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Fishstick

Power Steering Feels Weird

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Hi again,

My steering on my 310 doesn't feel right to me. It feels like sometimes it "sticks or hesitates" for a moment which causes me to over turn one way and then have to steer the other direction. It doesn't feel smooth to me, but I've only owned ski boats before, never something bigger.

The starboard power steering pump reservoir is low and the port is full. The other weird thing to me is that the starboard engine has two belts, I'm assuming one is for the power steering.

The port engine only has one belt installed, it seems like it is missing a second belt, but again, I'm not a mechanic.

I guess I would like to know, is there a specific type or brand of power steering fluid to use on the Mercruisers?

And then, should I have a second belt on the port engine?

I wasn't sure if adding fluid would help "smooth" the steering out or if I need another belt?

 

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14 hours ago, Fishstick said:

Hi again,

My steering on my 310 doesn't feel right to me. It feels like sometimes it "sticks or hesitates" for a moment which causes me to over turn one way and then have to steer the other direction. It doesn't feel smooth to me, but I've only owned ski boats before, never something bigger.

The starboard power steering pump reservoir is low and the port is full. The other weird thing to me is that the starboard engine has two belts, I'm assuming one is for the power steering.

The port engine only has one belt installed, it seems like it is missing a second belt, but again, I'm not a mechanic.

I guess I would like to know, is there a specific type or brand of power steering fluid to use on the Mercruisers?

And then, should I have a second belt on the port engine?

I wasn't sure if adding fluid would help "smooth" the steering out or if I need another belt?

It depends on how they set up your twin steering at the factory and/or if the previous owner changed it.  You should have 2 power steering pumps feeding the hydraulic steering ram that combines both outdrives but only one of the pumps is needed to operate the power steering and the priority valve is what automatically selects which pump off each engine will activate the power steering simply by which engine you start first.

In your case, either the factory just installed one power steering pump (starboard engine only) and eliminated the portside one (which is why you don't have a belt) or the previous owner disconnected the portside pump and belt which might be the reason there is low fluid in the reservoir.

You can try a couple of things just to check which system you have. 1) Follow the hydraulic lines from the reservoirs and see if both lead to their own power steering pumps.  That would probably indicate that you probably should have a belt on the portside engine and you have a priority valve and just have air in the system and need to bleed it and refill both reservoirs.  2) Start starboard engine only and turn the steering wheel and see if you have power steering (even if it's sluggish or whatever.)  Shut it off and start the portside engine only and see if you have power steering then let us know BUT, before you do that, do you have instructions from either the manual or whomever you bought the boat from that state you must start the engines in a specific order?  This is very important.  If so, don't attempt suggestion #2 or else it will probably ruin the priority valve if equipped.

Maybe someone else who knows more than I do can chime in to help you also. 

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Hi Hatem, thanks for all the detail and suggestions.

I do have two power steering pumps, I will follow the lines this coming weekend and see what I have.

RE: starting - the seller didn't mention that he would start would engine first. Not knowing this, I have previously started the port first...and then on other days, the starboard first. I did this because it seemed to me one engine would start faster than the other.

Anyway, I will check the rest of your suggestions out this weekend.

Thanks again!

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On 10/9/2018 at 8:51 PM, Fishstick said:

Hi Hatem, thanks for all the detail and suggestions.

I do have two power steering pumps, I will follow the lines this coming weekend and see what I have.

RE: starting - the seller didn't mention that he would start would engine first. Not knowing this, I have previously started the port first...and then on other days, the starboard first. I did this because it seemed to me one engine would start faster than the other.

Anyway, I will check the rest of your suggestions out this weekend.

Thanks again!

Ok, not to say that the above post is wrong. But..........

Remember that when these engines are built, they don't know what there going into. So most of theses engines are built the same with two pumps. 

On both Volvos and Mercs, at lest the ones I have owned. The starboard engine pump does all the work. The port one, just seats there as far as steering goes.  If its NOT one of those joy stick where the boat can go side ways. Meaning a normal twin engine, the two drives are locked together with an arm so that they both turn with each other.  One pump, one steering cable, both drives are tied with an arm. Two pump might work against each other at times, but I am not sure.

I don't think the factory or the last owner modified the pumps. Of coarse, check the levels and you don't bleed power steering pumps, lines or system. If you think about, is the power steering cap air tight, no. It can easily turn and come right off. I would check the belt tension and all the pulleys in case the belt is slipping and for leaks.

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15 hours ago, Iggy said:

On both Volvos and Mercs, at lest the ones I have owned. The starboard engine pump does all the work. The port one, just seats there as far as steering goes.  If its NOT one of those joy stick where the boat can go side ways. Meaning a normal twin engine, the two drives are locked together with an arm so that they both turn with each other.  One pump, one steering cable, both drives are tied with an arm. Two pump might work against each other at times, but I am not sure.

Yeah but don't forget the OP has a 1995 Sig 31 not a 2012 290 like yours.  I drove a friend's 2001 Sea Ray 310 Sundancer and he specifically told me to start the starboard engine first so that the control valve selects the starboard power steering pump.  He said if he started the portside engine first, the priority valve (same thing as the control valve) would select the portside power steering pump and that one was sluggish and he didn't like it.  There are other setups where only one pump is permanently set up to be the one working the power steering (which is not really a good thing because if you lose that engine, you lose power steering to get back on one engine that is very hard to turn).  So depending on which setup the OP has would be whether he has the priority valve to automatically select either power steering pump but from the sound of it, with a missing belt on the portside engine, he probably doesn't have it and I highly doubt it came with a missing belt and that most likely the previous owner took it off.

15 hours ago, Iggy said:

I don't think the factory or the last owner modified the pumps. Of coarse, check the levels and you don't bleed power steering pumps, lines or system. If you think about, is the power steering cap air tight, no. It can easily turn and come right off. I would check the belt tension and all the pulleys in case the belt is slipping and for leaks.

Air can develop and get stuck between the cylinder and the pump.  That's after the reservoir in a closed system and even with a pressure relief valve in the system, sometimes the air doesn't get out and you get slosshy and uneven steering.  Hydraulic systems with oil have to be bled especially before and after changing a part.  Usually you can turn the steering wheel -- with engines shut off -- from one side all the way to the other side a couple of times and that'll push any stuck air out the relief valve, not the reservoir cap.

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Were not talking about changing any parts. Yes. You turn the wheel left and right as you add oil on some setups. But that type is not a closed system either and not on our boats. Also, air will only get in if the oil is low. 

He is not saying he replaced any parts. So taking the cap of your pump with the engine running. Does your steering work? Mine does. 

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