Think you're immune from "General Motors Power Steering Syndrome" because you drive a Saab? Think again.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1979 Saab 900 with power steering that is hard to steer when it is first driven. After driving five to ten miles, it works normally. There is no fluid loss. I have taken it to two seperate shops. One says it's the power steering pump, the other one says it's the power steering rack. Both say the repair will cost between $400-500. Even though the car has over 90,000 miles on it, I don't mind spending money to fix it. Is there any way to tell which one of these components is really faulty other than driving it until it totally fails? Thanks.

TOM: Sure. You can test the pump by testing its pressure. You test it when the engine is cold, and then again when it's hot. If the pressure is the same, then you know the pump is fine.

RAY: And that's probably what you'll find. In fact, I'll bet my brother's salary this week that you've got a faulty power steering rack.

TOM: You may have read about "GMPSS" right here on this very page. That's "General Motors Power Steering Syndrome," a condition in which General Motors cars built after 1979 have difficulty steering for the first few minutes of driving. Once the car warms up, the steering is fine. Sound familiar?

RAY: Well, it should. But you say you don't have a GM car, right, Lee? Well, guess who has supplied all of the power steering racks for Saab since 1979? That's right; General Motors. And those racks are the cause of GMPSS.

TOM: You need to replace the rack, Lee. Take it to the guy who diagnosed it correctly. And $400-$500 is the right price.

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