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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
intermittant issue where the steering wheel will "slip" a tiny bit while turning. usually tight until a momentary slip, about a half inch of wheel turn without the wheels turning, and then it grabs and continues to turn. Not all the time, but noticable when it does. Could it be a loose steering rack mount, or loose steering column uv joint? Maybe stripped spline teeth at either the bottom or top of the steering column? Failing power steering pump or air in the lines? fluid is topped up and has never run dry, no signs of leaking fluid.

after mechanic inspection, recommended to replace inner and outer tie rods, and lower ball joints, all of which were loose... now have been replaced, and issue remains, if not more noticable now since the rest of the steering linkages are tight. Wheels have no play in them side to side or up and down when jacked into the air anymore. lower control arm bushings were also completely separated, so they have also been replaced.

1998 vw beetle 2.0
 

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Define "slip"; do you mean, at some point while you are turning... it is hard to turn, the steering action stutters, or binds? Or literally; the steering wheel moves and doesn't turn? Many times; when a rack fails, you get uneven pressure and the turning action is inconsistent with binding and a lack of smooth performance through the whole turning radius. Sounds like it could be a pressure issue. It would be nice to inspect it on a rack; then turn the steering wheel when running and then when turned off, that way you can look for play or hydraulic issues. If you just paid the mechanic that did all this work; why not take it back and tell them to diagnose the problem, or were they unable to fix the problem in the first place? From what you are saying; you have pretty much replaced most of the front end parts as it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Its not my car, and this is what the owner complained about to begin with, the mechanic inspected and recommended these repairs (lower balljoints and tie rods), so I did the repairs myself, and the original issue they complained about still exists, tho now more prominent, probably due to the stiffness of the rest of the linkages.

I drove it around for a bit, steering seemed tight for about 15 mintues, then as I was in a lane, stopped, waiting to change lanes around a car in front, I had minor pressure on the wheel (tires turned 5-10 degrees left) then it "slipped" as if the pressure dropped for a split sec, and caught again a half inch later... tiny amount, as my pressure on the wheel was consistant when it happened.

they told me it gets worse than that, but for the 30 minutes i drove the car this is what i experienced. I guess you could say its uneven steering pressure.. hard to pin point the exact issue thanks for the replies

stutter or bind could be a good descriptor
 

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The key is figure out if its a mechanical component or the hydraulic aspect of the rack/pump system (sounds like a pressure issue). I haven't used it on a VW but I have used power steering conditioner on other cars with good success. The conditioner tends to swell the seals and has eliminated binding in some steering pump/racks that I have tried. I cannot say if it would work or would be compatible with a VW rack; I guess you could call lucas to make sure. If the rack is toast; it seems to me, you really don't have anything to lose by trying it (if thats what the problem is). If it doesn't fix it and the rack is done; you haven't lost much.

LUCAS OIL POWER STEERING FLUID W/CONDITIONERS

Lucas Oil Power Steering Fluid w/Conditioners : Lucas Oil


Lucas says its compatible with all hydralic floods and steering systems. You could call their customer service line to make sure:

Toll free: 800-261-0392

Pumps seem to be in the $175 to $250 range; steer racks in the $250 to $400 range. Some further testing; probably could be done by look at the Bentley manual, might be able to diagnose which one is possibly failing.

If you might consider replacing the rack yourself; here is a video that gives you a sense of what is involved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROE25-tfPco
 
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