Power steering, standard equipment on virtually every vehicle today, was also a very popular option back in the day, produced by the millions. Those systems have an outstanding service life. Other stuff goes down—engines spin bearings, transmissions cook their clutches and bands, and sheetmetal gets tin worms—but even with an old dusty derelict Pontiac drug out of a barn, the power-steering system is probably still functional, even if leaky.
There comes a day when the worn-out steering box has dumped its last load-bearing bits, shaft shavings, and funky flakes into your delicate drops of Dexron. Even if the ancient pump is still pumping, if you're restoring a Poncho, the pump has to be part of the restoration, right? You're not going to reinstall the old chipped, grease-ball pump on your fresh engine, are you?
So then, whether your motivation is function or cosmetic or possibly both, when the need to rebuild hits, here's how it's done.
It's not terribly difficult, but there are a few steps that have to be done just right—like getting the pump vanes installed facing the right way, or your pump will not work right. One guy who knows how to do it right is Chip Woyner of Power Steering Services in Reeds Spring, Missouri. He's been rebuilding power-steering systems full time for almost 20 years, and that's long enough to him to know them like the back of his hand.
One thing that Chip stresses is to rebuild the whole system at one time—do the steering box and the power-steering pump together so that you don't contaminate one freshly rebuilt component with the dirty fluid from the other.
These are reservoir-type pumps, where the sheetmetal housing forms the reservoir for the fluid. Style details can vary, but the function is the same.
There are cheaper rebuilds available, but Chip's power-steering boxes are carefully and completely remanufactured (prices start at $169), and if you rebuild the pump and steering box together, you'll never have to worry about them again. "I guarantee that my pump will work with my gearboxes for life, and if you ever have a problem, I'll take care of it," Chip says.
You can't beat that, can you?