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Discussion Starter #1
Evening Folks:

My 3.8L T&C has gone over 250,000 so now seems to be a good time to do some long deferred preventive maintenance. IE, new power steering and water pump, plus a new (rebuilt alternator).

Given the difficulty to reach the power steering pumps bolts; I was wondering if I might have any extra access to the power steering bolts if I remove the water pump first?

Has anyone removed the cowl to do a power steering pump replacement; and, if so, did it make the job any easier?

Any time estimates to complete any or all of the replacements?


All suggestions Welcome!

Poor Paul
 

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If you're NOT having problems with the PS Pump and Alternator, are you sure you want to replace them? And if you do purely as a preventative measure, are you going to get high quality new items and not the least expensive rebuilds?

I went through a rebuilt alternator every 2 years on my '95 Cherokee, I'm sure because I got inexpensive rebuilds to replace them. It was the bearing that wore out.

Water Pump I could see, they wear out often, so sooner than later isn't a big deal.

On my '02 Grand Caravan w/ 3.3L, I noticed with age, the belt wore faster, and many squeaking issue happen to be a worn belt that needed replaced sooner than you'd expect.

The alternator has a decoupling pulley that lets the alternator spin faster than the pulley, i.e. the accessory drive belt doesn't have to slow down the alternator when the engine slows down, which takes a ton of stress off the belt. These decoupling pulleys often wear out or fail, it would be worth replacing it. I suspect my belts might last longer if I replace mine. I don't have a reference new decoupling pulley to compare it against, it passes the test in the service manual, but I've had the same with viscous clutches on fans, and a new clutch was definitely a huge improvement, since despite passing the recommended test it was still woefully short of like new performance.

There is also a tensioning arm and pulley, and an idler pulley, that wear out often, those should be replaced before a still good performing alternators and PS Pumps. The tensioner and pulleys make squeaks more often than the PS pump.

NAPA sells a drive kit for your Mini-Van that has a new improved Tensioner, belt, idler pulley and decoupling pulley for the alternator. I'm sure it costs less than a new alternator and PS Pump, and will likely produce a quieter and smoother engine.

The decoupling pulley on the alternator, I "think" its pressed on, so it might be rather difficult to remove and replace.
 

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I usually go by the old saying, " If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Though I can see the argument to replace the water pump and alternator.

The seals on the pump eventually go and the brushes in the alternator wear out over time. There is the convenience factor as well. If you wait until the parts fail, then you're in crisis mode and if you don't have an alternate vehicle to use, there is the time pressure to get it repaired as soon as possible. If you can plan for the down time (preventive maintenance) then it's not so bad.

What you might consider doing is purchasing the parts in advance and at least have them available in the event the pump and alternator fail. But then you're tying up money you could use elsewhere.

I've yet to have a PS pump fail. If anything, I've had the belt wear out or a hi pressure hose fail, but not the pump. The last alternator I had to replace was in a '86 LeBaron GTS. I've had several vehicles since then with many of them going over 200,000 miles and none needed the alternator replaced. The last water pump that I replaced was on a '93 Aerostar (3.0L V6) - failed twice within a year - the first replacement failed catatrosphically.

I was in Advance Auto purchasing new O2 sensor for my Ram (getting an intermittent CEL light and the code is indicating a O2 sensor is failing) and noticed a sign for sale:

"Dad's Garage. If I can't fix it, it ain't broke." LOL!
 

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I never heard anyone replace all that as PM. unless there's a failure. Exception being a water pump, only if you have to disassemble that area like for a timing belt. If you do all that as you mentioned, I will call you "Poorer" Paul.
 

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KOG
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Water pump on that model is a PITA which you don't want to have replace on the road. Earlier 3.3/3.8 is easy, later ones after they moved the pump to the rear of the engine are trouble. Replacing alternator brushes at 100K is often a good idea. PS pumps often run forever.
 

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I agree with the rest of the posters, I'll only restate, the alternator decoupling pulley should be replaced, they do wear out before the alternator.

So, I'd get:
NAPA Accessory Drive Kit (or Improved that comes with the new type of tensioner) for you engine (Belt, Tensioner, Idler Pulley, Alternator Decoupling Pulley).
New Brushes for the Alternator
New Quality Water Pump

New PS Pump is likely a waste of money, and your tensioner/idler would fail before it would.
Alternator, with the exception brushes and decoupling pulley, could outlast most of the things on the vehicle.

Decoupling pulley likely preserves the life of the belt and tensioner and makes the engine smoother and no squeaks. I'm convinced my '02 Vans consumption of belts cause they start squeaking in short order is because of bad decoupling pulley on the alternator.
 

