When many of the classic cars we enjoy were shipped from Chevrolet to the dealers, those modes of transportation were available with a Saginaw power steering. This hydraulically assisted steering in a classic car can be a great option to have — when it works. Sure, it might rob a few precious horsepower, but when you’re in a parking lot and need to easily turn your car, it’s nice to have that power assist. But like all good things, power steering can sometimes fail. When that happens, do you know how to diagnose the issue?
The other day, I was perusing the Borgeson Universal website and actually found a tutorial that I think you guys might be interested to know. If you are having an issue with the Saginaw power steering and having a hard time diagnosing an issue within the system, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, if the car is hard to steer in only one direction, it is probably the gearbox. If it is hard to steer in both directions, you can focus your diagnostics on the pump and/or lines.
One of the first things to check is the fluid. Not only will fluid level affect how the system works, but dirty fluid can be a real problem. If your fluid is black and dirty, you can surely expect to have issues. Do you ever change and flush the system? When you do change your fluid, make sure to thoroughly clean the pump reservoir’s interior before adding new fluid. Adding new fluid to a dirty reservoir is no bueno.
While reading the Borgeson tech tips, I also learned that while all power steering systems are self-bleeding, sometimes they do need a little assistance. If you believe you have air in the system, simply raise the front of the car so the tires are off the ground — do not start the car — and move the steering wheel from left to right. Doing this will help pull fluid from the reservoir into the gearbox. Once the fluid level drops, refill the reservoir and start the car. While the car is running, once again move the steering wheel left to right and see if the fluid level decreases. If so, add enough fluid to level off the reservoir. Once the fluid is again leveled off, you have successfully bled the system.
If you think your Saginaw steering box needs to be adjusted, you might be opening a can of worms. While adjusting the box does help eliminate some of the play found after many years of service, if not adjusted to be within spec, you could do more damage than good. If you are working with a new Borgeson/Saginaw power steering box, please do not make any adjustments. By doing so, you will throw the internal specs out of whack and even void the warranty. If you think the internal settings might not be as they should, please call Borgeson and let them know what’s going on.
If your power steering seems twitchy or over-assisted, you probably have an over-pressure issue. There are a couple of ways to adjust the pressure, and you can find all the information you need by reaching out to the folks at Borgeson. Whether you are looking for general information and technical help about steering systems or are ready to upgrade your car’s system, it might be time to take a look at the Borgeson website and get the parts you need to make your car steer like never before.
Finally, if you are trying to decide whether you can get away with rebuilding your old, worn-out box or whether you should replace it, here’s something you might want to read before you make that decision. As Jeff Grantmeyer of Borgeson once stated, “The problem with rebuilding a steering box from the ’60s and ’70s, is that when you’re done, you still have an old steering box.”