attaches to the pump. I tightened the clamp a little but I think I will need to either replace the high pressure hose or the pump at some point.
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  #13  
Old 03-31-2015, 06:32 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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I had the P/S pump fail on my 540i. The issues were that idle the steering was heavy. If I revved the engine steering would be normal. So try to rev the engine in neutral and see if the steering becomes lighter, if it does it's your P/S pump.
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  #14  
Old 03-31-2015, 07:44 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HTK12 View Post
I had the P/S pump fail on my 540i. The issues were that idle the steering was heavy. If I revved the engine steering would be normal. So try to rev the engine in neutral and see if the steering becomes lighter, if it does it's your P/S pump.
A good simple test. Thanx!
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  #15  
Old 03-31-2015, 08:01 AM
blacksquid blacksquid is offline
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I've just bought a 2000 540i and I've got the same symptoms. Indy shop quoted $1100 to replace the pump so I'll go the DIY route on this one.

GL!

John
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  #16  
Old 03-31-2015, 08:37 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacksquid View Post
I've just bought a 2000 540i and I've got the same symptoms. Indy shop quoted $1100 to replace the pump so I'll go the DIY route on this one.

GL!

John
What?! It's so easy to replace atleast on the 540i.. A shop should be able to do it in less than hour.. New LUK P/S pumps can be bought for around $300 online..
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  #17  
Old 03-31-2015, 08:46 AM
blacksquid blacksquid is offline
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Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the estimate myself. I've priced the PS pump at a little over $300 without trying very hard. One hour of rack time and labor at $125 puts the total at less than $500USD. Maybe I'll try to negotiate with them since I'd have to buy a decent floor jack and some jack stands.
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  #18  
Old 03-31-2015, 09:06 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacksquid View Post
Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the estimate myself. I've priced the PS pump at a little over $300 without trying very hard. One hour of rack time and labor at $125 puts the total at less than $500USD. Maybe I'll try to negotiate with them since I'd have to buy a decent floor jack and some jack stands.
Well you can do it with just ramps, so you don't need to invest too much. On the other hand if you decide to invest on a decent jack and jack stands you can use then for future DIY.
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  #19  
Old 03-31-2015, 09:08 AM
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JDeGraff89 JDeGraff89 is offline
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PS pump can all be done from above. ?? Wait ya'll 540i guys?
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R.I.P. Otto, 04/17/97 - 02/02/15 You'll be missed my drunken Bavarian friend.

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  #20  
Old 03-31-2015, 10:11 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
PS pump can all be done from above. ?? Wait ya'll 540i guys?
Yes were are talking about 540 P/S pump, which is impossible to do from the top.
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  #21  
Old 03-31-2015, 10:39 AM
Sroor9001 Sroor9001 is offline
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I don't know but for i6 it can be done removing bolt and hoses and fixing from down I mean installing the new pump
You can buy a second hand I've bought one from eBay and it's working fine since that day it's about 3 years if not more I think it failed but it's fine cause there was noise and it was my tensioner replaced and sound gone amazing
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  #22  
Old 03-31-2015, 11:03 AM
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computiNATEor computiNATEor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
1. Has anyone ever felt a "heavy" steering wheel? If yes, what was the cause?
I have noticed that the steering gets significantly lighter in my 530i as the fluid warms. Revving the engine does not change anything, implying that the pump is good. I've also changed out the ATF, and it made no difference, nor was it low.

That change in feel is most noticeable on tight, twisty roads like Glendora Mountain/Ridge, where I notice that the steering is significantly lighter at the end of the run than the beginning. I believe the heat builds up as a result of the significant under-hood heat these cars generate, even with perfect cooling systems.
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  #23  
Old 03-31-2015, 01:51 PM
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golferjohnm golferjohnm is offline
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when my PS pump failed, it took the whole serpentine belt with it and I had to run every stop sign and red light on the two mile trip to my Indy. My symptom was no assist to full assist sporadically occurring for a month or so before catastrophic failure
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  #24  
Old 03-31-2015, 02:17 PM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golferjohnm View Post
when my PS pump failed, it took the whole serpentine belt with it and I had to run every stop sign and red light on the two mile trip to my Indy. My symptom was no assist to full assist sporadically occurring for a month or so before catastrophic failure
You probably had the bracket fail on the P/S pump. This is quite common issue on 540i.
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  #25  
Old 03-31-2015, 02:26 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HTK12 View Post
You probably had the bracket fail on the P/S pump. This is quite common issue on 540i.
Typing /bracket f3 in the bestlinks nets this; but Fudman has the I6:
- Why are the BMW E39 V8 540i power steering pump brackets breaking and how to check for PS pump bracket cracks (1)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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