I've been thinking about doing this for some time. My pump has seen better days (the pulley has a slight wobble). It would be be relatively easy to get a shorter belt that would just connect to the alternator. The question I have about this is; would draining the fluid form the system make it easier to turn the wheels, and is there any potential for damage.
Leave the pump and the lines and just bypass the pump.
I had a leaking rack on my old Toyota and I noticed no difference between having the the oil in the rack and not in the rack. Now, if you have inspection you might want to check what they'll say about a disconnected PS pump. They failed me for it and I had to buy a new rack before they would pass me. It was a safety inspection though not just an emissions test.
What car is this in? It's possible to have a car that had a non-power steering option or one could be swapped in. Those are MUCH easier to manually steer than going manual on a power unit.
Drove an 86 Aerostar for years, you can always hear a Ford by the whine of its power steering. My rack blew, so I started by putting in straight tranny fluid and finally I left an oil slick wherever I parked. I just pulled the belt, since it was a dedicated belt and the only thing bad about not having power steering in a power steering car is parallel parking. I would have to use both hands to jerk the wheel to make the thing turn. Freeway, just general driving was fine, but having to make a sharp turn at low speed will give you giant fore arms.
How much MPG will you gain by disconnecting it, littlle. Heres an idea, in your driveway start off by turning off the engine and trying to turn the wheels lock to lock, that's what it will feel like to parallel park, now do it 3 or 4 times and that will be the fun you get to have for parallel parking.
I think the previous idea about finding a non power rack at a junk yard would be the way to go, Ford Aerostars did not have a non power option and the rack casting were wierd so you couldn't swap em with a Taurus or Mustang.
I've had power steering quit in several cars, all but one of them I repaired it right away. I'm all for exercise, but I would rather not get it in an emergency situation where I needed to turn quickly. The one car I did not fix the power steering on was a 1962 Rambler American. There was almost no difference turning the wheel with the car stopped whether the p/s was working or not. As far as MPG, there was no discernible difference with or without p/s.
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Re-adjust the pressure relief valve to open at a lower pressure. The pump will put out the same volume, but won't require as much engine effort to turn it. You'll have to make up the difference with armstrong assist. Some unquantifiable saving on fuel there.
Or as I did by installing a smaller crank drive pulley. The pump (waterpump, too) turns slower thus using less energy. The full assist pressure is still there, but real fast lock to lock turns uses up the available flow rate. I only experience that on the autocross course, but I did with the normal speed pulley too.
I've replaced PS pumps, mostly because the bearings inside were wearing out, and the pump was noisy. I've never taken one to the point of complete failure.
My mother's old 88 LeBarron had a noisy pump, dad was on his way to the auto parts store to buy a replacement. When he pulled into the parking lot there was smoke from the hood. The pump was on fire. He pulled in front of the store, ran in, picked up a fire extuingisher, and threw his credit card on the counter on his way out the door. Put the fire out, then came back in and bought a new pump. It was quite an adventure.
Forget about turning my steering wheel with the engine off . . . even with the tires jacked up off the ground it is hard to do and not recommended in the owners manual. So it will vary with the system - definately needs to be lubricated and leaking seals will cause an inspection problem and a leaking pump also from what I remember. You can always pick one up used.