The other day I noticed a squealing coming from my power steering pump, I checked the fluid and it was fine. I was planning to take it (98 TJ) to a mechanic to have it checked out. But before I could, the squeal shot up in volume, followed by a fear inspiring clank and the engine seized.
I feared the worse, that the engine was shot. It would not turn over. But, I took off the serpentine belt, and it started fine. So, the problem was limited to a seized power steering pump.
A got a quote from a mechanic for replacing the pump, $400. That inspired me to do some research. After reading posts on this site, I decided to tackle the project myself. It seemed like a project well suited to my limited mechanical skills. The project was ultimately successful, but I ran into a few setbacks along the way.
First, I pretty much destroyed the low pressure connection on the reservoir trying to detach the hose. A problem several other posters had.
Second, DO NOT try and remove a power steering pulley with a standard gear puller. A friend of mine brought his gear puller over and assured me, repeatedly, that it was the proper tool. Determined to show me how to do it, he launched into the project; 30 minutes later he had destroyed the pulley and stripped the threads of his puller. Yet, the pulley remained attached.
You HAVE TO use a specific power steering pulley tool. I rented a kit from O'Reilly; pulley came off in 5 minutes, no issues. And the kit comes with the tool you'll need to attach your new pulley.
To my friend's credit, he covered the cost of the tool rental and the new pulley. The power steering pulley had humbled him.
The new pump went in easily, with the exception of one problem; connecting the low pressure hose. Seriously is there some secret to dealing with hoses? It took me 45 minutes to move that hose an inch onto the connector. The hose is 13 years old, should I have replaced it? Is it easier to work with newer hose? Logic would say yes.
Finally, if it's the first time you've ever removed a serpentine belt, and you made a map before you took it off. Really study the map when you put the belt back on. Don't spend a hour wondering why the belt isn't tightening. Watching YouTube vedieos on the subject, swearing you're doing exactly what they're doing, without success. Then you look at your map again, and it dawns on you, doh! The belt isn't even on right.
It was an adventure, the pump has been replaced. My TJ is running great, and I learned a lot in the process. And, I spent $100 vs. $400. To be honest, I'm kinda looking forward to the next project.
Thanks to everyone who ever posted info. Remember DO NOT try and use a gear pulley to remove a power steering pulley. Get the right tool.