How To Diagnose and Repair Problems with Your Imperial's Steering Hoses

Imperial Homepage -> Repair  -> Steering -> Hoses

Question from Chris:

Been talk of power steering pump rebuilds and what not, and I seem to remember someone mentioning a few months ago specifics about replacing the hoses: something about a certain kind of high pressure hose that the NAPA counter guys will sometimes not pay attention to, giving you a hose that is perhaps not high grade enough. Can anyone help me with the details? Also, how does one pull off the pulley so that I can open it up and replacethe seals?


From Paul:

The power steering preassure hose is hard to mess up. They are made special for your car, so when you buy one it is usually going to be made out of the right stuff.

The return hose is just a length of hose that LOOKS like regular old heater hose, but isn't. I think it may be 5/8" but I can't remember. The size is easy enough to check, the point is, get the correct kind of hose by explaining that it is for the power steering. They may sell you fuel line, which should be okay, only more expensive, as long as it is the correct size. Heater hose doesn't work.

From Eric:

Edelmann makes the proper PS return hose, Got a 3 foot length through local auto parts store. Edelmann can be contacted at 1-800-323-6294. They also make a correct pressure hose. Have used them for both my '67 Imp and '66 Chrysler. The return hose is 5/8 inch but I STRONGLY AGREEE -- DO NOT USE HEATER HOSE.

From William:

I suspect the return line might be closer to 3/8" rather than 5/8", just my gut suspicion, but I could be wrong. It's fine to get a length of hose that's a little longer than what you currently have, but not too long.

The genuine power steering hose will usually be stiffer and have a different feel and look than fuel line hose. I suggest that if the auto parts counter person questions that request for power steering spec hose, find someone that knows what you need and are talking about. Also you might take the old one for size reference. If you need to, don't forget to install some new hose clamps too and fresh power steering fluid.

Follow-up from Paul:

Good point about the length, Bell. I once saw a power steering return hose on a '62 Imperial that was wrapped around the auto pilot mechanism. It seemed unnecessary until after unwrapping it the hose moved and melted against the left exhaust manifold. This caused a catastrophic failure of the system and an oil fire under the hood. Oh yes, I believe that it was heater hose as well.

The owner of that car was me. I am a firm believer that we learn best from our own mistakes.

Follow-up from John:

The return hose is 5/8 on the 60's Imperials I have a feeling that is how some folks get the idea to use a length of heater hose, since it fits right on & they know the cooling system gets pretty hot & operates under pressure.

The problem here is that a heater hose won't stand up to the fluids in the steering & start to slough off from inside & depositing a lot of garbage throughout the system. Generally, by the time you notice something wrong, the damage has been done.

From Don:

I was able to locate the 5/8th PS hose at my local NAPA (as I recall they had to order it - 3 ft in the box). The 5/8th was also used on Mopars up through 66 - I parted out a Dart that used the 5/8ths. I believe 67 was the first year for the smaller hose.

Follow-up from John:

I had done this a number of years ago & the store got it from Gates. I lost the part number for it & when I needed one for another Imperial, the store couldn't find any info on it, so I ended up buying one from Mitchell's.

Question from Rex (1959):

I am wondering if anyone knows where I can acquire the pressure hose for the power steering in my '59 Crown? I have priced this hose from two of the well known dealers and both of them came in at over $60. This seemed unreasonable for a mere hose, but maybe there is something rare or unusual about it. I am accustomed to paying around $40 for newly fabricated hose, so I was hoping someone could help. Apparently this hose is not available through normal venues, such as NAPA.


From Dick:

There is indeed something special about these hoses - namely a flow restriction orifice inside the pressure hose, about 1 foot from the steering box end. Using a generic hose will produce a VERY noisy power steering pump, and general dissatisfaction all around.

I have bought replacement power steering pressure hoses for later Imperials from Autozone - they seem well made and cost about $40, as I recall.

