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Discussion Starter #1
Just went for a drive today and when taking corner very strange thing happened, for a moment the steering got extremely heavy, felt almost locked, fortunately it lasted only second or so before starting to work again (else I would probably not be writing this), I tried searching trough threads but could not find anything on this, all power steering problems usually end with fluid (mine is ok - reseivoir full of correct red stuff), hoses (the leaking part in mine replaced few months ago), pump (should be alright, except for this thing the steering is light without any suspicious noises), or aux belt (mine changed less then year ago). Another strange thing was that during the blip, engine oil pressure warning went on (want back off again when steering started working) similarly to when you stall the engine.

Does anybody have any idea what could the cause be? Given the way I usually drive this could lead to very dangerous situations...
Many thanks.
 

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Could be a number of things;
PAS fluid ok? When did you last change it?
That's not intended to be a cheap shot. Changing the fluid is not a service item but I do it every few years before the fluid turns grey or black.

Were you cornering hard? Hard cornering and worn front dampers/struts/shocks can cause steering issues.

Check how much spring is on the auxilliary belt tensioner. It sounds like it may be weak and have caused the belt to have stopped being driven. That would really cause a charge fault (alternator) but if not, check your engine oil level as it may be very low. If it is, pray your engine oil has an exceptionally high HTHS rating. If it doesn't and if you're quick enough, changing the big end bearings may avert the possible need for a new engine.

I know that sounds like scaremongering but it is possible. Obviously many factors influence the possibilities but keep a very close eye on things even if you think it is just a minor issue. Better safe than sorry.
 

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It does sound like the engine briefly stalled, or worse, locked. That would cause a brief loss of power steering, and if you have ever tried to turn one of those without the power steering you would know its virtually the same thing as locked....... I would start checking all electrical connections that could possibly cut out ignition. And your cam belt, might it have jumped a tooth ?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Could be a number of things;
PAS fluid ok? When did you last change it?
That's not intended to be a cheap shot. Changing the fluid is not a service item but I do it every few years before the fluid turns grey or black.

Were you cornering hard? Hard cornering and worn front dampers/struts/shocks can cause steering issues.

Check how much spring is on the auxilliary belt tensioner. It sounds like it may be weak and have caused the belt to have stopped being driven. That would really cause a charge fault (alternator) but if not, check your engine oil level as it may be very low. If it is, pray your engine oil has an exceptionally high HTHS rating. If it doesn't and if you're quick enough, changing the big end bearings may avert the possible need for a new engine.

I know that sounds like scaremongering but it is possible. Obviously many factors influence the possibilities but keep a very close eye on things even if you think it is just a minor issue. Better safe than sorry.
It does sound like the engine briefly stalled, or worse, locked. That would cause a brief loss of power steering, and if you have ever tried to turn one of those without the power steering you would know its virtually the same thing as locked....... I would start checking all electrical connections that could possibly cut out ignition. And your cam belt, might it have jumped a tooth ?
Many thanks for suggestions. Cambelt was changed about a year ago, engine out job (the garage was somehow not able to do it otherwise) and PAS fluid was flushed and changed along with it, it was still red and clear last time I checked. And oil service was done recently, only few weeks ago, so unless they screwed it, oil should be alright, but will check when I get a moment.

Also, full suspension overhaul at same time they were doing the oil so not likely.

How do you check the auxilliary belt tensioner please? I suppose I have to lift the car and take the engine tray off, or can it be done without it? One other thing I did not get to investigate yet is that I do occasionally get charging error beep, when revs quickly fall from high to idle (like abruptly stopping at red light), always only for a second or less, could it be related?
 

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It does sound like the engine briefly stalled, or worse, locked. That would cause a brief loss of power steering, and if you have ever tried to turn one of those without the power steering you would know its virtually the same thing as locked....... I would start checking all electrical connections that could possibly cut out ignition. And your cam belt, might it have jumped a tooth ?
If you are driving and the engine quits but you are still in gear, the engine would keep spinning in return it would keep spinning the power steering pump which would give pressure and enable you to normally operate your vehicle, correct? Therefore, you probably do not have a problem with your engine. What could be the culprit is the steering rack, pump, slipping belt, suspension etc.
 

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Many thanks for suggestions. Cambelt was changed about a year ago, engine out job (the garage was somehow not able to do it otherwise) and PAS fluid was flushed and changed along with it, it was still red and clear last time I checked. And oil service was done recently, only few weeks ago, so unless they screwed it, oil should be alright, but will check when I get a moment.

Also, full suspension overhaul at same time they were doing the oil so not likely.

How do you check the auxilliary belt tensioner please? I suppose I have to lift the car and take the engine tray off, or can it be done without it? One other thing I did not get to investigate yet is that I do occasionally get charging error beep, when revs quickly fall from high to idle (like abruptly stopping at red light), always only for a second or less, could it be related?
Another sign that you have an electrical issue that is causing the engine to momentarily stall. Get codes read from the ECU. Then check the tightness of that Aux belt.
 

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Another sign that you have an electrical issue that is causing the engine to momentarily stall. Get codes read from the ECU. Then check the tightness of that Aux belt.
Charging error could be the alternator clutch pulley but that should not have anything to do with power steering. As I said if the car stalls but still in gear it still spins the engine and thus power steering can not be affected. It could be affect if you stall the car while not moving naturallly. But in gear driving, no.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Charging error could be the alternator clutch pulley but that should not have anything to do with power steering. As I said if the car stalls but still in gear it still spins the engine and thus power steering can not be affected. It could be affect if you stall the car while not moving naturally. But in gear driving, no.
I do not know if the two are related, the power steering blip has happened only once and I really hope it was the last time, however the charging errors beeps every once in a while, I originally thought it was due to combination of sensitive alarm threshold and LPG conversion which lowered idle and I expect the "low peak" to which engine revs fall when engine braking/stopping/dipping the clutch is lower as well so perhaps slow enough for alternator voltage to fall under alarm value. If you know reference voltage it should give at idle I can measure mine so we can compare whether it is normal.

Anybody knows how do I tell the aux belt is tension-ed correctly?
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A seized alternator pulley can set up some wild variations in tension of the aux belt that set the tensioner flapping. I've seen this in action on a Golf I fixed. It's possible this could allow drive of the steering pump to momentarily slip. It was really obvious on the Golf that the belt was flapping about. It was not only visible, you could hear it. Replacing the alternator pulley was all that was needed.
 

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Anybody knows how do I tell the aux belt is tension-ed correctly?
It's self-adjusting, no manual adjustment possible - just a spring-loaded lever with an idler pulley. It will lash about if tension varies too much and too suddenly.

You do have symptoms that suggest aux belt tension varying wildly in use and slipping occasionally on the alternator and steering pump as a consequence. Take a look at it through the wheel arch with the car jacked and wheel removed. The belt should run smoothly even when the throttle is blipped. I bet it doesn't, and the culprit is very likely the one-way clutch in the alternator pulley.

If you take the belt off you can test this, by sticking a screwdriver through the ventilation slots to lock the armature, and rotating the pulley back and forth. The clutch should lock in one direction and freewheel in the other. If not, it needs changing, which can be done in situ with the right splined tool.
 

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...have had a similar, very frightening experience, with steering and braking system momentary failing, due to temporary engine stall. In my case this was due to a faulty fuel pump relay.
 
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