Hi guys! I am a US Air Force major stationed in Venezuela for the time being. I have a 2003 Mercedes E320 (W211) and recently started having great difficulty with the steering. It has become unbearably hard to turn, even while moving. I replaced PS pump & valve and scanned using STAR tool but have yet to resolve the problem. Our embassy mechanic says it could be steering rack or a  PS hose which supposedly has a check valve that sometimes fails. Can you provide any advise regarding this problem? Is there a common steering ailment for this model car? Thanks in advance for any help provided! Major Loebe-out. 

1. Occurs when warm or cold

2. Occurs while driving as well as parked

3. Occurs always

4. Problem commenced about 3 months ago

5. No light or indicator on dash




This cars have speed sensitive power steering, in order to make it more 'stiff' as you drive faster. This, of course, can fail, usually because of faulty pressure regulating sensor (located on steering rack), or wheel speed sensor. 

This usually gives a code 213. Did you have any codes when scanned the car? 

Also, do you have access to a car lift, so you can raise the car and check if the steering rotates freely when of the ground? 

Hi Boki!

Thanks for the reply. I changed out the pressure sensor on the rack and I am getting no codes when scanned. With the car raised the steering becomes very supple and easy, as it should be when on the ground. Where is the wheel speed sensor? 

I am thinking I should buy the rack as it is the only piece left to change out. It is truly horrible to be in this country without a car! 


Maj. Loebe - out.

Maj. Loebe, I am affraid that it will be the rack.

Just one thing - what kind of PS fluid do you have? Red (atf) or green (pentosin). As wrong fluid can case many problems. 

Speed sensors are on each wheel hub, behind brake rotors. But they would give a code if faulty. 

Hi Boki.

By process of elimination, I also feel it is the rack, sadly. The PS fluid was supplied by an MB dealer in my hometown stateside (Houston) and supposedly it's the original and required one for that car. I will start seeking a rack on Ebay because there are absolutely no Mercedes parts in this country! Hopefully Pres. Trump's promised military pay raise will kick in this month so I can afford the darn thing! Carless in Venezuela is like dollarless in a titty bar! LOL! Thanks, buddy. Maj. Loebe - out.

You may also have a worn power steering pump which is not generating the required pressure. 

Hi guys!

We swapped out a PS pump from another E320 here at the embassy which is working perfectly and unfortunately, it didn't resolve the problem. Parked it is almost impossible to turn the steering wheel... thanks, though! Maj. Loebe - out. 

In case the price is beyond my possibilities, is it possible to repair the rack? What normally malfunctions in them? I am guessing it would be the seals as it is a hydraulic system but I honestly haven't a clue... thanks!

Maj. Loebe - out. 

Racks can be reconditioned, and this is usually the best option for a 10+ old car. 

However, this needs to be done by ZF specialist, who has tools, knowledge and parts. Not sure if you will find that in Venezuela. 

Maybe it would be best if you source a reconditioned rack from the US, over the ebay or contacting specialist workshops directly. 

I am working on bringing a rack down but now have been advised of a secondary problem regarding the steering system. Please instruct me if the info is wrong but a captain in Europe said that using a conventional PS fluid in MB will irreparably damage the system. Is this correct? Because I am almost 100% certain that if this car ever needed PS fluid a normal off the shelf brand was used! (no CHF fluid here!). 

I would like to appeal to any readers that may have a rack laying around that could part with it for a decent price!  I am unable to pay the $200 plus for a used rack plus the couple of liters of CHF. I have a brother in USA that can arrange the payment and we have an embassy courier in Doral, Florida! Think of it as supporting your troops!

Of all the embassies in all the world I get sent to this hellhole! If we haven't our own cars, we are obligated to go out escorted and that makes any excursions very dangerous, drawing attention to ourselves! 

I would really appreciate any help I can get! 

Maj. Loebe - out. 

Hi. That is why I asked if you have atf or pentosin. MB uses mostly pentosin (green stuff). 

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