From Bill:

I had this hose rebuilt, and I believe it cost me around $100.00 for the rebuild, and to have it reinstalled. It is a special hose in that it has to fit the couplings exactly. Mine was off for about two weeks, and believe me, trying to steer a 1959 Imperial without power steering is a real work out. I even canceled my membership to the gym!

From William:

There is a company I think called classic tube....on the web that can make up brake lines ..hoses..and such if you send in your original. I was thinking that they might be ones who make up a pattern piece the same time. So one hose may translate into several ..being made up over time. Might not be such a bad idea.

From John:

These hoses shouldn't be that hard to find.However, the easiest one to find may have a different shape where it connects to the steering box. Some are straight up & some have a 90 degree bend on them. The difference it what options the car has, such as autopilot. These fit all the large Chryslers & Imperial from about '59-'67.

Question from Rob (1966):

I had a new pressure side PS steering hose made up for my 66 Crown as a preventative repair. The old one was checked and appeared to have been repaired at one time as it was stepped down 1/2 in to 3/8 in hose. The return hose gave out some time ago and it seemed reasonable the pressure side would soon follow. I had no problem to replace hose (and the fitting at the steering box end) at the local hydraulics shop. However, after replacing the hose, filling the reservoir, starting the car and cycling the steering wheel side to side to purge air bubbles I discovered to my surprise the hose was hot. I stopped the engine and topped up the fluid and started cleaning up the mess thinking (smugly, I must say) this was a rather simple project completed. One last test for leaks, I thought, and done. WRONG! After about 2 minutes the PS hoses became hot enough to actually burn my hand when I moved them to check for leaks. A trip to the shop to examine the old hose for a flow control/check valve confirmed there was none, as suspected. I surmise the fluid become so hot because of excess pressure. There must be a valve or some such device in the system somewhere, but where to start? Can anyone help me out? I don't want to start taking apart components of the system at random on speculation. Please email directly or to the list with any suggestions. Apparently, as Dick B pointed out, what I thought was a cobbled together repair was actually the correct hose arrangement for this application. Unfortunately, we damaged the original hose and had to make up a new copy. The folks at the shop assure me it is a duplicate of the original with the step-down the same distance from either end (hose size) although the overall length is about 1 inch shorter due to the new coupler at the steering box (small) end. I jacked up the front end and turned the wheels back and forth (about a million times !) to bleed the air out of the system. To no avail !!! I still have over heating fluid. In under ten minutes at idle ... engine running, car in park, did not cycle steering ... the hoses became too hot to hold. There is a 'hissing' sound emanating from the steering box when the wheel position is at dead idle. Would this indicate air still in the system? Is there some other method to bleed the system? Could someone look up the precise stock hose size (inside diameter/length) so I can be absolute certain the new one is correct or advise a NOOSE part number (NAPA ??). ANY comments and ALL suggestions are welcome. This problem is all the more frustrating since cutting up the old hose searching for a 'check valve' we discovered it had only superficial surface damage. In other words, there was nothing wrong with it to start with!!!


From Bill:

There is a factory power steering fluid cooler which mounts on drivers side using 1 or 2 existing bolts & is connected in the return line & helps the heating problem a lot. We bought a new '69 NY'er, a new '80 Vogue Motor Home [last of the Dodge m. h. chassis], both had the factory cooler, neither had or have excessive power steering fluid heating.  I put one on each of my cars, Mopar & other brands. The cooler looks like a mini-mini- mini transmission cooler but mounts in the area of the a/c compressor & gets plenty of air flow. A trip to most any wrecking yard & you'll find more of these than you can use, I also see them at car parts swap meets & most people selling them don't have a clue what they are.

From John:

Since all the Imperials & big Chrysler products used this same hose from about 59-66 you would likely be able to get one at your local Napa. There are usually 3 hoses listed, all have same thread size . the biggest difference is on the end that goes to the box.  The metal piece on that end on one is a 90 degree angle to clear the autopilot if so equipped.  This is the hardest one to find at the parts store.  The straight up one is what you usually will find & should work, if no autopilot will easily work. with a bit of effort & more $$, can probably locate one through a vintage source such as Mitchell Motor Parts, Arizona Parts ,Len Dawson etc.

