Troubleshooting Your Power Steering System
POWER STEERING SYSTEM OVERVIEW
KSE’s Power Steering Pumps and Tandem Pumps (PS+Fuel) have been proven to give excellent
power steering performance under racing conditions for various applications including sprint cars,
modifieds, and late models. KSE’s power steering pumps work well with stock power steering gears
(i.e. Saginaw), power rack & pinions, and various aftermarket units. All of KSE’s power steering pumps
are specially designed positive displacement gerotor-style pumps which can be characterized by their
high mechanical and volumetric efficiencies with smooth flow and low pulse ripple. It is important to
note that a positive displacement pump (vane, gerotor, gear, etc.) creates flow, not pressure – pressure
is only a signal of the resistance to flow!
When troubleshooting any power steering system, it is always important to remember that there are
many components and/or factors which can affect the performance of the system, including:
• Power Steering Gear / Rack & Pinion
• Power Steering Pump
• Power Steering Fluid & Reservoir
• Plumbing – Hoses & Fittings
• Steering Geometry & Tire Scrub
• Steering Ratio - Linkage & Steering Quickener
Notably, the two most commonly overlooked items in this list (which account for a large majority of all
power steering issues) are the power steering fluid reservoir and the power steering plumbing – namely
the pump suction line. A well designed power steering fluid reservoir should have these features:
• The tank must be vented (i.e. vented cap). A non-vented tank will cause pump seal failure.
• Should be tall in shape and hold a minimum of 16 oz. of fluid.
• Should have baffling to defuse fluid turbulence.
• Returning fluid should enter below fluid level.
• Should be made of aluminum or good heat conductive material.
• A filtered system will increase the life of all system components.
The suction line to the inlet of the pump should be a minimum #10 (3/4” ID) line. This hose must be
vacuum rated to 20 IN HG in order to minimize the potential for hose collapse. Proper care should be
taken to assure that the hose is not cut, rubbing, or pinched which could cause hose failure. The fittings
need to be inspected in order to verify that they are free of scratches, dents, or dings that could cause
air to be pulled into the system. If push-lock hose ends are used, hose clamps are highly
The pressure line from the pump to the steering gear should be a minimum #6 (3/8” ID) line. This hose
must have a minimum 2000 psi working pressure with a 6000 psi burst rating. The return line from the
steering gear to the reservoir should be a minimum #6 (3/8” ID) line. This hose should have a minimum
100 psi working pressure with a 300 psi burst rating.
The pump’s performance can be best determined by a flow-pressure test which requires specialized
equipment for assuring proper flow capabilities. KSE’s standard pump test specifications are as follows:
• Output Flow @ 3600 Pump RPM – 5 GPM (minimum at zero load)
• Output Pressure @ 1700 Pump RPM – 1100 psi (minimum relief setpoint)
WARNING: When testing the power steering section of a KSE Tandem Pump, clean oil or fuel must be pumped by the fuel section. Running a pump dry can result in severe pump damage.