It’s been some time since Street Muscle Magazine started incorporating late model content into its digital pages. And yet, it has taken just as long for us to produce a late model project car. Sure, we have several classic muscle car projects that scratch any particular itch from pro-touring to street/strip and beyond. But, that got us thinking…What should we do for our newly initiated late model muscle car lovers? What about a fun daily driver?
Well, if you’re anything like us, your precious “free time” which likely lands on nights and weekends, is spent in the garage wrenching on your classic ride. It’s something we truly love, but too often we find ourselves without any wheels for that weekend cruise or cars and coffee because our beloved muscle cars from yesteryear remain on jack stands. All in the effort to produce riveting content for the wanting masses of Street Muscle fans.
Woe is us! Okay, enough with the sob story and on to the new project.
We wanted something old enough and common enough to be loved by the aftermarket. Something strong, capable, and well-rounded from the factory. Something that could serve as a multi-purpose vehicle for daily driving, touring, the occasional track day, and journalistic comparison. And, of course, something easily modified for the inevitable tech installation articles.
We landed on the 2010 Camaro SS/RS you see, here. As the first production year of the 5th-gen Camaro, it’s a high-mileage unit with just over 185k miles on the clock. As such, it isn’t without a well-worn charm. But, what we got with dirty floor mats and some slightly cracked leather seats is a stout LS3 V8 and TR6060 Tremec manual transmission. Both of which, sit upon GM’s fabled Zeta platform. Basically, it’s not a car that’s perfect at any one thing, but it does everything relatively well – even after ten years.
The previous owner made some tasteful aesthetic modifications with some ZL1 replica wheels, Eibach lowering springs, wickerbill spoiler, and ZL1 side skirts. Save for the lowering springs though, it has no performance modifications to speak of and the interior of the car is bone stock. All of which, are reasons we chose this relatively unmolested Camaro.
The Daily Camaro, as the name implies, was never going to be a trailer or garage queen. So the mileage didn’t deter us. In fact, we welcomed it. If nothing else but for the simple ability to showcase the longevity of what some consider to be a masterpiece of GM engineering. That said, things wear out over time.
While our Camaro is actually in great shape for its age, that doesn’t mean we intend to take it easy on it. In fact, within the first few months of owning it, we have been beating the hell out of this thing! The late-model Chevy has been pulling double-duty as our daily commuter and weekend canyon cruiser, smashing some of Southern California’s most scenic highways. It was on a trip up Palomar Mountain that the factory power steering pump decided to call it quits.
After a whole morning and afternoon of spirited driving up and down the mountain, the power steering fluid was boiling. So much so, that it rendered the seals in the stock power steering pump all but useless. Which, in turn, (no pun intended) caused some unwanted dead spots in the steering. It actually created some noticeable understeer which became quite dangerous when our steering was suddenly…unpredictable. We thought it best to call it a day and head home.
By the time we got there, we could hear the factory pump whining. Sure enough, when we popped the hood power steering fluid lined the inside of our engine bay from wall to wall. An unfortunate mishap, but something that could have been avoided if we had the right part for that type of driving.
In this article, we will detail the process of ordering a custom pump from TurnOne High-Performance Steering Systems. Specifically, its HP2 series pump for the 5th-gen Camaro. We will then illustrate the installation process. We will then offer a first-hand account of before and after driving impressions.
But first, let’s discuss what makes a custom power steering pump from TurnOne superior to the stock pump that failed us. We sat down with Mark Kawiecki from TurnOne’s marketing department and he broke down some key elements that make a custom pump the way to go whether you’re doing the occasional track day or building an all-out racecar. Mark first explained some of the deficiencies the stock pump possesses before launching into how they remedied those problems with the HP2 series of pumps.
“Loss of steering assist, or steering dead spots, in a hard driving maneuver is typically a symptom of the pump’s pressure tuning. When the pump reaches its max operating psi, it goes into a pressure relief mode, and you instantly lose assist. This loss is often unexpected and dangerous, but this also means the pump is recirculating and superheating fluid, which eventually travels downstream. Increasing fluid temperatures can easily lead to shorter lifespans of both soft and hard steering components. Most stock pumps are not designed to handle aggressive vehicle and driving setups. This is why proper pump tuning is really important from a performance standpoint.”
When considering a customer’s needs, Mark explained how the experts go about building the right pump that can handle performance driving. They start with the obvious stuff – year, make, model, etc. Then they move on to the more specific points that determine which options will work best, such as what drivetrain the vehicle has and what modifications, if any, have already been done.
Mark says Turn One gets a lot of customers inquiring about the LS family of engines and there are a lot of options to mix and match. “Because LS components and accessories are so interchangeable and there are so many aftermarket options, we usually need to drill deeper into the customer’s accessory drive setup to ensure we’re getting them the best product for their needs and fitment. Whether you’re running stock or third party accessory components, we’ve got an upgraded pump that will fit.”
There are other things to consider as well. Mark explained the importance of asking questions about a customer’s driving habits, whether that means simply cruising the car, taking it to the occasional autocross, short course/ long course track days, or racing in a spec corvette class, circle track, or even late-model drifting.