Another thought is what do you have for a return hose?  Some people substitute a piece of heater hose when they can't find the correct hose.  I read an article on this & the article said that since a heater hose isn't made to withstand hydraulic fluids, the hose will "slough off" from the inside & start plugging up the works. Gates makes the correct hose for this application.

Flushing should have been done after installing the new hose.  The easiest way for this is to put the PUMP end of the return hose into a gallon plastic jug & start and let drain, will drain rapidly & refill & drain once or twice more then reconnect return hose & refill with FRESH fluid. Also be sure to use power steering fluid, never transmission fluid.

From PEN:

The old high pressure power steering hose was normal. They are all stepped down from 1/2 to 3/8 hose. It is also normal for that hose to get really hot, hot enough to burn your hand after having driven the car some distance. The only other thing I would do is shield that hose, or encase it in another larger hose so that if it ever bursts, it will not be able to spray hot oil onto the exhaust manifold and set the engine on fire. That happened to me.

From Roy:

Sounds like an obstruction in the steering gear is causing excessive back pressure and creating the heat. If there is no pressure on the steering wheel, the fluid should freely flow through the steering gear until the wheel is turned and the valve inside the steering gear directs the hydraulic fluid to do its work.  Try removing both hoses from the pump, drain as much fluid from the hoses by lowering them over a pan, and then blow through the pressure hose. You should be able to easily blow the remaining fluid out and hear a gurgling noise, if not, there is something wrong

From Leo:

Check your new hose for obstructions. When the hose was made up, they may heve peeled some of the rubber inside when they installed the fittings. If it's a straight hose just hold one end up to a light, you should be able to eyeball it. Apply air pressure from both ends, see how the flow is. The easiest way is to get another hose, no big deal. You may have gotten some dirt into the steering box when you swapped hoses.

From MStout:

Sounds like the spool valve is out of adjustment, causing the restriction.

Update from Rob:

Here is an update on my power steering over heating problem:

1. replaced pressure line with new hose ... same diameter end to end. if there was no problem before changing the hose, the only 2 things I could possibly think of being wrong is #1 as Dick says not a correct type hose or #2 contaminated fluid.

2. Good advise. I went back to the shop and had the original hose ... now irreparable ... duplicated exactly. flushing should have been done after installing the new hose

3. Flushed old fluid as best I could and replaced it with new. The system took a little over a litre. Does this sound about right? another thought is what do you have for a return hose? some people substitute a piece of heater hose when they can't find the correct hose

4. I had replaced the return hose over 15000 miles ago with hydraulic hose supplied by the local truck repair shop. Sounds like an obstruction in the steering gear is causing excessive back pressure and creating the heat

5. This is my next step. I was pretty careful to cover every thing when I originally removed the hose but who knows ... stuff does happen. Can someone lend me some verbal experience on how to go about this? There are 2 bolts holding the hose housing on to the steering box. If I remove that housing will springs and ball bearings scatter like some kind of cluster bomb?

Question from Matt:

Just got two power steering hoses from the Auto Zone and size & lengths seem right for both the pressure and return, but what I thought was a "transmission cooler" (in front of the radiator/ac condenser) turns out to be a "power steering cooler"! To me that's really unusual, but I'm new to Chrysler's so maybe it's not for you "seasoned Chrysler nuts". Anyway, would like input/info as to (1) why did Chrysler install a power steering cooler (instead of a transmission cooler which would make some sense to me if you were towing a lot - and apparently the original owner did tow, as there is a place for a hitch in back, and had electric brakes control installed under the dash and is still there (although the 2nd owner that I bought the car from never used it or towed anything-he just left it on); and (2) if it's not an original type item guess I could remove it and the 3rd hose, which is a return hose to the steering box, and just run the return hose straight from the pump to the steering box. The return hose I bought doesn't have a molded 90 degree elbow in it, is that a problem? Where can you get a return hose with the molded in elbow to the pump?


