Replaced a leaking power steering pump in my 99 Nissan Maxima about a month and a half ago. Bought the new pump from NAPA, used NAPA branded power steering fluid. My buddy and I switched out the pump, replaced all the fluid in the system, kept the car on jacks and moved the wheels from stop to stop for probably 10 minutes until all the air bubbles appeared to be purged from the system.

The pump works once there are some RPMs on the engine; even as low as 1000-1200. Sitting at idle, however, there is no power steering. Any common causes for this? The car is a manual, not sure that makes a difference.

I felt the belt deflection again this morning and it seems tight; no squealing from the engine or anything. Belt deflects between 1/4 to 1/2 inch per the Haynes manual.

Reservoir appears to be full; it's sitting right between cold min and cold max when the car is parked on the driveway, wheels straight. Same amount of fluid as was present after the pump was replaced.

Replacing the radiator tomorrow and I will try tightening the belt tensioner again, but I don't want to overdo things.

Would love to fix the issue without swapping out the pump because that repair was a bear. Suggestions appreciated!

Edit: Screenshots of the power steering pump used to replace the original (link to NAPA listing)

NAPA Power Steering Pump - Right Side Right Side

enter image description here Left Side

  • @MarkJohnson makes a great point. It sounds as though everything was done correctly ... at least I would have done about the same. Other question is, did you ensure all of the plugs were taken out of all the orifices? Are you sure it was the pump which was at fault in the first place? Could it be the rack/box which is bad? What was the original diagnosis? And last but not least, it could be you bought a bad rebuilt pump ... it does happen, even from NAPA. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 11:35
  • @Paulster2 Thanks for the thoughts! Original pump was leaking fluid. I am certain that all plugs were removed as the power steering does function, just not at idle. It is possible that the rack / box is bad though I would need to poke around with it and I am definitely still learning.
    – Shrout1
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 15:26

3 Answers 3


Strangely, after about 1500 miles the problem went away. I'm not sure why this is, though I was told by the individual that helped me with the replacement that new pumps sometimes require a "break in" period. I haven't heard that opinion echoed anywhere else, however it seems to have been the case for me... If it changes I will update! Thanks again for comments and answers.


Your power steering pump has a pressure release valve/device to release excessive pressure during the pumps operation. An incorrect setting would cause your symptoms. Other then a faulty pump the rest of the system needs to be checked. Steering rack defective; hoses fitted incorrectly; hoses kinked or damaged preventing fluid flow; suspension members seizing; power steering pressure switch malfunction - all need to be checked out.

  • So I won't lie, I'm a bit of a noob to all this. Here is the part that I ordered from NAPA and I'm not sure where or how I would adjust that valve. I am eager to learn how to do more and have had a fair amount of outside assistance. I'll post the image of the replacement pump above as well.
    – Shrout1
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 22:14

Several shared thoughts here. 1st, when deflection is referred to this is a measure of total movement and not just pressing down on the gap area and also this number varies depending on the length from pully to pully. I would suspect the issue here though is the pressure relief valve inside the rack and pinion may be bypassing more than expected in the neutral steer position, meaning that when the wheel is straight forward with no movement in either direction the pump is simply bypassed from the actual steering and only upon some turn motion should it push the fluid. If when pushed it mostly returns back you have no power steering.

  • Hey thank you! I ditched that car about 3 years ago but the power steering never gave me any more problems after about 1500 miles. Very odd! I replaced many, many other things in that car during its time in my care.
    – Shrout1
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 20:05

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