For most people, the first time they pay any attention to the power-steering pump is when it either boils over or starts making a horrible howling noise, and this is often during the middle of an autocross or open-track day. LS1 powered F-bodies are notorious for burning up pumps. GM recognized this problem and started installing an oil-to-water power-steering cooler on the '98 SS and WS6 F-bodies, and also providing it as an option on all LS1-powered F-bodies. By 2000, the cooler was standard equipment on all LS1 F-bodies. While the cooler is a reasonable fix for most street and mild track use, it only treats the symptom.
Sports cars are almost never driven to their potential. Most people want the image without any of the sacrifices of a race car. Because of this, most will never experience the precise steering that is possible when pump volumes are not over boosted.
If you have ever driven a domestic car from the '70s, you probably remember being able to parallel park with one finger on the wheel. While Grandma probably saw this as a sign of quality, it can cost half a horsepower at low rpm and as much as 3 hp at 5,000 rpm. Over the past 20 years automakers started paying more attention to steering effort versus driver feedback, but they still have to compromise for parking-lot maneuvers. Stock pumps have relatively high flow rates at low rpm to allow for those low-effort maneuvers. Unfortunately, this extra flow manifests itself as a disconnected feel on the highway and boiled fluid at the autocross or road course.
Turn One, the largest supplier of steering pumps and gears to Nextel Cup, has the solution: Blueprinted, reduced-flow, 40-series power-steering pumps for all '93-02 F-bodies and '84-and-later Corvettes. Turn One claims its pump will reduce or eliminate power-steering overheating and may improve steering feedback.
Turn One's pumps and steering gears were under the hood of four Winston and Nextel Cup champs in the last five years, so I figured I was in pretty good hands, but I still wanted to do some testing. Follow along as I test Turn One's pump at the autocross with some help from Auto Meter.