From John:

This is an original item. They were available on 65 -66, maybe other years also, but never saw one on another year. Good question why no trans cooler for a towing package. You can use the regular hydraulic hose for the molded line, just won't be able to make as tight a bend in it as the original one. If the molded hose is good I'd leave it on there.

From Joe:

I just recently bought a power steering hose for my 61, and his book said 59 to 66 were the same. That was a Napa store. It is not quite like an NOS hose. But close enough for an every day driver.

Question from Nald (1962):

High pressure power steering hose sprung a leak. I want to have one made up at NAPA. What I need to know is what the steel fitting in the middle of the hose does. The hose is divided into two sections with screwed fitting at both ends. The two sections are different sized hoses. Joining them is a coupler or reducer. Anybody know what the function of that thing is? Do I need to have it put into the new hose?


From Dick:

Yes, it is important. It contains a flow restriction orifice. See if they can reuse the old one, or else see if you can buy an NOS hose from some other source. Running without the flow restriction will definitely cause problems, and a loud noise.

From Brad:

I'll have to second what Dick said on this and add...In addition to restricting the flow with the orifice, the larger diameter hose decreases the pressure at the steering unit inlet. With this type of setup, you have in effect a pressure regulator. No matter the pump speed, the orifice reduces the flow to a given velocity and the diameter of the hose reduces the pressure to a given psi. Using a straight piece of tubing will quickly trash your steering unit.

From Chris:

Napa should already have this hose in stock. I bought one last November.

Question from Bobby (1964):

I am hoping that I haven't really screwed something up. I blew a power steering hose on my '64 Crown the other day in a restaurant parking lot
while trying to squeeze around a tight corner with the wheel cranked to it's lock. Some mild drama was involved what with the flames glowing orange under the car (had an almost identical experience last year in my Cadillac). Everyone likes to come running to watch if they think there is an impending calamity. Of course, you get all the great advice about running away or opening the hood (thereby feeding oxygen to the flames). Anyway, the fluid that had sprayed onto the red-hot manifold and exhaust pipe burned out in a matter of a few conspicuous seconds. Absolutely no damage to anything under the hood but that did leave me with no power steering. Luckily I live close to this restaurant and was able to make it home without much trouble. Since AutoZone was close(I know some people have questions about the marginal quality of some of their parts), I went there to pick up a replacement. They had to order it so it took three days to get here. I got my shiny new hose which seemed absolutely correct and installed. My problem is that, as I was attaching the end of the hose that attaches to the steering box, I realized that the nut was not getting any tighter. I had no problems removing the old hose that would have lead me to believe there was a problem previously with the nipple coming out of said steering box. After realizing that I wasn't getting a good seal, I removed the nut and saw that the threads on the box seemed shallow so, not having good sense, I brought out my little tap-it set and went to town honing those threads. I still have not gotten a good seal and the nut keeps on spinning. The best seal I've managed to get still allows for a slow percolation of fluid up through the top of the hose fitting. Have I absolutely ruined this car and now need to part it out or is there something that can resolve this problem? I can't tell if I've ruined the threads in the hose fitting but would have no problem taking this hose back for a replacement if it would work. Any and all advice would be better than my continually working on it blindly until there are no identifiable parts left of what has been a nice Imperial.


From Kenyon:

You might have screwed something up, but it's not the end of the world or your car.

Worst case scenario: The threads on your steering box are shot and need to be repaired or replaced.

Repair would involve heli-coil, which might be tough due to the metal shavings involved.

Repair might involve taking the box out and having it rebuilt and the threads tapped/coiled at the same time.

Repair might involve a replacment steering box.

