power steering pump and pulley - Maintenance and Repair Forum

Forum Post / Reply
You must log in before you can post or reply to messages.
power steering pump and pulley
Saturday, February 17, 2018 7:49 AM

So I started to leak power steering fluid last year from my 2001 Cavalier 2.2 (5-speed, manual, 227k) about 6 months ago. When the weather got cold it really started to get bad - so that I could no longer really keep up with adding bottle after bottle. So I just gradually learned to drive with no power steering and added a little fluid once every few days just to keep the pump lubricated. Well last week I was sick and missed a couple of days and coincidence or not - 4 days ago the pump started to make the dreaded chirping/squealing sound and when I went to add the fluid to quiet it down - all of it poured right out onto the ground as if I had just stood there and poured it straight from the bottle onto the ground. I have been driving for the last 3 days and the pump/pulley has literally been smoking and burning up and so I know my days are numbered. I've been trying to do as much research as I can in terms of what is involved in replacing the pump and getting the pulley off and I am dreading having to deal with all aspects of it - especially trying to the the belt off which is a total nightmare by myself. Not to mention having to try and find a parts place that can loan the pulley tool. Anyway, this morning, when I opened the hood to check the smoking, it was now obvious that the pulley has either become warped or bent so that I now fear the belt is going to slide off - heading into a Sunday - the worst day of the week for crap to happen and always the day of the week when I have had all my car breakdowns, of course.

Was wondering if anyone has gone down this road with these problems before and what the result was and how hard a job it is. I was shocked to see that a new pulley costs more than the pump does. I sure wish I could buy a new pump with the pulley already on there so I wouldn't have to deal with that aspect of it. Any way to lubricate or grease the situation to keep it from burning up so fast and/or buy myself some time?


Re: power steering pump and pulley
Monday, February 19, 2018 10:58 AM

OK. Now things have gotten a lot worse from my original posting above. I spent about 3 hours a day for the last 4 days doing all the research I could online about replacing the power steering pump on this car. Watched a bunch of videos, read a bunch of discussion threads, looked at a bunch of step-by-step instructions that were all supposedly for my exact year make and model so felt pretty comfortable - with the majority of all these making it sound like it was a 15-minute 5 bolts and you're done thing. No problem, right? So yesterday, after getting a couple more mind-bogglingly high repair cost estimates which I could not understand given how easy this was supposed to be - (between $500 and $600 just for the pump, and the total for the pump and the rack which I think is the source of the original leak - close to $1700 so totally out of the question) - I went to Advance Auto and got three loaner tools - the Serpentine Belt tool, and a tool to take off and put on the power steering pulley for the pump, once it is out of the car. I want to take one more really close look under there at the pump, pulley and everything before I start - so I park and pop the hood - and can now see that the pulley is *barely* hanging onto just what must be the very last tip or millimeter of the pump shaft - so that you can see most of the clean silver shaft on the inside of the pulley and it is way out slanted and angled from where it is supposed to be (flush with the side of the pump and even with the other belt components). I then get out the S-belt tool and I thought that the small attatchment that goes on at an angle was going to allow me to use it to turn the tensioner - because I already knew that on my model - there is absolutely NO WAY to use a belt removal tool by itself. Why? Because the square 3/8 hole in the tensioner that has to turn clockwise cannot be reached from any of the 4 directions - most importantly, the top - because the motor mount prevents it. So you can imagine how unhappy I was when I found out that that small 10" or so long metal attachment rod didn't have another 3/8" thing on the end, but instead was an adapter that had a much larger one that does not fit in the tensioner. So I am right back to square one with how to get the belt off (using my right arm so I can use my left hand to take the belt off the pump) I found out from the alternator that this is totally impossible by myself and had to grab some guy to help me and even then it was practically impossible because of how the tire iron that I had to push down on kept slipping off the metal side of the tensioner - there has GOT to be a better way - but how? I then tried to use that tire iron to force the pulley back into its normal position which I was able to do, but the moment the car starts, it pops right back out to it's extremely frightening and risky edge of the shaft. So here I am unable to afford the catastrophic and shockingly expensive costs of the repairs - which would only get me back to where I was 5 days ago when I had a pump-killing leak anyway - or being stuck not able to figure out how you are supposed to get the pump out. But I've saved the best bit for last - and I sure am hoping someone on here knows what I am talking about from experience and has a solution. After I realized that the pullley was going to keep popping out to the point where it and the belt were going to break off and fall off in the middle of driving around - I also noticed that there is a giant painted black piece of steel that appears to be part of the engine - as in lifting and lowering it into the car - that would completely prevent the pump and pulley from ever being lifted out the top anyway. And there is no room in any other direction to take them out if they are attached. And taking the pulley off and putting it on while in the car is absolutely impossible without breaking both. So I am left afraid to drive my car, and stuck not knowing what to even try. I am hoping someone on here can help. Because I am out of things online that address any of this crap. They all make it sound like none of these obstacles exist.
Again: 2001 Cavalier 2.2 engine 5-speed manual 227K
Re: power steering pump and pulley
Monday, February 19, 2018 3:38 PM

Lots of good videos on YouTube for this. The one with the Sunfire doing this job is pretty good. Make sure the engine is the ln2 engine like yours and not the 2.4. To keep costs down, I would just pull a pump from your local boneyard. Just get a good look to see that it is dry and not all leaky like yours. Pulling it there will give you the good practice and first hand hands on experience you need for when you go to swap it into your car. Also, you will get the pulley and you won't have to swap it over and you can keep the old one handy as a spare. You can probably bag an entire rack for pretty cheap while you are at it.

