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Power Steering Reservoir and Cooling Loop Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Power Steering Reservoir and Cooling Loop Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

13mm socket, diagonal pliers, hose crimp plier.

Applicable Models:

BMW Z3 (1996-02)

Parts Required:

Power steering fluid, power steering fluid reservoir, power steering hoses, hose clamps, power steering cooling loop

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine.

Performance Gain:

Quiet power steering pump.

Complementary Modification:

Power steering hoses

The steering system used in BMW Z3 is known as power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Rotating the steering wheel spins a small pinion gear, thus sliding a toothed rack left or right. The ends of the rack attach to tie-rods, which steer the front wheels. A hydraulic pump, powered by the engine accessory belt, forces steering fluid into hoses leading to pistons in the steering rack. A hydraulic valve in the steering rack varies the hydraulic fluid pressure in the two cylinders, dependent on how fast or forcefully the pinion gear is rotated. This multiplies the driver's force in steering the wheels.

When a power steering pump begins to fail, it will emit a groan when steering from side to side or you will notice increased steering effort. Of course the pump could leak also, but a noisy and weak pump is most common. Inside the power steering fluid reservoir there is a small filter that can become restricted. The filter is not serviceable separately; if you believe it to be a problem, replace the power steering fluid reservoir. I have seen noisy pumps remedied by replacing the power steering reservoir. If yours is groaning, try replacing the reservoir first. You can also use this article if you need to replace the hose clamps on the power steering reservoir hoses, as they have a tendency to leak over time.

In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the power steering reservoir, the power steering cooling loop and bleeding the power steering pump.

To avoid marring the paint and trim, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out body or interior items.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

The first step is to suction the fluid out of the reservoir. You can use a fluid pump or a turkey baster.  Once the reservoir is empty, use the steps below that apply to your model.

Models with 4-cylinder engine - Reservoir replacing
The power steering reservoir (green arrow) on 4-cylinder models is located on the front frame rail, below the air filter housing in front of the alternator.
Figure 1

The power steering reservoir (green arrow) on 4-cylinder models is located on the front frame rail, below the air filter housing in front of the alternator.

Using a flathead screwdriver, loosen the secondary air pump inlet hose clamp.
Figure 2

Using a flathead screwdriver, loosen the secondary air pump inlet hose clamp. (green arrow)

Then remove the secondary air inlet hose from the air filter housing by pulling it straight off.
Figure 3

Then remove the secondary air inlet hose from the air filter housing by pulling it straight off. (green arrow) Then pull it off the air pump and store in a safe place.

Next, you will unclip the three air filter housing retaining clips.
Figure 4

Next, you will unclip the three air filter housing retaining clips. (green arrows). One of the clips was hidden beneath the secondary air inlet hose. You will have to reach in behind air filter housing to access it.

Disconnect the intake air sensor electrical connector by pressing the wire release tab and pulling the connector straight off.
Figure 5

Disconnect the intake air sensor electrical connector by pressing the wire release tab and pulling the connector straight off.

Working at the air flow meter, twist electrical connector counterclockwise to disconnect.
Figure 6

Working at the air flow meter, twist electrical connector counterclockwise to disconnect. (green arrow). Then loosen the air flow meter hose clamp (yellow arrow). Once loose, remove the air filter housing from the engine compartment.

Then, loosen the secondary throttle body hose clamp at the rear air boot (green arrow).
Figure 7

Then, loosen the secondary throttle body hose clamp at the rear air boot (green arrow).

Once loose, pull the intermediate throttle out of the boot.
Figure 8

Once loose, pull the intermediate throttle out of the boot. You can leave the cables connected, just lay it aside.

Next, you have to disconnect the secondary air pipe from the pump.
Figure 9

Next, you have to disconnect the secondary air pipe from the pump. Squeeze the release tabs, then pull the pipe straight off the secondary air valve to remove.

Now, it is time to unbolt the secondary air pump.
Figure 10

Now, it is time to unbolt the secondary air pump. You will have to lift it up to disconnect the electrical at the bottom. Start by removing the two 13mm nuts (green arrows) that secure the pump to the support bracket.