Steering boxes are very tough and usually only have seals that go bad, making the spruce-up of a "used" replacement box pretty easy in most cases. There are plenty of used steering boxes to be had out there.

Your car is NOT a goner. Don't start with crazy talk. That's what happened to the other 90% of the Imperial production that are already in Bob Hoffmeister's yard and the other places that dead cars go to.

You did not mention if the new hose part matches the old part for thinckness, etc. Are you using the same bolt??? Is it oriented properly? If the new one were taller it would prevent the nut from penetrating and tightenting the same number of threads as before?

Perhaps the crush-washers that go between the box and the hose and the bolt to seal it up are too thick or squashed out of shape? The leak sounds to be coming from the mating surfaces. Why is it doing this??? What is allowing a leak? Did the surface get marred? Are you using deformed washers? Is there an alternate washer that would seal better?

From Rob:

I would try to put the old hose back on. Certainly before parting out the car ;)I'm assuming the nut was still good. If it fits OK you know you just got the wrong hose. If you have trouble you'll know to look into repairing the threads.

From Neil:

Just a small note to add to all the advice you already have, is to compare old and new hose ends:-

Are the male threads the same size?

Are the nipple compression fittings on the hose ends the same i.e.. both convex or concave?

Did the nipple end of the old hose break off in the female fitting of your steering box thus stopping you from bolting the new hose all the way up?

Dont give up everything can be fixed on a car...

From John:

The valve where the hose connects can be removed & replaced seperately.You'll see 2 bolts, one on either side holding it down. Under the valve, yuo'll see 3 small o-rings. Its a good idea to replce those when changing the valve. There is a small amount of adjust up or down before tightening the mounting bolts. This can be a pain. If too far one direction, the steering wheel will turn by itself when you start the car. If that happens, slightly loosen the mounting bolts & gently tap it either up or down. If this makes it better, but not perfect, loosen & move it a little more. If its worse, move it the opposite direction. On some of them, the fitting itself where the hose connects can be removed & replaced. Check that out first. No need to remove the steering box for this problem.

Question from Jim (1965):

Do I need to have them made or does anyone know of a source. The thing is leaking like a sieve and I assume the hoses are probably original. Doesn't look too easy to change.  Any ideas?

Reply from Jim:

I was able to get both the high pressure and the low pressure hoses off the shelf at NAPA. I think they were fairly standard for a lot of cars for a lot of years. I don't recall having too much trouble changing them either. Better then adding fluid every day!

Question from Jim (1965):

Does anyone know if the New Yorker p/s hoses will fit a like year Imperial? The catalog has listings for the 1965 Chrysler big cars but not the 1965 Imperial. The bloody thing has now decided to lose fluid from somewhere so I'm assuming the hoses are probably due for replacement as well as any other leakers.


From Gene:

According to the Chrysler 1965 parts book the power steering hoses for Imperials are not the same as for the other Chrysler models.
ie: Imperial pump pressure hose is 2127 267 for the NY it would be 2127 507
Imperial pump return hose is 2127 376, for NY it would be 2127524
Imperial pump to oil cooler is 2267 696, for NY it would be 2537600
Imperial cooler to pump return is 2267 699, for NY it would be 2267 537

From Joe:

I just recently bought a power steering hose for my 61, and his book said 59 to 66 were the same. That was a Napa store. It is not quite like an NOS hose. But close enough for an every day driver.

Question from Frank:

I have to replace the high pressure hose on my power steering.  What is  the procedure for bleeding the system after I replace the hose?  Bleeding is mentioned in the service manual but I could not find out how.  Is there a bleed screw or something or do I just remove the low pressure hose and remove the air from there?


From Dick:

Just start the engine after you fill the reservoir and move the steering wheel to both stops a couple of times, then recheck the fluid. This should expel all the air.

From Norm:

As I understand it, you turn the steering wheel from lock to lock until you do not hear any more pneumatic "burps", checking every 2 or 3 revolutions to make sure the fluid level is ok.

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