Some junkyards like lkqpickyourpart.com (they are all over the us) have inventory pics online of what is in the yard. You can search to see if a Cav like yours is there before driving the miles and spending the cover charge to go in. Maybe there is one near you. You can check at their site.

Good luck. You seem very tenacious and not one to give up so I think that you will get this.

Re: power steering pump and pulley
Friday, February 23, 2018 9:03 AM

I just want to say that I have never been more disgusted or upset about any car-related situation - ever. Pump at parts store: $30, loaner tools in the trunk. No way to get belt off even with the tool in my hand. Result - spending the night outside repair shop because I was afraid of getting stranded when the pulley flew off the broken pump shaft. Paid them $500, waited 2 hours, got my car back covered with marks and scratches and chipped paint and gouges in the driver's door.

Best part. The leak is still there. The old reservoir cap doesn't fit right on the new reservoir (they don't come with the new pump or new reservoir and cost $16). Every time I stop and look under the car I am staring at the same damn puddle directly below the new pump as was directly under the old pump - with drops of fresh clean fluid from every low-point near the passenger front wheel. All this for something I don't even care about having - power steering. I was just fine without it for months. Isn't there some way to get a shorter belt and just eliminate that pulley totally so I don't have to keep dealing with this BS? The shop said to come back when more repairs are in my budget. Nice.

And this isn't a result of lack of time and research on my part. WEEKS of internet searches and forum searches. Nothing that was any help. I guess not enough people have this model anymore. It sucks. Now since the pump and reservoir are new and I still have the same leak as always - and it is just a matter of time before it kills this new pump just like it killed the old pump - there are only 3 things it can be, right? The rack, the return hose or the pressure line. I know for sure I can't do the rack myself nor can I afford to have it replaced. But what about the lines? All I can find are nightmare stories about how impossible it is to (A) find where a leak like mine is coming from and (B) to get the lines free and re-attached to the rack even if you can figure out that is what is needed.

Should I just blow my head off now or should I try robbing a bank for the money? Cause I don't know what else to do at this point.
Re: power steering pump and pulley
Friday, February 23, 2018 4:25 PM
The fits for replacement parts can be dodgy for sure which is why I recommend the boneyard where you can see exactly what you are getting.

I noted from your profile that you are in the Raleigh NC area. There is an lkqpickyourpart right there and there is a red 2001 currently there in the yard. (I wen to that website and checked)


Type "cavalier" in the search box and it will come up. There is also a 2002 Sunfire that could work for,you there too.

The price for the used PS pump there is $21.14 with a $4.50"core - all you have to do is pull it if it looks good.

I don't understand your issue with the belt tensioner. I always just use my elcheapo harbor freight breaker bar that the square drive insert fits right into the tensioner.

You seem to be having the worst luck ever. I am headed to my local likqpickyourpart tomorrow morning to hopefully snag the elusive Z24 wiring harness for my 98 "Cavalier RS Sedan" project car. It will be either $14 or $25 depending on if they consider a medium or a large harness.

Hang in there...

Re: power steering pump and pulley
Saturday, February 24, 2018 8:36 AM

Well any time I take the car anywhere to have any component driven by the belt replaced (except the alternator, which is when I learned my lesson with the belt tensioner and the slipping-off of the tire-iron when pushing it down) - they have to remove the whole motor mount - which is what they obviously did this time - to get the belt off.

The Serpentine Belt tools that I have bought (and returned) and rented as loaner tools do not work at all on my model. The one I got this last time has an attachment that is a second steel bar that snaps into the 3/8" end connection. *IF* that smaller, shorter steel extension was also a 3/8" then it would have worked GREAT. Problem is - it is a 1/2" and too big to fit in the tensioner. All of my regular socket/ratchet are too deep to fit in between the body of the car and the tensioner. I haven't found any tool anywhere at the auto parts stores that would work.

What would work is a much shorter very shallow/low-profile version of the serpentine belt tool. I will have to go measure just how short it would have to be to get around in one of the 4 directions is could fit on the square 3/8" hole in the tensioner, but the regular tool is WAY too long and sticks right through the motor mount and therefore can only move back and forth about 2 inches which doesn't even begin to move that tensioner. So I would love to see how someone does it on my model. It is so frustrating because you can tell from those 2 inches of movement that it works like a hot knife though butter - tantalizingly close but yet worthless and forcing a very expensive trip to the repair shop where they only get more damage, things broken and ripped-off.
Re: power steering pump and pulley
Saturday, February 24, 2018 6:20 PM
My engine is the same as yours. The 2200 ohv ln2. Get yourself the longest 3/8" breaker bar you can from harbor freight. Mine was like $8 with a coupon. Mine will fit in the tight gap to the belt tensioner insert with a little bit of nudging. You are right though that it is much easier to loosen then motor mount bolts and slightly lift the engine to get more space. I do this and then use a jack with a board scrap on top to avoid damaging anything. It is very easy. You CAN do this. I wonder if your local repair guys are sabotaging you or in the least giving you bad advice and talking you down.

Get yourself the HF bar and go hit up your local lkq and grab yourself that PS pump if it looks good and dry and free of leaks. You can do it. I just had a good day myself and finally got that 98-99 Z24 headlight harness I had been waiting for to come up.

Good luck. Hang in there. Your J-body is worth it.

Forum Post / Reply
You must log in before you can post or reply to messages.


Start New Topic Advanced Search