View Full Version : Why Am I Getting Play In My Steering?

Carl C
10-26-2011, 08:45 AM
The Zeiger steering had always been rock solid until a couple weeks ago when I did my pre-boating check and found about an inch of play in the steering. The rams would move in and out allowing the play. With some help I bled the system and found a little air but wasn't able to get it rock solid. I went boating anyway with 1/4 inch of play in steering. The drive seemed about the same after pulling from the water. Now, about a week later, I have a good full inch of play in the steering and the rams are moving in and out like there is air in it. The fluid never got low. Any ideas?:confused:

10-26-2011, 09:48 AM
That is really odd. I thought all of the steering systems out there are self bleeding anyway... at least Latham is.

a pinhole somewhere? any water in the fluid at all?

10-26-2011, 09:57 AM
I just did some searching and it looks like typical response is air coming from somewhere in the system. I thought the bleed procedure was different than it is too. Interesting stuff.

Carl C
10-26-2011, 10:04 AM
I don't think there is any water in there.

10-26-2011, 10:19 AM
Carl this may not be what is happening in your case but! When it starts getting colder I have noticed that many of the boats I serviced that had closed power steering systems developed play that went away come warm weather. Pressure tank non power assist systems do not seem to have the issue.

10-26-2011, 12:35 PM
This sure sounds like air is slowly entering your system.
Air will compress, unlike hydraulic steering fluid ; and give your steering system a sloppy feel with slack in the system.
Check you steering pump & it's pully/shaft seal first.
Then the pump's fluid RETURN lines & connections.
Air is most likely to enter in the fluid return lines & connections ; along with helm & pump shaft seals.~~~

The helm's shaft seal could also be at fault.

If it were a hydraulic system pressure side leak you would actually usually see a hydraulic fluid leak and not an air leak.

Air will not enter the pressure output side of the steering system~
Instead the prssurewill force the hydraulc steering fluidout ofa leak~~~NOT suck air in.

Air can only get sucked-in the RETURN suction side of this steering system.

This should give you a start on tracking down a steering system air leak.

10-26-2011, 02:43 PM
Think about this guys, you won't get air in a pressurized connection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
About the only place air can enter is too little fluid in the reservoir, or a loose suction/supply connection...and the likelyhood is first and second.

Carl C
10-26-2011, 05:32 PM
I will check all connections. I'm also going to back flush the p/s fluid cooler and the other coolers when I winterize since I did suck some sand up this year. I have a sea strainer but fine sand can get through so I plan to back flush each section of the raw water system. Could a plugged up cooler cause this? That's all I can think of. I was holding out for some late boating but might go ahead and winterize soon.

10-26-2011, 07:05 PM
Must be ethanol in the fuel...:wink: