Project VehiCross Part 4: The Single Worst Repair...In The World!

by David Zipf

Last time you read about our VehiCross project, we ended with a tease about how bad replacing a power steering hose is.  Originially, this was going to be the closer of our previous post, but as the power steering hose balooned, it took on a life of its own.  A few years ago, I replaced the same hose on my 240SX.  It took a little more than an hour and was fairly easy to do with the most basic of hand tools.  In the VehiCross, it took 11 hours spread over three days.

No, that's not an exaggeration or a typo.  Oh and I banged up the first joint of my thumb so bad I was in a splint for a week and sore for another.  Luckily for you, there are a few things you can do to make this repair slightly less dramatic (and painful).  That said, even if you do things the right way, it will still take the better part of a day to do this seemingly simple repair.


The problems stem from the VX's power steering routing and location.  The pump is at the bottom of the engine and inaccessible from the top of the engine bay.  Luckily, Isuzu built in a service window into the fender.  The high pressure line has a rubber section, connected to a long loop of steel hardline.  This loop is used as a cheap fluid cooler.  It runs next to the radiator before looping back and into the steering box.  The fitting between the hard and soft lines is nestled between the radiator and fender, with the steering box, airbox, and engine making it impossible to service in the car (there is no room for tools whatsoever).  You can see the routing in the above picture, mocked up using MS Paint and an Isuzu service manual image.  
Here you can get an idea of how tight things are.  The high pressure hose is in the foreground and you can see where it disappears under the power steering pump.  On the left is the radiator and on the right is the inner fender.  Once again, in the front, the hose disappears into the abyss of the VX's engine bay.
The big tip (and the cause of most of our trouble) is that to properly replace the high pressure hose, you will have to remove the radiator.  The long loop of hardline simply does not pull out from the top or bottom of the truck with the radiator in place.  You CAN do the service with the radiator in, but it will cause more problems than it solves.  Trust us on this: you really do need to pull the radiator.  This should also be your first step.  This will also not be the first time you curse Isuzu's design team.  You will have to pull the upper air box and MAF regardless.  We found (the second time) it was easier to pull the entire intake tract instead of just the box.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015 11:13 AM
There's no such thing as a good Duralast part! Maybe a battery.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 11:52 AM
Their batteries aren't so hot either as I'm finding out. Also, after this slipshod repair, I'm inclined to agree!
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 6:53 PM
For some reason power steering lines are always the worst thing to replace on every car. You should try it on a PT Cruiser. I would have burnt that fucker to the ground if the owner hadn't stopped me.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:28 PM
You've clearly not read enough of Dave Coleman's articles, in one he talks about re-annealing old copper crush washers with a torch. Seriously though, keep this article handy. You're going to need it in about a year when that POS Autozone line starts weeping. But hey, at least they'll give you another POS for free. Lucky for me, all my oil/PS/whatever lines are super easy to get to on my truck so until I stop being a cheapass and go with some AN stuff, putting more garbage parts on is a snap.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 10:47 PM
@Supercharged111: You clearly didn't read closely enough :) This Dave links to other Dave's article on the final page. He didn't have a torch to use at the time or he would have gone the re-annealing route.
Thursday, October 22, 2015 1:11 AM
Dude, Autozone should not be your part supplier.
Thursday, October 22, 2015 11:51 AM
Can confirm Autozone is shite. Bought a radiator for my mom's TL and it leaked straight away. Kicked myself then sacked up for a Denso.
Friday, October 23, 2015 7:33 PM
@Fly'n_Z: I still give myself credit for the reading comprehension I did have, I was pretty drunk when I read it.
Sunday, October 25, 2015 11:50 PM
First off, snakes are more often then not bilingual. That little guy probably knew what a 10mm socket was, he was more than likely just being lazy. It would seem like Izuzu was taking a cue from their German automotive counterparts. I.e., in order to R&R a single component. You must first remove 3 to 4 other components to even access the original part of significance. All the while, that final component lies wedged between a piece of the frame and some other component and/or some thick cable of wiring. I'm not bitter though. Lol. O_O
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:22 AM
I had this same experience on a Trooper. Even with all the advantages the dealer provided, I hated life.

I'm sure someone's said something about this already, and I can't remember if it was just the Rodeo or if it included the Trooper, which the VX is based off, but on the Rodeos and Axioms at least, there's a tube for the EGR behind the throttle plate that gets plugged up with carbon crud. A power drill with some frayed steel cable will clean it out pretty efficiently.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:26 AM
^ Though I'm seriously doubting the later Troopers and VXs had that pipe on further reflection. In the 4 years I worked there, I saw one VX, once, so beyond knowing they're pretty close, mechanically, to the Trooper, I'm not that familiar with them.

I seem to remember them doing away with that EGR system in the later models, but it's been about 6 years since I last touched one.
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