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Steering issue with resolution


New member
East Tennessee
I have a 2003 Signature Town Car that I purchased with 55,000 mile on it about two years ago and now has 116,000 miles. Issue arose this past Friday morning whereby suddenly the steering was very stiff with hard spots. Turning right was easier (although still stiff) than left. No noise from power steering pump, belt good with good tensioner, fluid level correct and no leaks. I have changed out the power steering fluid two times (suck out reservoir, fill, start car, run, repeat 6 times) with Mercon fluid. I had driven the car on a 6 hour interstate voyage through heavy driving rain throughout about 5.5 hours of the trip. Car had no issues with steering, steering was the same as always. Next morning was cold (32 degrees) but not anything that the car hasn't seen before but was dry.

Concerned about this new issue, I started looking around, searching this forum, YouTube and the internet about these symptoms. Most leaned toward the rack and pinion being the culprit second to a power steering pump, pressure sensor or the speed sensor. There were no ODB codes and speedometer (digital & analog gauges) worked as did the cruise control, so I felt like the speed sensor was not the issue. The more that I researched, the more I found about stiff steering with hard spots landed on the rack & pinion. Although I did find two videos that pointed to the steering shaft. The videos weren't very well presented and seemed pretty simpleton. These videos recommended spraying WD-40 onto the U-joints on the shaft under the hood. So, thinking that it was going to be the rack & pinion (expensive) I thought, what would it hurt. So I sprayed WD-40 on all the U-joints under the hood then turned the wheel to both sides. Suddenly, the steering was much better, almost like it was before. I purchased some PB Blaster penetrate with lithium grease PENETRATING LITHIUM GREASE – Blastercorp and shot them with this. GUESS WHAT, fully fixed, steering back to normal, lock to lock, return to center. The exposed metal joints apparently got soaked in the rain drive, then flash rusted causing some binding issues. Power steering components were fine, it was the actual linkage to the rack & pinion. Simple cheap fix.

So, with these cars, I am beginning to believe that the reason they are so reliable is that they are pretty simple with tried and proven designs/parts. Also, I believe that I am going to begin diagnosis and repairs with the most simple from now on. I had resigned myself to a $500 or so rack replacement with the "you ought too's" replacing tie rods, pump, lines and possibly ball joints while I was in there. Will also add this one to my maintenance list of things to keep an eye on.