Our cars are notorious for burning up power steering pumps, if you road race the car. A small radiator added to cool the power steering fluid is adequate to resolve this problem. In this case, I'm using a 24" Perma-Cool #PRM-1003 transmission cooler, from Summit. I originally used the 17" long cooler, and then replaced it with the 24" cooler to hold more fluid. Either fits nicely right behind the air dam, but you could find any other convenient location. Since radiators come in lots of sizes, you can probably find one which will fit the location you've picked out. Clearly if you had the radiator right in the wind, you'd get better cooling, but I think it will be fine where I put it, and certainly out of the way. didn't want to block any air from getting to the engine's radiator.


Installation

This is an easy install. Mark and drill holes to mount the radiator. I put a blob of silicone into any holes I drill into the body, hopefully to stop any rust from appearing. Mount the radiator to the car.

You want to hook the radiator into the return line that connects from the power steering back to the reservoir. Follow the smaller of the two lines out of the bottom of the reservoir, and you'll see that it connects to a hard line you can see in the picture at the left (I've already cut the rubber line). So you'll re-route this line into the cooler, and route a new line from the cooler back to this hard line.

Cut the hose as I have in the picture at the left, and have an oil pan handy to catch the oil as it runs out. Re-route the loose hose in a good path to connect to the new radiator. I was able to reach the radiator with this hose, but depending on where you installed the radiator, you may need to get a new one.

 

 

Route the new line that came with the radiator, such that it connects the other outlet on the radiator to the original hard line where you removed the stock hose. You'll need to use a dremel to remove the stock connector to the hard line first. Cut the hose to the right length, and make sure it doesn't rub against any pulleys or belts - you might want to use a couple zip-ties to make sure it stays in place.

 

Before you wrap up with the hoses, you probably should use the opportunity to flush all the old fluid out, so you can replace with nice new stuff. Connect all the hoses other than the return line from the cooler to the reservoir, with the provided hose clamps, and tighten them down. Take the return line, and plug it (I used a convenient bolt threaded in), and attach a length of spare hose to the open outlet of the cooler. Run this hose into a drain pan (the old oil will come out fairly quickly, so make sure it's stable).

You'll want at least two quarts, probably three, of a good synthetic power steering fluid, or many automatic transmission fluids will do as well, do flush and re-fill the system.

You need a friend now. You want your friend to start the engine, which will start pumping the fluid out into your drain pan, while you slowly pour new oil into the reservoir. Let about a quart of oil run through the whole system (you'll waste this quart), and then shut the car off. Don't let the reservoir (and pump) run dry, shut the car off while there's still oil in it. Then hook the return line back up to the cooler.

Re-fill the power steering reservoir with oil, but only to the "low" point on the indicator (just the tip should be wet). Let it sit for a couple minutes, and refill to the same level stays level. Start the engine for a couple seconds, and check and refill if necessary. The reason you're leaving it low is that at the road course, the oil will splash up and leak out of the top of the reservoir if you fill it up. You know have more fluid in the overall system, so it's no problem to leave it a bit low. Check your hose connections for leaks. Then, raise the front tires off the ground, start the engine, and turn the wheel left and right, almost lock to lock, a couple times while holding the engine at 1500rpm. Check and refill if necessary. You should be good to go, but check the level again after driving the car.

At the recommendations of some friends, I decided to cut openings in the radiator scoop, to allow air directly at this new cooler. I don't think this will cause any trouble with the engine overheating, but I'll certainly mention it if I do...


Conclusions

This is a cheap and easy install, definitely easier than replacing the pump if it goes out. If you do any road course events at all, I definitely recommend you install a cooler.

Copyright 1997-2004 David Mills, no part of this site (http://www.go-fast.org/) may be reproduced without permission of the author. The author makes no claims or guarantees as to the quality of the information on this site. I'm an enthusiast just like you, and while everything here is correct as I know it, I'm not responsible if your car breaks.