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2003 RL 245k mi. Turbulence in Power Steering reservoir?


2003 RL 245k mi. Turbulence in Power Steering reservoir?

Old 09-18-2018, 02:03 AM
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2003 RL 245k mi. Turbulence in Power Steering reservoir?

1st gen RL owners,

Does your Power Steering reservoir have as much flow and turbulence as mine, as shown in the video?

I have only been driving this car for the last 40k miles and I seem to remember always seeing this turbulence. However, we have two other cars, a Honda Odyssey and a Nissan pickup, and none of their PS reservoirs have this turbulence. The fluid is very quiet in these two other vehicles, but as you can see in my 03 RL there is a lot of flow/turbulence.

I also see a few bubbles coming up in the reservoir (see video), but that may be because I just changed the PS pump this weekend (see previous post). Just bubbles, no foam, there does not seem to be air entrainment in the PS fluid (I watched videos showing foam and air entrainment due to air leaks and those look different to me).

Of course, it seems like the PS design is a little different on the RL. Most other cars, including my Nissan and Odyssey, only have two oil hoses coming out of the PS reservoir. The RL has 3 hoses. The bottom hose goes to the PS pump intake, and Im not sure where the other two connect to, probably the steering rack and/or vehicle speed sensor. In any case one of these hoses could be coming from the pressure relief valve and that may explain why a stronger flow in the reservoir might actually be normal for the 1st gen RLs.

If you could observe your PS reservoir with the engine idling and post your observation Id appreciate it.

The power steering operation and feel are normal, and there are no noises.

PS. I just changed the power steering pump this weekend because it was noisy (see previous post), bad bearing or bad impeller noisy not air bubble noisy. I still see a few bubbles coming up in the reservoir (see video) and that may very well be air that is still working its way through the system from the PS pump change. However, bubbles combined with the reservoir oil flow/turbulence might also be indication of another problem.
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Old 09-18-2018, 12:23 PM
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My 2000 RL exhibits the same power steering "turbulence" as your video depicts. The reservoir is a plastic tub that clips into the mounting bracket with hoses attached running to the system pump. The pump is probably producing around 1000 psi so I'm "assuming" that a little turbulence would be normal. I have had my RL since 2007 and it has always vibrated to a certain extant when running which I believe to be normal operation. What may be different with the RL is that not many of the power steering reservoirs I have seen over the years have been clear with the fill makings on the outside of the reservoir vice a cap with a dipstick. They may all "vibrate" to a degree but you just don't see it.
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Old 09-19-2018, 01:48 AM
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Thanks 2000RL. Very useful to know that the oil in your RL's power steering reservoir has the same strong flow. Such a useful thing to be able to compare notes with other owners that have the same exact car.

So perhaps turbulence in the power steering oil reservoir is normal for the 1st generation RLs after all, even though all other car models I have seen have a very quiet power steering oil reservoir.

From what I've been reading, seems like all cars need to somehow release the extra pressure generated by the PS pump, especially at high RPMs. Perhaps the RL routes the pressure release oil back into the reservoir (hence three hoses attached to the reservoir) (?) while most other cars bypass their excess pump pressure lower down, so the bypass flow never makes it back up to the reservoir like it does in our RLs? I've never seen another car type with three hoses attached to the reservoir like on our RLs. All other cars seem to have just two oil hoses attached to the reservoir.
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