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Mike V.
Mike V., Subaru Technician
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 23493
Experience:  Certified Subaru Technician, factory trained by Subaru.
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Subaru outback: Power Steering..low is not the CV axles

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Power Steering Question about my Subaru outback 2001

Optional Information:
Year : 2001
Make : Subaru
Model : Outback wagon
Engine : 2.5L

Already Tried:
I am having a chattering when I turn to the right or left at low speeds. I know it is not the CV axles. I replaced on already. I also flushed the power steering system and put new fluid in. It runs with ATF. I have also replaced the power steering pump. It started to develop a whine, and never went away completely when fully warmed up. Now, the new pump is whining when cold. The chattering was lessened, but not fixed by replacing the pump. The pump will also make a short-duration whine when turning left (like around a street corner) at about 20 mph. I do not have any leaks anywhere in the system. I have checked the remote reservoir for a pluggage, and there is none. The pump is not starved. I don't see any sort of leakage coming from the rack. I live in ND, and it gets down to -20 F, if that has any bearing on this.
HI there! Does the car have to be in motion for this problem to occur?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

No, not really. In fact, It is the worst when I am turning into a parking spot at low speed. The engine would be idling at 5-700rpm's and a lot of steering action. It will chatter grind when I just spin the wheels while sitting still also. However, the quick whine only occurs when I'm going 20-30 mph. Don't know if these two issues are even related.


One crazy guess that I had was the rack and pinion is failing and sending junk thru the pump, causing it to fail and is what caused the first one to fail. But, Don't know if that's a good guess, because I can't see any junk in the fluid.



Do you feel the chatter in the steering wheel or the entire car? How long has the new pump been in it and is it an automatic or manual transmission? I know it is a lot of questions! Sorry!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

No problem.

The new pump has 1000 miles on it at most. I put it in myself, it a rebuilt model (has a warranty on it) from O-reilly. I feel the chatter in the steering system. (mainly steering wheel) It can also be felt as the frnt. wheels kind of jerk as they turn. Auto trans.

OK. I think it is possible there are a couple of things happening here. I would like to have you try a test and see if there is any improvement. I do feel you may be having a steering issue, but also a possible issue with the transfer clutches in the transmission.
Under the hood there is a small black fuse holder labeled FWD. I can't remember what year they moved it so it may be next to the main fuse box under the hood. If not,it is probably over by the wiper motor. Please place a 10 amp fuse in it and test drive the car. Make the tight turns into a driveway or parking spot and see if there is any change in the sounds and sensations you are getting from the car, then please let me know. We can take it from there.If there is improvement large or small I would like to know. Thanks
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Okay, I know what you are talking about. I will do that and get back to you. I am a college student, I have class soon, but will get back to you later today. Thanks!


Take all the time you need!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I kicked out the rear wheels by putting in the fuse. It did not help the chattering when turning, it only made me lose acceleration on the ice. But the chattering is definitely the same when turning into a drive or parking spot.
OK, thanks for doing the test. This eliminates the transmission so I can focus on the steering. I think you should first,check the belt tension. Make sure it hasn't loosened up and started to slip on the pump. This can happen and will affect it especially at low rpms. I suspect if the problem still exists,the pump may not be supplying enough pressure. I don't suspect a problem with the rack on this,I haven't had to change many. I would start with the belt. Let me know!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The belt is well-tensioned. I've checked that. It's less than an inch of deflection over a foot.
OK. I want to say have the pump warrantied. The whining noise should not be there and it could be an indicator of low pump pressure. Without the proper gages for testing the pump pressure really no way to tell. You could also jack up the front of the car and make sure you can turn the front wheels fairly easy. If you have a binding ball joint or something it could be an issue
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
By "warrantied", do you mean get a new one and replace the one I have in there? I have had my car up on jacks several time to try to trouble shoot this problem. The ball joints all seem fine. The wheels spin nicely, I can't wobble the wheels (to check the ball-joints and tie-rods)and the CV axles are both sound. The mechanics at my local subaru dealer told me that my struts were "weak, but not leaking." They don't give me any double-bounce or anything, so I don't suspect them.
I do mean replace the one you have in it. If the wheels turn left to right without any trouble then I suspect the ball joints are fine. The strut bearing plates could be a factor,but you would feel them bind while turning the wheel. The struts wouldn't be a problem.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hmm. Okay. I can replace the pump again. But you really don't think that it would be a rack and pinion issue? I would be happy to find that is most likely ISN'T, becuase that's a 300-900$ repair, depending on where and who does it. And you don't think that it could be the strut plates? By turning the wheels side to side, one would be able to tell?
I'll try replacing the pump on warranty.
You would feel the wheel binding when you turned it by hand if the strut plates were binding I am sure of that. The whining noise is what makes me suspicious of the pump.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay. I will try that. Thanks for the help. Is that the only thing you suspect?
At this time it really is
Mike V., Subaru Technician
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 23493
Experience: Certified Subaru Technician, factory trained by Subaru.
Mike V. and other Subaru Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay, Thank you!!
You are very welcome and thanks for the accept! Let me know how you make out!

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