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Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin,
Category: Mazda
Satisfied Customers: 254
Experience:  Technician at Wile Hyundai
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The short version? It's a long story that has stumped just about everyone.
JA: Sometimes things that you think will be really complicated end up being easy to fix with Mazda. The Mazda Mechanic I'm going to connect you with knows all the tricks and shortcuts. Tell me a bit more about what's going on so he can help you best.
Customer: It's an issue with the power steering that doesn't fit any of the typical power steering problems
JA: Have you checked the power steering fluid? Will the wheel turn at all?
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Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Mazda
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Just purchased a 2010 Mazda 3 with 59,000KM
Power steering works fine at all times EXCEPT when stationary. When stationary the steering is very stiff. It requires two arms and significant effort to turn lock to lock.
I have sat in and tried several other Mazda 3s (2009, two 2010s and a 2013) and in every case I could spin the wheel easily with one hand.P/S fluid level is fine and no signs of leaks
P/S fluid looks and smells fine
Tire pressures are at the recommended pressure 35psi
Stock 16" Alloy wheels
There are no warning lights on the dash, neither the P/S light or the CEL
There are no unusual noises from the P/S pumpI have searched several Mazda 3 forums and no one seems to have this particular problem (poor P/S only when stationary)At first I thought it might be the pump, but I never have any problem at any speed above stationary. No warning lights, no unusual noises.Then someone mentioned a low battery could be the cause. I connected a brand new fully charged battery in parallel and it made no difference.Then someone mentioned that the Vehicle Speed Sensor sends a signal to the P/S which sounded promising, but I have no other symptoms of a bad sensor like Speedometer issues.Looking online I see that the Steering Angle Sensor also sends a signal to the PS but I'm not sure if that would cause this problem.I took it to the dealership for a quick look (not a full troubleshooting) and two techs there were stumped and said they'd never seen this issue before.
I phoned the service departments of six other dealerships and none of them had heard of this issue.The techs suggested trying a full flush as the first step and then replacing the pump if that doesn't work. I don't mind throwing some money at a flush but I don't want to pay $950 for a new pump plus labor just on a whim when there's no guarantee the pump is the problem.I asked about just changing the pump itself ($135 part) rather than the whole pump-module assembly, I wanted to know if it was more likely that the pump or the module could be the problem. They didn't know.BTW I tried turning the steering with the car on but not running and it was much harder to turn. Which tells me the PS is working, just not hard enough when stationary.To me it seems the problem is likely in the logic somewhere. Obviously steering requires more effort when the car is stationary due to the added friction, which is why the PS *should* provide more assist at that time.I suppose the pump could just be weak at all speeds and it's only noticeable while stationary.But whatever it is it isn't throwing any codes (that I know of)
I have ordered an OBD II scanner but the techs told me that if the CEL isn't on then there are no codes to be read)BTW I hooked a spring scale to the steering wheel rim and it showed 10lbs of force required to turn the wheel 90 degrees. The effort gets greater as you near the full lock but I never measured that.The final piece to the puzzle is that I was able to track down the previous (and original) owner. He reported that he always thought the steering seemed stiff but was told "they're all like that" by the dealer. He vaguely remembers they tried doing "something with the fluid" but that it made no difference. I'm thinking in 2010 they would have been well versed in flushing the P/S of all the Gen 1 cars due to the P/S recall, so it was likely a flush he had done.He has a driveway at home and a large parking lot at work and rarely had to attempt tight parking manoeuvres so it didn't bother him too often. My daughter (who this car is for) has a very tight underground parking spot at home and has to parallel park at her work so she is having a tough time with this issue.I'm sorry this is such a long question but I'm trying to give you as much background information as possible. I'm trying to zone in on the cause of this before taking it to the dealer and having them troubleshoot by replacing everything.I hope you can give me your thought process on this, what is your best guess as to what the problem might be or the best way to troubleshoot the problem.ThanksDean
Expert:  Andrew Martin replied 9 months ago.

Dean, I am not a Mazda certified tech but I've seen your question on here for some time and I'd like to try to help. First off, it does to me sound like the pump is weak. I would tend to agree that a flush is the best place to start. Also, have you had an alignment done? If the steering angles are off it could definitely cause some hard to turn issues.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Andrew,
We've only owned the car for a week but the previous owner had it serviced at a Mazda dealer for all the required service intervals. As I mentioned he said it always felt stiff to him. So do you think it's possible that either the alignment or the pump could have been bad since new?I do plan to get the flush done. But do you think it's likely to be the pump itself (a $135 part at the dealer- cheaper on ebay) or the motor/module ($950 for the entire pump/motor/module)As for the alignment, I will have that checked - although the car tracks straight as an arrow on the road.Is there any test that can be done to determine if the pump is pumping at the right pressure before replacing it?Also someone else mentioned a problem with the steering rack. Do you think that's a possibility? I hope not, I can imagine the cost to replace that!
ThanksPS what's the difference between a mazda mechanic and a Mazda certified tech?
Expert:  Andrew Martin replied 9 months ago.

Its possible that there has been an issue since it was new but not very likely. There really is no way to test the pump unfortunately. I have heard that mazda has had issues with the electric assist pumps like in your vehicle so I'm definitely leaning that way. It could be an issue with the steering rack but usually when a rack goes bad it starts leaking or making a clunking noise when turning. A certified technician for any brand is someone who has worked at a dealership and been trained at the factory facility. Anyone who works on a specific brand can say that they are a "brand x" mechanic but it doesn't mean that they actually have been trained in the brand.

If my answer has helped you, please help me by rating or accepting my answer. This does not cost you any more, it just allows me to be credited for my work. You can always ask follow up questions after rating or accepting. Thank you.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Andrew, the previous well known P/S problems were with the gen 1 cars (2004 to 2008)
No offence intended but I feel I need the help of an experienced Mazda certified technician, someone who is familiar with troubleshooting with M-MDS
How do I find another expert?
And do you know how I change the wording of my question? This is my first time on the site and I didn't realize that my initial convo with the bot would beome my question.Thanks
Expert:  Andrew Martin replied 9 months ago.
Not sure how you change your question but the electric steering issue is not just for that generation. I'll open this to other experts. Good luck
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I would like another Expert to answer this question.
Thanks