So I finally got around to removing my power steering pump last weekend, basically modifying the power steering rack to a breather system. Yes I know that there are many Civic drivers out there that believe it is impossible to drive such a “heavy” car without power steering. I beg to differ. I have driven around for the past 6 months with the power steering belt off and even my wife can drive the car. If you feel that driving a Civic without power steering is something you are unable to do, or if your Grandma drives your car on the weekends, please hit the BACK button above now.
Installing the breather allows for fluid to remain in the rack to lubricate the internal seals while reducing the pressure in the rack to allow for easier turning without the minor parasitic losses for the power steering pump. There are several threads on HondaTech that discuss this modification, with this one
being very informative.
This is the procedure that I used to remove the power steering pump, reservoir, and lines and to replace them with a breather system. I am not recommending that you remove your power steering, but I am informing you how I removed mine. I assume no liability if you decide to do this, if you get power steering fluid on your paint, etc.
First off, I purchased Aeroquip fittings and hose for the assembly. Yes this is overkill since there will never be enough pressure in the rack or fittings to need the Aeroquip fittings, but that’s what was used on the HondaTech thread and the fittings were easy to find. For the breather I used a Honda clutch fluid reservoir. A full parts list will follow at the end for those interested.
To begin, I put the front of the car on jack stands and drained the power steering system. This is done by removing the return line from the reservoir and inserting it into a container. Turn on the car and turn the wheel from lock to lock until no more fluid comes out. Turn off the car. Dispose of the power steering fluid responsibly.
Now the pump supply line can be removed from the pump. I removed the wing nut and two bolts that hold the pump to the bracket and removed the pump and belt. I plugged the nipple with paper towel to avoid getting any fluid on my paint.
Follow the supply line from the pump to the rack. This is where most of the action is. The supply (black) line and return (greenish) line are circled in yellow. There is an inline sensor (circled in red), I unplugged it and moved the plug out of the way. As per HondaTech, this will be a useless sensor now so it can be removed (sensor increases/decreases pressure based on vehicle speed, or something like that).
To the front of the rack there is a bracket that holds the black supply line to the rack. I removed the screw circled in yellow. There is a bracket just under the previous bracket that holds the return line to the underside of the rack. I removed the screw circled in red (hidden under the throttle cable).
I squirted the supply and return lines at the rack with WD-40, I don’t think it helped any because they were pretty easy to remove. Now to remove the supply line from the rack, I used a 14mm wrench. There is just enough room to rotate the screw enough to flip the wrench and rotate, then flip, then flip...
I then removed the return line from the rack. The service Manual states this is a 16mm flare nut, but my 17mm wrench fit on it perfectly.
Follow the return line and there are two brackets on the driver’s side strut tower that hold the return line. I removed both brackets. (I also took this opportunity to move my clutch fluid reservoir down to the top bracket location since I will be installing a front upper strut bar this week).
Now the two lines are free and can be removed. The return line is annoying due to the shape and that it goes behind and under the rack. It took a little time and finagling.
I then installed the assembly for a test fit and to measure the small hose length.
I measured close to 2 1/4". So then I assembled the assembly (except for the two bottom pieces) with the T section at a slight angle.
The two bottom fittings were screwed into the rack holes using an 18mm wrench, back one first. Installing the assembly is a pain! Due to the front vertical portion of the assembly and the firewall, it is impossible to get a full turn on the wrench on the rear vertical screw. I hand tightened the front and rear as much as possible. The 18mm wrench can get on the rear portion for a partial turn, then I used the needle nosed pliers to turn it enough to get the wrench back on it for the final tightening. I’m probably going to go buy a cheap 18mm wrench, cut it down to 2 inches, and try to tighten it a bit more, if even possible. The front portion is easy to tighten. Then I installed the hose on the remaining barb piece and attached it to the assembly.
To hold the breather (clutch fluid reservoir) I decided to use the original power steering reservoir bracket. The problem is that it is backwards (breather would be on driver’s side instead of facing toward passenger side). So I got my trusty hammer and flattened two tabs and reinstalled it the way I needed it, with the wedge facing the passenger side.
Now the nipple from the reservoir is pointing straight at the alternator, so I got my trusty channel locks and bent it so the nipple lines up with the incoming hose. In order for the breather to breathe, I removed the black plastic baffle but kept the white piece in the reservoir. I cut the hose to length and clamped it to the breather nipple. Originally, I laid the hose across the motor mount bolts but the vibrations are starting to tear into the hose. I’m going to install a zip tie around the hose to the plastic wiring harness (not the wires) circled in the picture to clear all bolts.
As per HondaTech, the less fluid in the rack, the easier it is to turn. So I filled the breather to the max line and blew it into the rack. I did this twice. I might add more fluid, I’m not sure.
So the review everyone is waiting for: After driving for a week, it is easier to steer than with the belt off. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being with power steering and 1 being without the belt, I give it about a 4.3. It’s not quite twice as easy or half as difficult but it is easier. I also have gotten used to driving with the belt off and parked in a parking space between two cars the other day one handed while talking on the cell phone. It is easier to steer, but it is not amazingly easier. But it is a step better than having power steering!
There are two remaining brackets from the power steering that I guess I am stuck with for now. The bracket that once held the pump has a small bracket that holds and A/C line, as well as the bracket that held the supply line. The bracket that held the supply line will get cut off when I get a chance, but the pump bracket looks a bit more involved. I’ll try to fashion some piece to hold the A/C support one of these days.
Another pile of stock crap taking up space in the garage
Aeroquip fittings (find local distributor
- click Aeroquip and insert postal code)
FCM2240 14mm supply line fitting
FCM2241 16mm return line fitting
(2) FCM1512 barb pieces
FCM1562 180 with barb
FCM2062 T fitting
FCM2915 swivel coupling
FBV0600 hose (3'-0" was plenty)
Clutch fluid reservoir from Majestic (#33)
#4 hose clamp
Bottle of Power Steering fluid
Total cost $80 (not including tax or Majestic’s handling fee and shipping since I got a bunch of other stuff too)
Total time - about 3 hours start to finish including taking pictures and about three interruptions from the wife complaining about something.