March 18

2013 Dodge Charger, Power Steering



Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, master mechanic and owner of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 25 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver. And we're talking cars. How are you doing, Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim, some of us might be familiar with it. If we've seen the flashing red and blue lights behind us, a 2013 Dodge Charger, what was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle came to our shop, not owned by the police, by the way, but same kind of car, came to us with a power steering issue. Sometimes the steering would be stiff to turn in one direction, especially more noticeable at lower speeds.

Mark: So how do you go about testing what's going on with that? 

Bernie: We hook a scan tool up, look to see if there's any relevant stored trouble codes. You know, it's got electronics involved. It's actually an electric power steering system. So there's possible code information. And other than that, we look at the system pressures on the scan tool and just see what's, what's going on. And you know, check fluid level. 

So this is an interesting power steering system, it's electric power steering, but it's actually hydraulic. So instead of having an electric motor on the power steering rack, the power assist, it's not done by a pump on the engine, but it's actually an electric pump that runs separately. So there's lots of information from that we determined that the pump was weak and not putting out proper pressure. 

Mark: So what's the advantage of that? Just better mileage? 

Bernie: I think so. The other thing that's not good about electric power steering is if you have a car with start stop technology, which I don't believe this car has, if the engine isn't running, you still have power steering. 

In other words, if you have an engine driven power steering pump, it pretty well has to stay running. You don't want it to shut off because then you lose your power steering. So that's one advantage. But it still has the same complication of a hydraulic system with all the lines and you know, sort of pure electric driven rack is less complicated. 

Mark: So what's involved in replacing the electrohydraulic pump in this system? 

Bernie: Yeah. So the pump is located under the right fender well near the front bumper area. So removing the fender liner and the pump unbolts from there with electrical connectors. No belt to remove because it's not running off the engine. But there's electrical connectors and hoses that need to be attached and reattached and then mounting bracket and transferred over. And that's basically what's involved. So, it's a bit of work. 

Mark: So do you still have to flush the power steering system to do this? 

Bernie: Yeah, yeah, we do flush the power steering system. You never know, after time the fluid gets worn and whatever is left over. I mean, of course we're going to put new fluid in with the pump, but there's still old fluid in there. So we have a flushing procedure that we do to get rid of most of the old fluid and any guck that's still stuck in the system. 

Mark: Yeah, I guess we don't really consider that the hydraulic system is under a lot of pressure, so that generates a lot of heat and that can create all kinds of interesting chemical reactions in the fluid.

Bernie: Yeah, and it tends to wear out. Plus, of course, over time things are wearing like the pump impellers, the rack and pinion. Things are always wearing at small amounts, so those particles of wear are in the fluid. And so it's important to flush it out.

You know, over the years we've been flushing power steering fluid for years and years and years. And it used to be some rack and pinion systems, you'd get a lot of black in the fluid because of the types of seals that they used. And it would contaminate the fluid and cause all sorts of problems. 

Mark: Should we look at some pictures? 

Bernie: Yeah, so this is the new unit installed under the fender liners. It's kind of a little sneak peek view in under the fender liner. The fill cap is just to the left of that area. So you can access that from under the hood and check the fluid and fill it. 

2013 Dodge Charger, Power Steering

So this is the old unit on the left hand side where it has the Chrysler emblem and a big barcode. That's the actual motor. It's a pretty big unit, this thing. It's pretty heavy too. It's a large robust motor and the hydraulic pump assembly is in the center of that square piece and off to your right, you have the reservoir.

2013 Dodge Charger, Power Steering

A different view. You can see one of the hoses attachments on the right here. And the reservoir again on the left. So that's basically what we've got. 

2013 Dodge Charger, Power Steering

Mark: So this unit looks a little different. Is it just because it's new? 

Bernie: Yeah, it's new. This is remanufactured by the way. So it actually has a black reservoir as opposed to a clear one. That's probably the biggest difference. You know, it doesn't have all the old Chrysler sort of markings. Plus it's new. It's clean. The aluminum doesn't have corrosion on it. But yeah, probably the biggest difference is the reservoir colours. The reservoir is a different colour. So either that's the way they came or they put new ones on when they do the remanufacturing process. 

Mark: So does this require a special fluid?

Bernie: It does actually. There's a special fluid. And it's gotta be something that's not electrically conductive. You know, with hybrid transmissions as well, because there's electric motors inside, you have to be careful with the kind of fluids you put in. Now, I don't know if this motor is actually immersed in fluid or not. Some are, some aren't, but you have to have special fluid. So we use the right stuff. Otherwise, you can have problems. 

Mark: And how common are the failures of these kind of electrohydraulic pumps in general and then specifically to this kind of vehicle? 

Bernie: You know, we haven't done a lot of them in our shop yet and I'm sure we'll probably see lots more just based on the age of the vehicle, but it is a reasonably common failure item, that I know industry wide.

You know, other cars, I can't say for sure. I can't remember off the top of my head how many other vehicles have this, but this is used across the lineup of Chrysler's, Jeeps so on, which is smart. You know, you don't want to just put it in one model. It's good to share it around a lot of other models. It makes the price of each pump a lot less.

Mark: So how are these Dodge Chargers for reliability? The police use them. How are they? 

Bernie: Yeah, I think they're pretty good. I mean, it's a typical Chrysler of this vintage. The 3.6 litre engine, it's got all the usual issues that happen with those. Which you might see some references in other podcasts and different models. Generally not bad, but they probably have more things going wrong than they should. But that's why we're here. We're here to fix them and keep them in good shape.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them on their website, Or you can call and book your appointment at (604) 327-7112. They'll call you back, they'll get ready for your appointment. And they'll be giving you advice as to what you might be looking at, but they can't diagnose it over the phone. They have to see the vehicle. Do they have to take it apart and find out what's actually going on to fix it right, the first time. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thanks so much for watching and listening. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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