Installing an External Power Steering Cooler in a 2010 Ford F150

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My last article diagnosed my issue of a leaking power steering cooler on my 2010 Ford F150.   To those who have not read it, the power steering cooler happened to be built into the top area of my AC condenser which left me with what seemed to be an expensive repair.  (Replace condenser, recharge system).

here is a link to that article for reference:

http://www.radiatorhelpline.com/2016/11/power-steering-leak-diagnosis-Ford-F150.html

Seeing as I was feeling quite cheap during this holiday season and have a very needy gluten free girlfriend, I decided to go for gold and purchase an external power steering cooler and install it myself.  I figured since the AC condenser was working fine, this would be a perfect way to bypass this issue.

Of course I purchased my external cooler from my employers website, RadiatorExpress.com
They offer multiple sizes online from 10,12,15,18 inch coolers.  They offer both the flat radiator type of coolers as well as the round cylinder type external coolers.

12 inch Round Cooler

As you can see from my illustration, I went for the 12 inch round cooler.  I can't for the life of me tell you which would be more efficient, but there is something plain sexy about the round cooler and for a $50 price tag I couldn't resist.

The 12 inch cooler comes with 2 NPT fittings that are listed to be 1/4 inch, but seemed to be close to 3/8.

The cooler that is built into the AC condenser has 2 fittings.  top line (Intake) is 1/2 inch while the bottom is 3/8.

To make this transition work, I knew the bottom line would be ok, but we'd need to step the top hose down to fit the cooler.

Supplies to change the top hose:


Home Depot, Plumbing Isle (#12)

3/8 in ID x 3/8 in MIP
with a Coupling raccord, 3/8 FIP
connected to 1/2 " x 3/8 MP Barb

As you can see from the illustration, the 2 fittings attached by the coupling raccord takes the line size and steps it down to what we'll need for the top hose.


For mounting I went with a couple basic metal extensions that I found from the framing isle in Home Depot in case I needed to drop the cooler when installing.



Once I got to work, the hood latch bolt was screaming for me to use it.  that's one less hole I need to drill and was a nice spot for me to test if the cooler was going to stick out too much.  I began by removing this bolt and securing the cooler.  A quick test of the hood and we were a no go.  the cooler was not going to clear the hood in this spot.  Thankfully I had those little metal frame extension pieces and went right to work installing one off the existing hood latch and another by drilling into the frame on the other side.  I did make sure to mount the cooler on the latch side and place it level across the condenser to gauge the correct spot for our other mounting location.

Once I had the other mounting extension installed, I secure the cooler and it was off to figuring a way to get the hoses in to place.

The bottom hose for the power steering is very flexible and I knew this one would be a breeze, so of course I started there.  Using a flat head screw driver and pliers, I removed the hose from the condenser.  I was able to then just pull the hose to the front and attach it right to the external cooler.  EASY PEASY, this was going great.  Some teflon tape and a hose clamp and I was in business with a perfectly connected power steering return line.

Now to the hard part.. the upper line.  This line is completely metal and form fitted into place.  I used the same method with the pliers and screw driver to get the hose disconnected, but this hose didn't want to move.. as hard as I jammed at it, I could not bend or move it.  I went up top and found a section of hose where I could cut the line and proceeded to saw it apart.  

I attached my home depot step down connection from the 1/2 to the 3/8.  I did need some additional hose and ended up cutting some off my air compressor in this case.  I knew that was rated to at least a couple hundred PSI which should be enough for this cooler.  If you need to find a hose, I would suggest an auto supply store.  Home depot did have some 55 PSI clear hose in the right size in the plumbing isle, but i was not too confident in using that.

With the new hose in place, I could run it right to the top line and clamp in place.



Of course before attaching the NPT fittings to my cooler, i added teflon tape..  This is important as I did experience some slight leaking from the cooler upon initial install and was able to really tighten down to stop it having protected the thread.


 I topped off the power steering fluid and started the vehicle.  I ran for a couple minutes through what sounded like a terrible crying noise, then added an another bottle of fluid to compensate for what was probably lost from bypassing the existing cooler.  The vehicle seemed to really suck up the extra fluid and after some turning of the wheel seemed to ease up on the noises.  Once what I figured were air bubbles were out of the system, she was purring like a kitten.





Here is a picture of the cooler with the hood closed.  The 12 inch cooler mounted from the hoot latch really is as large as you can go.  there are some supports in the hood and this cooler just clears as if it was meant to be there.  I would assume if you want to use a longer cooler you would then need to drill the extension brackets on both sides to center the cooler so that the hood will close.





A quick power wash was also in order as the cooler in the AC condenser was still leaking the additional fluid that was left inside.  In fact, I had drips for a couple of days as it cleared out.  I suggest your keeping an eye on your power steering fluid level as you monitor this weeping to be sure you don't have an active leak.  I used some boxes under the truck to keep an eye on things for a week or so as well as protect my driveway as things cleaned up.


Below is a quick summary of the parts required for the job.

6 small clamps
3 fittings
teflon tape
3 feet high pressure hose
Pliers
Screwdriver
Ratchet
Drill
extension brackets
sheet metal screws
Extra power steering fluid