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One good preventive thing would be an oilchange in the ps system.
- i usually do that by sucking out the ps reservoir and filling it, run a few minutes, doing a couple of turns in each directions and the do it again, and again. I have the Engine shut of while emptying and filling so i dont get air in there.
It Amazing how much debris its in there.
- Use the correct oil....
 

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One good preventive thing would be an oilchange in the ps system.
- i usually do that by sucking out the ps reservoir and filling it, run a few minutes, doing a couple of turns in each directions and the do it again, and again. I have the Engine shut of while emptying and filling so i dont get air in there.
It Amazing how much debris its in there.
- Use the correct oil....
I put the front end up on jackstands, so the front wheels hang free and have no resistance to turning. Engine off the entire time. Disconnect the return line at the reserviour and run it to a bucket. Turn the steering wheel lock to lock quickly, the PS unit's hydraulics will pump the fluid out of the system, drawing it from the supply side. Add a few ounces to flush the old fluid, repeat the turns lock to lock (keep in mind the disconnected return line that fluid will leak out of). Reconnect the return line, fill, turn lock to lock to work the air out of the system. Start the engine, turn lock to lock and top off.

Not that your method is wrong, mine just gets all the fluid at once. Your method is much simpler and faster, and if you're using the correct PS fluid, replacing half to 3/4 of it will make a huge difference in keep the PS running well and longer.

Most O.M.'s state the PS fluid and Brake fluid will last the life of the vehicle. BUT, the manufacturer considers the life of the vehicle to be 100k miles, at least mostly trouble free. I believe and have seen benefits from changing PS fluid and brake fluid, at least every couple of years, it does degrade. I have brakes on 250k+ mile vehicles that never have needed a hydraulic repair, I have purchased used vehicles that had wheel cylinders leaking cause of the gum that formed on the cylinder and caused the sealing cups to leak.

IMO, if you're only going to keep the vehicle for a 100k miles or a little more and pay shops/dealerships to do all the service, changing PS and Brake Fluid isn't economically viable. It just cost too much to pay for the service, for little benefit that you'll likely never realize (likely the logic behind O.M. recommendations). Now if you do it yourself, there would be significant savings, and past 100k miles, you would realize the benefits with less repair costs than the service costs to do it yourself.
 

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The P/S cooler in the front cross-member should be the lowest point of the system. Disconnecting here will let gravity drain the system. Leave the cap off of the reservoir to act as a vent.
With the cooler hose still disconnected, moving the steering wheel from lock-to-lock should purge the old fluid out of the steering gear.
 

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I change brake fluid with every pad change. And do a partial change annually by suctioning the master cylinder and refilling it with fresh fluid. Takes very little time, cost almost nothing and the wheel cylinders will outlast the vehicle in most cases. That's particularly labor saving on the 3/4t and 1T trucks which require pulling the axles and hubs to get to the rear brakes.
 
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My reasons for just using a suction device is simple..
- if it doesent leak, i dont whant to start one...
- its simple, clean and Quick so it gets done...
But yes, draining the system would do a better job but its also the part of dont fix what aint broken.
 
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I have found the "Speed Bleeders" a.k.a. "One Man Brake Bleeders" make bleeding the brakes much quicker and easier. These are replacement bleeder screws for the calipers and wheel cylinders, they have a one way check valve inside them, and sealant on the threads. Just connect a clear tube (get from the Hardware store) to the nipple of the speed bleeder screw run it to a jug, crack the speed bleeder screw open a 1/4 turn, pump the brake pedal. After a half dozen to a dozen pumps, check the tube and reservoir, for bubbles and clearer fluid and make sure you didn't run the reservoir dry. Refill the reservoir if necessary and move on to the next brake slave cylinder.

Oh, if you do run the reservoir dry, and suck air into the master cylinder, the one way valve in the speed bleeder acts like a bench bleeder as well, so you'll get the air out of the Master Cylinder. Of course if you do run the reservoir dry and suck air into the Master Cylinder, you're starting over with the bleeding cause now you have to pump all that air out of the master cylinder and through the lines and slave cylinder.

There is also gravity bleeding and vacuum pumps, some find them easier to use than the speed bleeders.

Again, some prefer to suck the fluid out of the reservoir and replace it, to freshen up the fluid with new fluid being mixed in. It does work, especially if you do it more often, after all the manufacturer recommends that is the only way to change the transmission fluid properly. And I have to admit, even with speed bleeders and I replace Brake and PS fluid only every couple years simply because its a burdensome enough of a job, so those sucking out and refilling reservoirs every year are probably getting the same benefit as I am.

Just remember, never get any petroleum (oil) into the brake fluid, it will contaminant the fluid and cause the seals to swell and could make a huge mess of the brake system. If you're using a turkey baster to suck out brake fluid, make sure to clean it thoroughly, like with brake fluid, before sticking it into the brake reservoir.