Then working at the back side of the pump bracket, remove the wiring harness from the mounting clip.
Figure 11

Then working at the back side of the pump bracket, remove the wiring harness from the mounting clip. (green arrow)

Lift the pump up and off the bracket.
Figure 12

Lift the pump up and off the bracket. You will have to push the pump toward the firewall to clear the plastic clip on the rear of the bracket. Then, remove the purge valve from the pump by pulling it straight up and off the mounting bracket. (green arrow) The purge valve is housed in a rubber mount, if it is stuck, lubricate it with dish soap to help get it off.

Lift the secondary air pump off the mounting bracket and disconnect electrical connector by squeezing tabs and pulling it straight off.
Figure 13

Lift the secondary air pump off the mounting bracket and disconnect electrical connector by squeezing tabs and pulling it straight off.

Next, you have to loosen two 10mm nuts from the lower air filter housing (green arrows).
Figure 14

Next, you have to loosen two 10mm nuts from the lower air filter housing (green arrows). Loosen them about 10 turns. This will be enough to get it out. Note orientation of hoses for reinstallation.

With the lower air filter housing unbolted, lift it up, fastener side first, feeding the intake tube (green arrow) out of the shroud at radiator.
Figure 15

With the lower air filter housing unbolted, lift it up, fastener side first, feeding the intake tube (green arrow) out of the shroud at radiator. With the air pump and air filter housing removed, you now have access to the reservoir. Jack up the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. Place an oil drain pan under left side of engine.

Working at the bottom of the power steering reservoir, remove both hose clamps.
Figure 16

Working at the bottom of the power steering reservoir, remove both hose clamps. (green arrows) You can see my vehicle has had a crimp style clamp replaced with a regular hose clamp. Depending on what your vehicle has, you are either going to have to cut the clamps off with diagonal cutters or loosen them with a screwdriver. Once the hose clamps are loose, remove the hoses from the reservoir. If the hoses are original, they might be quite hard, if needed, cut them off the reservoir and replace with new.

Working at the power steering reservoir, loosen the 10mm clamping bolt (green arrow).
Figure 17

Working at the power steering reservoir, loosen the 10mm clamping bolt (green arrow). This will allow the reservoir to be removed from the bracket later.

Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the two 10mm fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 18

Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the two 10mm fasteners (green arrows). Be sure not to lose the washers when removing.

Next, remove the reservoir from the mounting bracket by sliding it up and out.
Figure 19

Next, remove the reservoir from the mounting bracket by sliding it up and out.

The filter in the reservoir is located at the bottom (green arrow).
Figure 20

The filter in the reservoir is located at the bottom (green arrow). It is a screen style filter and this is where the trouble happens. This filter becomes restricted, causing low fluid volume to the pump, resulting in a whine when steering. I have heard of people back-flushing the reservoir and cleaning it out. However, if I am removing it, I am replacing it.

Replace the hoses if needed.
Figure 21

Replace the hoses if needed. Then, place new clamps over the hoses and slide the hoses onto the new reservoir. Mount the reservoir in the bracket. Place reservoir in same position as it was before removing, tighten 10mm clamping bolt. Then crimp or tighten the power steering hose clamps. Crimp hose clamps using clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow). If you are using diagonal pliers to crimp hoses, be careful not to cut or damage clamp. I have an old pair that is worn down and will not cut any longer. Using worn pliers is a good way to avoid ruining the new clamp. Next install reservoir into bracket and tighten fasteners. Reassemble remaining items and bleed power steering system. See power steering bleeding below. 

Models with 6-cylinder engine - Reservoir replacing

Jack up the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle. Place an oil drain pan under left side of engine. Working at the power steering reservoir, loosen the 10mm clamping bolt. This will allow the reservoir to be removed from the bracket later.
Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the two 13mm fasteners (purple arrows).
Figure 22

Working at the power steering reservoir, remove the two 13mm fasteners (purple arrows). Be sure not to lose the washers when removing.

Next, remove the reservoir from the mounting bracket by sliding it up and out so you can access hoses at bottom.
Figure 23

Next, remove the reservoir from the mounting bracket by sliding it up and out so you can access hoses at bottom. (green arrows).

Remove hose clamps by cutting with diagonal pliers.
Figure 24

Remove hose clamps by cutting with diagonal pliers. Remove hoses from reservoir, then remove reservoir from vehicle. If the hoses are original, they might be quite hard, if needed, cut them off the reservoir and replace with new. Next remove the reservoir from the mounting bracket by sliding it up and out.

