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More problem with the old Buick

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sigh...

I just poured a lot of money on overdue maintenance and some repair work into my Land Barge aka Mom's old Buick Park Ave.

I had front suspension work done.. and about a week later, terrible squeaking started coming from what sounded like the front end. With the holidays and other stuff, I wasn't able to get back to Firestone until today. They inspected the car and told me the noise is coming from the steering column.

It is particularly bad when I cut the wheel hard counterclockwise (left turn) but I hear the noise plenty other times. It sounds like squeaking rubber on rubber or rubber on metal. Ever walk on a hard vinyl floor with wet sneakers... squeak-a, squeak-a errrrerrrrerrrrerrr. A belt maybe? I don't know what comprises the steering mechanism aside from the linkage in the front end.

So, my question is to any gearheads here as to what this infernal noise may be... They want to do a "diagnostic" on it... another 50 bucks at a minimum ... to try to figure it out.

Did I say before that I hate this car????!!!!! Not just that it has cost me a fortune since it became mine, but that I don't like driving it or design of it, etc.
post #2 of 13
Sounds like something in the power steering - either the pump, the pulley, or the belt. Any GM car I've ever had that's made a squeal when turning the steering wheel, it's been the power steering. If something was amiss in the steering linkage or the column itself, you'd be feeling clunking, etc. through the steering wheel. Just my 2 cents.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyLoneWolf View Post
Sounds like something in the power steering - either the pump, the pulley, or the belt. Any GM car I've ever had that's made a squeal when turning the steering wheel, it's been the power steering. If something was amiss in the steering linkage or the column itself, you'd be feeling clunking, etc. through the steering wheel. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks, LLW. I don't feel clunking or vibrating in the steering wheel. So I would guess, yes, its the PS. Sigh. Would I be better off going to the dealership (certainly not cost-wise) than an independent? I guess I am looking for another two cents worth.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyLoneWolf View Post
Sounds like something in the power steering - either the pump, the pulley, or the belt. Any GM car I've ever had that's made a squeal when turning the steering wheel, it's been the power steering. If something was amiss in the steering linkage or the column itself, you'd be feeling clunking, etc. through the steering wheel. Just my 2 cents.
Funny - that's what I was just thinking. When the death van pulled a similar sound on me it was because I was low on power steer fluid and later because there was a crack in the power steering line.

I've recently had a better experience with dealerships over independents, but it was for an older non-domestic car so they were quicker with the diagnostic and had all the parts in stock wherease I always had to wait longer for independents to get the parts in.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Freya View Post
Funny - that's what I was just thinking. When the death van pulled a similar sound on me it was because I was low on power steer fluid and later because there was a crack in the power steering line.
I've recently had a better experience with dealerships over independents, but it was for an older non-domestic car so they were quicker with the diagnostic and had all the parts in stock wherease I always had to wait longer for independents to get the parts in.
That I could live with - not a big fix, I don't think.
post #6 of 13
I wil ask Dh when he gets home. He is a licensed mechanic.
post #7 of 13
First of all, does it have enough power steering fluid? Check it, and if it's OK, move on to the next step.

Does it do it when the car is sitting still, but the engine running? If you suddenly accelerate the engine, does it do it then? Those might be a sign of a loose belt.

Next, with the engine running, turn the steering all the way to the left and hold it. Does it make the sound continuously? Turn the steering wheel rapidly all the way to the right. Does it move smoothly through the whole travel? Does it make the squealing a lot when your moving the steering wheel fast, or does it do it a lot when you reach the end of the travel? Again, these are signs of a loose belt.

I don't know if that car has a serpentine belt, but if it does, and it's more than a couple of years old, you need to replace it. They get hard and more prone to squeal.

It could be the power steering pump, but the test above will give you more of an idea.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
First of all, does it have enough power steering fluid? Check it, and if it's OK, move on to the next step.

Does it do it when the car is sitting still, but the engine running? If you suddenly accelerate the engine, does it do it then? Those might be a sign of a loose belt.

Next, with the engine running, turn the steering all the way to the left and hold it. Does it make the sound continuously? Turn the steering wheel rapidly all the way to the right. Does it move smoothly through the whole travel? Does it make the squealing a lot when your moving the steering wheel fast, or does it do it a lot when you reach the end of the travel? Again, these are signs of a loose belt.

I don't know if that car has a serpentine belt, but if it does, and it's more than a couple of years old, you need to replace it. They get hard and more prone to squeal.