And there is a difference in brake fluids, sure all brake fluids might be synthetic, but just like oil, the base stock has to have their properties modified with additives and there is more than one additive to do the same job. Good brake fluids will use the more expensive higher quality additives vs cheaper fluids that use the cheaper lower quality additives. The better additives are less harsh and the brake systems and seals, they absorb moisture slower and last longer, less likely to form gum and deposits, etc.... Castrol GT-LMA advertised that it absorbs moisture slower than any other brake fluid (LMA=Low Moisture Absorption), likely because of it using better additives. The 60's British sports cars, that use seals in their brakes that are not compatible with conventional brake fluid, have been using Castrol GT-LMA cause they have found its the only brake fluid being sold that doesn't damage the seals in their brake systems like all the other fluids. And Castrol GT-LMA advertising much higher wet-dry boiling temps than other fluids as well. But Castrol GT-LMA is hard to find, Valvoline SynPower Brake Fluid advertises a lot of the numbers that Castrol GT-LMA advertised, (has the same advertising concept of it being a DOT3 and DOT4 fluid, better than DOT4 max temps and less than DOT3 moisture absorption). I've been using the Valvoline SynPower of late, but the only evidence its as good as Castrol GT-LMA is the length of time the fluid in the reservoir darkens. i.e. better fluids seem to darken in color and become opaque much slower than cheaper fluids.

Oh, DOT3 vs DOT4, DOT3 has lower wet/dry boiling temps but also absorbs moisture much slower, DOT4 has higher wet/dry boiling temps but absorbs moisture much faster. DOT3 is thought to last longer and be less harsh on the brake system parts. So if your vehicle recommends DOT3, you should use DOT3 brake fluid, buying DOT4 is not an upgrade, you don't need the higher boiling temps and are just putting in fluid that won't last as long and be harsher on the system. Of course some of the higher quality fluids will advertise they are the best of both fluids, the temps of DOT4 but the moisture absorption of DOT3, that is what I've been using.
 

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I Always do a suck it out and refill brakefluid change every time i change brakepads, pushing the pistons in make most of the fluid to return to reservoir.
Suck i empty and refill...not a perfect way but it does keep the fluid looking good.
- its Another of these easy ways of getting it done without so much hassle..a broken bleeder or air in the abs module is much harder to fix and easily accomplished when changing brake fluid.
 

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I've seen recommendations to open a bleeder screw as you force the piston back in, thus not back flowing the old brake fluid through the system. And would flow more new fluid into the circuit after the suck and refill.

I've done this with the speed bleeders, which of course the speed bleeders prevent any air from getting into the brakes. With regular bleed screws, I think there would be a pretty good chance you could get air into the brakes and might need to bleed the brakes afterwards.

But, even with your method, fluid does flow in and back from the circuit as you use the brakes and intermixes the old with new, it will just a few days longer than if you force all the fluid out of the bleed screw while pushing the piston back in.
 

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hello poor Paul,
if you're not having trouble with any of those items i wouldn't change them. Have you had the van the full 250000 miles? if not do you know the history? I would be very surprised if the water pump wasn't replaced at least once already. I put 4 or 5 on our 2003 3.3 T&C. didn't seem to matter what brand or quality i got they failed. the napa pump failed by the pulley breaking. all others started to leak. last one was a Bosch before the van was t-boned and totalled and it was ok. I did replace the alt decoupler pulley as others mentioned. not too hard. used a gates off amazoon and bought a Lisle tool to do the job. that really quieted things down on the engine. I also "refreshed" the PS fluid on occasion. as I thought it was making noise but in reality it was probably the alt pulley and bad water pump making the noises.

if you live up north (salt belt) i would make sure the heater line and the main water pipe (from pump housing up to the lower rad hose) are good and solid and not rusted thru like mine were. That would be good preventative maint to do. The main water pipe is a bugger to press back in.(picked the van up)

I understand the concerns especially if you're driving very far and hauling family but as others have mentioned, HOWEVER, poor aftermarket stuff is more likely to fail. daughter's oddyysy had a nappa alternator fail after about 8000 miles and 10 months of service. $25 used OEM factory unit would have been better.

good luck.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
Well I took everyone's advice....and got 7 more years of service. The water pump has been dumping water...so that tells me the pump seal is shot and the power steering pump took a dump yesterday. Looks like I will putting new ones in tomorrow.
 

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Alternator bushes - 1995 Spirit Bosch alt.
Brushes were so short at 95,000 miles the braided copper leads stuck through. So, I would be cautious about single reports.
 

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On my 92 Plymouth Grand Voyager with the 3.3 I have gone through 4 water pumps at 331,000 miles. I have had the alternator and starter both rebuilt when they quit working. And now I need to replace the power steering pump because it is leaking out the front seal and making a mess out of the front of the engine.
 
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