Project VehiCross Part 4: The Single Worst Repair…in the World

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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