It could be the power steering pump, but the test above will give you more of an idea.
Very cool. I will do that. PS fluid shouldn't be a problem. BUT -- I had them inspect the car last month... shouldn't they have checked ALL of the fuild systems? Or perhaps if it is a leak that it is recent. Should I check the floor of the garage? What does PS fluid look like? Dark right now so I can't really tell... but will check in the a.m.
post #9 of 13
im a mechanic, and i specialise in classic/old stuff, but sadly i havnt ever heard of the car you have!

anyway does it squeak as you are turning the wheel left (continuously) or is it like a squeak at certain degrees as you turn the wheel, if that makes sense?

what i mean is there are nylon bushes/bearings on the steering column, and if they are worn they can creek/squeak, or as the others have said it could be the pump on the PS if it squeaks continuously as you turn, although it shoud do it on both left and right turns.

they PS belt can make a right noise if not adjusted right, this will be easy to check with an assistant, if one of you turns the wheel while the other looks under the hood (see how i used your american term there!) you will tell if the squeal is the belt or not.

sorry i cant be of more help, if i was there im sure i could nail the problem for you!
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jezmondo69 View Post
im a mechanic, and i specialise in classic/old stuff, but sadly i havnt ever heard of the car you have!

anyway does it squeak as you are turning the wheel left (continuously) or is it like a squeak at certain degrees as you turn the wheel, if that makes sense?

what i mean is there are nylon bushes/bearings on the steering column, and if they are worn they can creek/squeak, or as the others have said it could be the pump on the PS if it squeaks continuously as you turn, although it shoud do it on both left and right turns.

they PS belt can make a right noise if not adjusted right, this will be easy to check with an assistant, if one of you turns the wheel while the other looks under the hood (see how i used your american term there!) you will tell if the squeal is the belt or not.

sorry i cant be of more help, if i was there im sure i could nail the problem for you!
Thanks for the diagnostic tip, Jez. My boyfriend and I will pop open the bonnet (notice I used the British term here ) and do that testing. The noise seems more intermittent, depending on how far I have turned the wheel... sometimes it squeaks, sometimes it does not.... seems more on left turns than right... but does both... and sometimes I even hear it when we go over a bump.. but that is not the primary source of the noise. Wish I could afford to fly you here to test the car! haha! Michigan in January is not that pleasant, though!

I don't think GM sells the Buick Park Avenue there. Too freakin' big for the European market. It is a land barge. It is a truly full sized four door sedan. If you google 2001 Buick Park Avenue you can probably get dimensions. The funny thing is, this was Mom's car and she is a tiny little thing about four foot nine these days... and you could barely see her above the dash when she was driving. Or she was driving with her tiptoes!
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by AddieBee View Post
Or perhaps if it is a leak that it is recent. Should I check the floor of the garage? What does PS fluid look like? Dark right now so I can't really tell... but will check in the a.m.
Power steering fluid is usually reddish-pink or a light gold color. If you have a leak, you'll be able to see it on the floor. If it's a consistant enough leak, you'll actualy be able to see trails of drips it in your driveway (this is how we found our leak on a gravel driveway).

Good luck and I hope it's nothing serious.

Also, I just noticed that you're in Michigan so, (and forgive me if this sounds like a stupid suggestion) have you checked for ice build-up between the wheels and the mud guards? Ice and hard-frozen slush squeek something fierce...not that I freaked out about it once thinking it was my brakes or anything.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Freya View Post
Power steering fluid is usually reddish-pink or a light gold color. If you have a leak, you'll be able to see it on the floor. If it's a consistant enough leak, you'll actualy be able to see trails of drips it in your driveway (this is how we found our leak on a gravel driveway).

Good luck and I hope it's nothing serious.

Also, I just noticed that you're in Michigan so, (and forgive me if this sounds like a stupid suggestion) have you checked for ice build-up between the wheels and the mud guards? Ice and hard-frozen slush squeek something fierce...not that I freaked out about it once thinking it was my brakes or anything.
It hasn't been that snowy-slushy here of late and got warm enough for everything to melt. What I did SEEM to notice is that the squeaking is worse when it's really cold out (below freezing) than when it's above. But it doesn't go away completely.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
We checked over the weekend. I didn't see any sign of PS fluid on the garage floor. I found the cap to the inlet, but it is halfway down in the engine comparment, mashed against the inner wall... I can't reach it and I didn't want my BF to try in case he wasn't able to get it back into place.

We tried Mike's suggestions about turning the wheel while in park with engine running... the "squuueeeee" happens in both directions - sometimes immediately into the first revolution of the wheel and sometimes almost into the second.... it is more pronounced and frequent cutting the wheel to the left, but it does happen in both directions. And the intensity and frequency of it varies... no rhyme or reason.... I didn't know what I was looking at but he could hear the noise from the engine compartment (hood was up). And it translates through the steering column into the passenger compartment.

The noise really sounds like a wet rubber-soled shoe on a vinyl floor if you were to rub your toe back and forth.

I don't feel like I'm fighting with the wheel at all - I have had "power assisted" rack and pinion steering ... and you have to really work to get the wheel going in things like parallel parking. That's not the case here.

But it doesn't seem to travel back as well as it should - don't know if that's a linkage or front end issue. Had a FE Align last month.

Thanks for all your advice, guys!
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