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Troubleshooting lift truck steering problems.

If the steering system is acting up, check the hydraulic circuit first for these problems and their sources.

Responding to reader requests, we're turning the spotlight on hydraulic difficulties that can affect a lift truck's steering system.

First, though, we need to emphasize that what follows is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject. Our intent is to cover six of the most frequently-reported steering-related problems. Here, then, are some problems and their possible sources or causes:

Too much force is required to turn the steering wheel.

/ The priority valve is releasing pressure oil at a low setting. / The pump pressure is low, indicating a worn pump. / Steering gear covers are too tight. / Steering column is not correctly aligned with the steering gear. / Priority valve spool is being held in one position. / The steering gear needs lubricant. / Fluid level in the hydraulic supply tank is too low.

The steering wheel does not return to its center position correctly.

/ Steering gear covers are too tight. / The steering column is incorrectly aligned. / Valve spool in the steering gear has a restriction. / The priority valve's check valve is permitting lift and tilt hydraulic oil to affect the steering hydraulic circuit.

Oil leakage at the pump.

/ Loose hose connections. / Shaft seal is worn.

Low hydraulic oil pressure.

/ Low oil level. / Priority valve's relief valve spring is weak. / Relief valve (priority valve) will not move from the open position. / Oil leakage inside or outside of the system. / The pump is bad.

The pump makes noise and the steering cylinder rod does not move smoothly.

/ Air in the steering hydraulic circuit. / The pump has too much wear. / Loose connection of the oil line on the inlet side of the pump. / The viscosity of the hydraulic oil is incorrect. / The oil level in the supply tank is low.

The lift truck does not turn when the steering wheel is slowly turned.

/ The oil level in the supply tank is low. / There is air in the steering system. / The pump is not operating correctly. / There is dirt in the steering system. / The steering gear is not operating correctly. / Steering cylinder components are worn. / There's a restriction in the return line circuit.

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Author:Gould, Les
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Date:Jun 1, 1995
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