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Old 01-09-2010, 08:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Power Steering Problem - whining noise

I have a 2002 Audi A4, 3.0 quattro and recently with the change in weather getting colder and colder, my steering wheel became somewhat "frozen". It's hard to move my steering wheel and every time I do so, there's this loud whining noise. I checked the power steering fluid level and it was low, so I bought the Pentosin 11S and topped it off. Initially the problem was somewhat solved (less resistance when turning the wheel) but after a few days the problem came back with the noise.

I noticed that after driving the car for a while and letting the engine warm up more, the whining noise became less severe and the resistance when turning the steering wheel also became less although there's still a little whining noise. Anyone know what the problem may be?
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The cold weather can bring any weaknesses in the condition of your Audi power-steering system to the forefront; this is especially true for the 3.0L vehicles. The power-steering noise is usually described as a "groaning" sound. There's a progression of potential problems that need to be addressed, beginning with a healthy power-steering system that's just a bit low on power-steering fluid, ending with a leaky power-steering rack with failing seals and/or an abused/failing power-steering pump). Be aware that the Audi dealerships often take the stance that you must blindly replace the power-steering rack and the associated power-steering pump. Diagnosis of the underlying causes is key to determining where to begin.

If your power-steering system is fundamental healthy (no leaks or failed components), the issue is often just a case of slightly insufficient power-steering fluid, allowing air to be sucked into and circulated within the power-steering system, producing the "groaning" noise. For many of us, the information in the following link can quickly resolve the "groaning" problem (<$20 for materials):

DIY: B6 A4 3.0 - Power Steering Noise Fix - Audizine Forums

The next step in working to resolve a power-steering "groan" is to flush and replace the power-steering fluid. The Audi power-steering system is very specifically tailored to use ONLY Audi-spec mineral-based synthetic power-steering fluid (the "green stuff" as it's referred to in the vernacular). Running any non-approved power-steering fluid (or any sort of mix of power-steering fluids) can result in the rapid decline and failure of the Audi power-steering system. The Pentosin CHF 11S is readily available from a number of forum sponsors (you can also find it at most NAPA auto-parts stores --- it's used as hydraulic fluid by a number high-end industrial equipment manufacturers). Cost is <$50 in materials, labor costs will vary.

If a flush-and-replace of the power-steering fluid doesn't quiet things down, the usual next step is to replace the power-steering pump. This service step assumes that there are no obvious leaks from any portion of the power-steering system and no on-going loss of power-steering fluid. Again, the dealership service-writers will try to convince you that you must replace the power-steering pump and steering rack as a monolithic unit (their usual rationale for this approach is that either portion of the power-steering system will "contaminate" the other). The power-steering noise that was plaguing my wife's 2002 A4 3.0L Quattro (~100K-miles on the odometer) was eliminated at this step --- no subsequent "contamination/cooties" between the power-steering pump and the rack has prompted any steering system failure. Cost is ~$330 in parts, labor costs will vary.

The final step in eliminating any power-steering system noises is to replace the power-steering rack. Cost is ~$700 for the rack, labor costs will vary.
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