The filter in the reservoir is located at the bottom (green arrow).
Figure 25

The filter in the reservoir is located at the bottom (green arrow). It is a screen style filter and this is where the trouble happens. This filter becomes restricted, causing low fluid volume to the pump, resulting in a whine when steering. I have heard of people back-flushing the reservoir and cleaning it out. However, if I am removing it, I am replacing it. Replace the hoses if needed. Then place new clamps over the hoses and slide the hoses onto the new reservoir. Mount the reservoir in the bracket. Place reservoir in same position as it was before removing, tighten 10mm clamping bolt. Then crimp or tighten the power steering hose clamps. Crimp hose clamps using clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow). If you are using diagonal pliers to crimp hoses, be careful not to cut or damage clamp. I have an old pair that is worn down and will not cut any longer. Using worn pliers is a good way to avoid ruining the new clamp. Next install reservoir into bracket and tighten fasteners. Reassemble remaining items and bleed power steering system. See power steering bleeding below.

Crimp hose clamps using clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow).
Figure 26

Crimp hose clamps using clamp pliers (green arrow) or a pair of diagonal pliers (yellow arrow). If you are using diagonal pliers to crimp hoses, be careful not to cut or damage clamp. I have an old pair that is worn down and will not cut any longer. Using worn pliers is a good way to avoid ruining the new clamp. Install reservoir fasteners and tighten.

Bleeding power steering pump: All engines
Before starting engine, fill power steering reservoir with clean fluid to MAX level on dipstick.
Figure 27

Before starting engine, fill power steering reservoir with clean fluid to MAX level on dipstick. (green arrow) Start engine and turn steering wheel fully left and right 3 times. Turn engine off, check fluid level, add fluid until it reaches MAX on dipstick. When full, fluid should be clear and foam free. Foam or bubbles is a sign of air in the system.

 Power Steering Cooling Loop: All engines
The power steering cooling loop in mounted in front of the auxiliary cooling fan and radiator.
Figure 28

The power steering cooling loop in mounted in front of the auxiliary cooling fan and radiator. Depending on the age and climate where your vehicle resides, the cooler may begin to rust (green arrows). When this happens I suggest replacing the cooling loop as soon as possible. Eventually the loop will leak and possibly lose all the fluid while you are driving. Jack up the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle. Place an oil drain pan under left side of engine.

Start by removing the six 8mm fasteners for the lower radiator splash shield.
Figure 29

Start by removing the six 8mm fasteners for the lower radiator splash shield. (green arrows)

Then remove the splash shield by pulling it straight down and out of radiator support.
Figure 30

Then remove the splash shield by pulling it straight down and out of radiator support.

Remove hose clamps (green arrows) by cutting with diagonal pliers.
Figure 31

Remove hose clamps (green arrows) by cutting with diagonal pliers. Remove hoses from cooling loop. If the hoses are original, they might be quite hard, if needed, cut them off the reservoir and replace with new.

Remove the three 10mm cooling loop fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 32

Remove the three 10mm cooling loop fasteners (green arrows). I prefer to leave the rubber insulator attached to the body for top and right side fastener. The left side you cannot because it mounts behind the coolant reservoir.

When removing the lower left 10mm nut, it always seem to be stuck.
Figure 33

When removing the lower left 10mm nut, it always seem to be stuck. What I do is hold the cooling loop still with Vise Grips while loosening the nut.

Once all the nuts are removed, lift the cooling loop up and feed out of body.
Figure 34

Once all the nuts are removed, lift the cooling loop up and feed out of body. Be careful not to scratch or drip fluid your painted surfaces.

Inspect all three rubber insulators (green arrow), if they are worn or dry rotted, replace them.
Figure 35

Inspect all three rubber insulators (green arrow), if they are worn or dry rotted, replace them. Note: only one rubber insulator is shown.

Install cooling loop in reverse order of the removing steps.
Figure 36

Install cooling loop in reverse order of the removing steps. When installing new hoses, use crimp style clamps. If you are using diagonal pliers to crimp hoses, be careful not to cut or damage clamp. I have an old pair that is worn down and will not cut any longer. Using worn pliers is a good way to avoid ruining the new clamp. Once reinstalled, bleed cooling system.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Jim Comments: My power steering reservoir cap states ATF on it but my owners manual does not state the type of ATF to use. Can you tell me the correct ATF to use? My car is a 2001 BMW Z3 3.0i.
June 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use Dexron III - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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