“Any customer that calls, we’ll talk with them as long as needed to help diagnose issues and answer questions. We want to inform them and ensure they are getting the correct product for their application.” – Mark Kawiecki, TurnOne
“We keep our pump components in stock, but other than some accessory products, everything is built-to-order. We want to make sure every product we ship is custom-tuned for that customer’s vehicle and driving application, and more importantly, that it’s been tested to our standards and attention to detail. Essentially you’re getting a hand-build customized steering product. It’s not off-the-shelf and that’s why it costs a bit more.”
Mark went on to explain the superiority of the unit we ordered from Turn One, and specifically the HP2 Series pump line. “Our HP2 performance pumps offer key advantages. (1) Higher pressure capacity allows the pump to always give you assistance, even in a performance vehicle in highly demanding steering maneuvers where normal pumps would cut out. (2) By replacing stock pump internals with Turn One custom components, the pump runs more efficiently, lowering fluid temperatures and reducing parasitic engine draw. (3) We upgrade the driveshaft bearing, you can get customized pump flow rates, and you have the option of adding an exclusive driveshaft upgrade designed for supercharger applications.”
As we continued discussing the improvements Turn One is able to achieve, Mark touched on something important. He said, “The relationship between pressure and flow are really misunderstood, and people tend to be scared of increasing the pressure capacity of the pump. However, pressure is a variable based on what your vehicle needs. Pressure is what allows the pump to give you steering assistance, so when you improve cornering traction with greater tire width, reduced tire tread wear, or improve your suspension performance, these things increase your steering wheel loads and therefore demand more pressure requirements from the pump. Hydroboost brakes are the same way – you’re now asking your pump to power your steering gear, as well as your braking system, and most stock pumps, aren’t cut out for doing both.”
“Pumps build pressure on demand, so when you’re driving straight down the road and there is no steering input or wheel load, you pump is building minimal pressure. When you turn the wheel and the rack and pinion [or steering box] starts working, you’re pump builds the pressure it needs. So even a HP2 pump tuned to 1,800 psi doesn’t run at 1,8000 continuously. The higher capacity is just for those moments when your vehicle really needs it.”
Custom flow rates come into play when you start to mix-and-match different pumps and steering gears, like switching from a factory steering box to a rack-and-pinion system. Having the incorrect flow rate for your steering gear can result in either super sensitive steering, or very unresponsive, laggy steering response. For our Daily Camaro, changing flow rates isn’t necessary.
To begin the installation, we first removed the plastic engine cover by removing the oil fill cap and pulling upward on the cover. With the engine exposed, we removed the factory air intake and filter housing. We avoided disconnecting all of the sensors by simply rotating the intake out of the way while we worked which saved time on reassembly.
With the filter housing out of the way and the stock power steering pump exposed, we could remove it. You can see all of the power steering fluid that slung everywhere under the hood when our fluid boiled from hard driving and the stock power steering pump’s seals called it quits.
Before we could remove the power steering pump, we needed to siphon as much of the power steering fluid out as we could. Once that was done, we disconnected the high-pressure and low-pressure power steering lines from the bottom of the reservoir. We found a pair of channel locks worked best for the low-pressure clamp, and a flare wrench was fine for the high-pressure line.
With the lines disconnected, we removed the serpentine belt from the pulley by rotating the belt tensioner to create slack. We made sure to take photos of the orientation of the belt so we could route it the same way on reassembly. Once the pulley was rotating freely, we could access the three 9/16-inch bolts attaching the pump to its mounting bracket.
Once the factory pump was removed we got a side-by-side comparison of our new HP2 Pump and the old worn-out stocker. The reservoir is basically the same, but the custom pulley from TurnOne looks fantastic. Not only does the anodized aluminum pulley look way better, but it is lighter and has relief cuts that allow for an easier install.
However, weight savings and sleek looks aside, the internal construction of the HP2 Pump is where it separates itself from a stock pump. Like Mark mentioned, the pressure capacity and efficiency are what we’re after.
When it came time to install the new pump, it went exactly as the old one came out – very easily. We simply reversed the steps.
We began by bolting our new pump to the existing bracket which was still attached to the engine. The larger holes in the TurnOne anodized aluminum pulley made it much easier to access the bolts and line up the pump with the bracket. We then attached the high-pressure and low-pressure power steering lines using the same flare wrench and channel locks to do so. Creating slack in the serpentine belt using the belt tensioner allowed us to place the belt in the pulley’s grooves.
Once the HP2 Pump was re-attached, all we had to do to finish the installation fill the reservoir with high-performance power steering fluid, lift the front of the car. With the wheels in the air, we started the Daily Camaro and turned our steering wheel from lock to lock over and over again until the air in the power steering system was bled, and we could no longer hear the pump whining.
After we installed the HP2 Power Steering Pump, we had to put it through the same paces that killed our high-mileage stock pump. So, we took it up Old Highway 395 here in Southern California. We drove to the Palomar Observatory, and with no one else on the road, let’s just say it was more than spirited driving. Hard braking, hard cornering, heavy acceleration, and a copious amount of steering input were all eaten up by the Daily Camaro. The new pump performed exceptionally well. Not so much as a whine out of it, and we seriously beat on it.
Of course, once we made it home, we checked for any leaks, and there were none whatsoever. In fact, we are happy to report that after a one-thousand-mile thrash test of the Camaro and its new pump, it has performed flawlessly – no more whining pump and no more power steering fluid Rorschach tests under our hood.
We are going to continue flogging on and upgrading our Daily Camaro, so stay tuned for the next chapter, where we add some more bolt-on g0-fast goodies to our 5th-gen F-body.