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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As the colder period started, I noticed that after a cold start in the morning the steering feels "locked" to the center.

Not like it's just stiffer than usual, it feels like there is a piece of ice or dried mud that stops the wheels from turning and I have to really apply force to rotate the steering wheel, but after rotating it a couple of times for 45-90 degrees both ways, the problem either goes away or isn't as serious anymore. Even after driving for 30+ minutes there are moments where I certainly feel this "added resistance" to the steering wheel. It's annoying and has some very dangerous potential. Didn't notice anything similar during summer.

There's isn't much online about this problem (at least I couldn't find a solution to it), though there are some replies to posts where people seemed to have luck with Lucas Stop Leak, but my steering pump doesn't have any leaks so I'm a bit "afraid" to add it, because there was another bunch of replies that said Lucas has the potential of ruining your pump.

Volvo S40 2.4i, 2007 - Steering fluid changed in May 2019. Left front strut mount/bearing & tie rod ends changed a month ago. Rack & column don't squeak. Only the pump makes a slight buzzing noise when turning, but as I've seen here it seems normal.

Any ideas?
Thanks.

P.s: Oh also there are times when the steering feels lighter, other times when it feels stiffer (not nearly as stiff as in the cold mornings), but it's completely random and doesn't depend on the weather, moon phase or what I had for breakfast.
 

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Given how much amperage those power steering units use - do you think you could either have a relay going bad (causing your random stiffness) and iirc bad relays don't trigger CEL's, but do store codes?

I would have ventured a guess for a flush but you said you got one. Does the power steering unit have a relay?
 

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What fluid was used in that May change?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There are absolutely no codes and the steering unit doesn't seem to have a relay (not excluding I could be totally blind though).

The fluid was Febi 06161, because it was the only one that seemed to fit and we don't have any Pentosin over here (I'm from Europe).

If the powersteering uses a lot of power, could it be a bad alternator or old battery causing these issues ?
 

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Who changed the fluid? Wonder if they used the right stuff, since the problem came up AFTER that when the weather turned cool.
 

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The fluid was Febi 06161, because it was the only one that seemed to fit and we don't have any Pentosin over here (I'm from Europe).
The label shows "Ford M2C204A", which is the correct spec. So let's assume that's not it.

Yes, the PS can draw a lot of power, and if it's not available things will bog down. But generally that becomes immediately visible - or audible. The lights will dim, fuse will blow, pump will groan, that kind of thing.

There is no relay. It's an electronic control, and in fact it is speed-sensitive, the level of assist is variable.

Did you pull codes with VIDA, or a generic reader? If with VIDA, were there any active or pending codes anywhere in the vehicle? Any of them related to wheel sensors or power?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I changed the fluid, can't talk about high level of professionalism, but at least I didn't scam myself with some counterfeit fluid :) The bottle was purchased from a reputable and had the seals, etc.

Actually the headlights do dim a bit when turning the steering wheel and there is a slight buzzing noise from the steering pump (a bit harsher when keeping the steering wheel fully turned to left or right), but again I've read a lot of replies saying both of these are normal for our cars. And my alternator has a bad clutch pulley, which will be changed in a month or so, but that probably isn't related.

If it's speed-sensitive, is there any sensor that "senses" the speed that may have gone bad? Sometimes the steering feels much lighter driving 30-40 mph around the city rather than driving 5-8 mph around the block... but since it's my first car, I have no idea which one of the two is the correct "feel" and resistance of the steering wheel.

There are no codes at all, nothing related too steering was ever found since the 7 months of owning the car both with VIDA and a generic OBD2.
 

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How exactly did you change it? The fluid in the reservoir only, or did you flush the rack too?

Slight dimming of headlights at idle and car stationary is normal, due to the electrical load. Probably ok.

There are speed sensors at all four wheels. They are constantly read by the brake controller to compute vehicle speed. If the BCM is not throwing codes, they're fine.

I'm a bit stumped. Do you not have an experienced Volvo mechanic available?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Only the reservoir, sucked as much fluid as I could with a syringe and poured the same amount of new fluid (like 20 oz / 650 ml or a bit more). The fluid in reservoir didn't and doesn't smell any different than the new fluid I have in the bottle.
Yep I do have an Volvo mechanic, but he can't help a lot either in this situation, he told me the steering is stiffer on these cars than on others, but he obviously can't drive the car for a couple days constantly until the problem with different steering resistance occurs (because it's random).

Just as an thought, could there be some type of residue or dirt in the fluid that gathers overnight and causes the "lock" in the morning and then goes freely and casually "alters" the steering ?

Thanks for help :)
 

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Residue or grit would not cause this. The rack would fail completely if that were the case.
 

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Next thing I'd do is drop that fenderwell liner and disconnect the pump and see if it replicates your lack of power assisted steering conditions - if they feel the same then you know you have a bit of an issue there - if they feel nothing like it then you can guess it's not power related.

That being said if your alternator pulley is bad, I'd wait a month and see if that fixes it - belt slipping because of an old tensioner is also possible - and belt being bad is also possible - it's about eliminating problem areas at this point.

There's a good sticky on here to do a full flush on the rack if you are interested - it is relatively easy if you want peace of mind from the prior owner's fluids in there.

I just watched a rather interesting video too where the guy disconnected both steering rack arms from the knuckle and twisted the knuckle by hand to check for binding - then he turned the wheel and checked the rack for binding and found nothing either - he continued on and found that where the issue was was the ujoints in the connecting rod between the steering rack and the steering column (called intermediate steering shaft) - one of them was binding during a turn causing difficulty with the steering of the car - just a thought - and an interesting diagnosis method IMO. IIRC ours are a single telescoping shaft with 2 ujoints on either end that goes down to the penetration in the floor with the steering rack - but cold and random binding would explain itself with the ujoints in the system - a single bolt to disconnect it and then check for binding in it by manually rotating the joints, reconnect it and check for binding again.
 
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