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GM Pontiac Grand Prix Power Steering Fluid Maintenance Guide
Instructions for eliminating whines & groans due to low power steering fluid in a General Motors 3800 Series II engine.

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This guide was written to assist owners of the 2001 GM Pontiac Grand Prix GTP sedan equipped with the 3800 Series II Eaton M90 supercharged engine, in eliminating engine bay noises that are due to low power steering fluid in the reservoir.

The GM 3800 Series II engine, which was on the Ward's list of 10 Best Engines of the 20th Century, has powered General Motors vehicles from Saab, Cadillac, Chevrolet (Chevy), Buick, Pontiac, Holden, Oldsmobile, and Saturn. Some of the vehicle models that have the L37 N/A (naturally aspirated) or L67 S/C (Eaton M90 supercharged) versions of this great engine include the Bonneville, Grand Prix, Grand Am, Park Avenue, Regal, Century, LeSabre, Riviera, Cobalt, Malibu, Intrigue, Ion, Firebird, Lumina LTZ, Commodore, Monaro, Seville STS, Deville, Cadillac DTS and Chevy Monte Carlo SS. The newer 2004+ cars with the GM 3800 Series III L26 N/A and L32 S/C engines might also have similar power steering fluid maintenance procedures.

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GM 3800 Series II Engine
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Back Left Side of Motor
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Strut Tower Brace Unbolted

My 2001 GM Pontiac Grand Prix GTP began making some groaning and whining noises in the engine bay a few days ago.

After some online research, I learned that the noises could either be caused by a failing power steering pump or just from a low power steering fluid level in the P/S reservoir.

My first step was to learn where the power steering fluid reservoir is located on a General Motors 3800 Series II 3.8 Liter L67 Eaton M90 supercharged V6 engine by using the owner's manual.

It is located on the left (passenger) side of the engine, just below the alternator and close to the firewall.

To access the power steering fluid reservoir, I would have to unbolt one side of my front Buick strut tower brace (STB) (two 14mm bolts) and the coolant overflow bottle (two 10mm bolts).

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Coolant Overflow Bottle
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Power Steering Reservoir
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Below Alternator
If you have small arms or don't mind getting your arm covered in grease, it is possible to get to the power steering fluid reservoir without removing anything. I found that it was much easier to access the power steering reservoir by removing the bolts on the left side of my aftermarket Buick STB (strut tower brace) and the coolant overflow bottle. Then there's more than enough room to reach your arm down in the space between the alternator and the wall of the passenger side strut tower.
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Power Steering Dipstick
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Pyroil Power Steering Fluid
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Funnel & Tubing
To check the level of power steering fluid in the reservoir, wipe off the dipstick, insert it back into the reservoir and then remove it again. The dipstick in my PS reservoir had no fluid on it at all, which would explain the groaning & whining noises. Try to wait at least an hour after driving the car to check the power steering fluid level.
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Funnel & Tube In Reservoir
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Tube Between Hoses
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Tubing In Reservoir
The best way to add fluid to the power steering reservoir is by using a funnel with a short length of hose or tubing attached. You can either buy an automotive funnel at any auto parts store that already has some tubing attached, or make your own. I chose a small white plastic kitchen funnel and used Scotch tape to secure a small piece of clear plastic tubing that I had laying in my scrap materials box.



 

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Filling Power Steering
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Checking Dipstick
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Double Checking Dipstick
I placed the plastic tube in between the two large black hoses just behind the alternator and threaded it down into the power steering reservoir. Then I poured in a few ounces of Pyroil power steering fluid at a time and repeatedly checked the level using the dipstick to avoid overfilling the reservoir. Overfilling the reservoir can lead to power steering pump damage.
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Re-Attaching Coolant Bottle
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Re-Attaching STB
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Job Done!
I did a final check of the power steering fluid reservoir level and saw that it was about halfway in between the "Add" and "Hot" lines. I re-attached the coolant overflow bottle with a 10mm socket and the Buick strut tower brace with a 14mm socket. Finally, I went out for a short drive that included a hard u-turn and noticed that I could no longer hear the groaning or whining noises from the engine bay. The steering wheel also seemed to be easier to turn.

For more of my related automotive how-to guides, check out the following links: Pontiac Grand Prix Power Window Motor & Regulator Replacement Guide, Pontiac Grand Prix Alternator Replacement Guide, Pontiac Grand Prix PCV Valve Replacement Guide, GM 3800 Series II Engine Oil Change Guide, Pontiac Grand Prix ABS, TCS OFF & SES Problem, GM Wheel Bearing Hub Assembly Replacement Guide, Eaton M90 Supercharger Oil Change Guide, Buffing Old Faded Headlights, K&N Air Filter Cleaning Guide, HP iPAQ PDA & Garmin GPS 10 Car Navigation System, and Car Interior Carpet Replacement Guide.
 

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