Power Steering - Extremely loud noise - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Power Steering - Extremely loud noise

2001 Outback LL Bean H6 3.0

I have been through most of the power steering related threads here, and I'm still stumped. Here's the rundown on what I've done:

Approx 6 months ago, power steering was whining and reservoir was bubbling/overflowing...replaced pump with salvage pump. Whining improved, but not 100%. Reservoir bubbling mostly subsided.

After a month or two, whining got worse, and eventually power steering went out completely. Mechanic said rack was bad. Replaced rack and pressure hose. Power steering worked again, but faint whine was still there.

Been about 3 months now, and power steering noise has progressively gotten worse, and is now the worst it's ever been. After sitting for several hours, it has more than a whine, it's a loud "groan" and at times a metal on metal rattling sound. After driving for 10 min or so the noise gets a little bit better but is still there. Mechanic now thinks the salvage pump is failing and wants to put in a new pump. Another mechanic says he's not sure. Reservoir is again bubbling and sometimes overflows.

Any ideas???

Thanks!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 12:34 PM
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Here is my recent thread about a similar if not the same problem Power steering pump failing? . I have a 2000 H4 2.5, but I got a lot of responses from folks like you who have the H6 3.0. So pick out what you need from these pages and maybe it will help. See canubaru's post #5 for the best solution.

Last edited by DavidPeab; 09-21-2012 at 12:36 PM. Reason: More specific info
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 12:37 PM
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How does air get into the Power Steering system?

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys....I've looked at both of those threads before, but I thought it was odd that each time the supposed problem was fixed, it did improve for a while, only to continue to get worse. Also, since the pump was replaced once (salvage pump) would it be likely that the o-ring on top of the pump would be bad on both pumps? And why would it improve for a while?

Also, would a leaky o-ring cause such loud groans and metal on metal rattling, rather than the typical whine that you typically hear?

One other thing I forgot to mention, the fluid was flushed and replaced with ATF when they replaced the rack. Since the most recent noises started up, I sucked the fluid out of the reservoir and put in about 2/3 bottle of Lucas power steering fluid hoping that might seal up any leaks. No change.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mr5890 View Post
Thanks guys....I've looked at both of those threads before, but I thought it was odd that each time the supposed problem was fixed, it did improve for a while, only to continue to get worse. Also, since the pump was replaced once (salvage pump) would it be likely that the o-ring on top of the pump would be bad on both pumps? And why would it improve for a while?

Also, would a leaky o-ring cause such loud groans and metal on metal rattling, rather than the typical whine that you typically hear?

One other thing I forgot to mention, the fluid was flushed and replaced with ATF when they replaced the rack. Since the most recent noises started up, I sucked the fluid out of the reservoir and put in about 2/3 bottle of Lucas power steering fluid hoping that might seal up any leaks. No change.

I'd say it would be rare for that o-ring NOT to go bad.

As for what the failure is now in your system. I dunno. If you post your city, maybe someone can suggest a good shop to take a look at it.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Ok...update. I just inspected the O-ring. It appears to be in good shape, however, it doesn't look like what I have seen described on other threads. It is light green, soft and flexible, and it's rounded, not flat like others have described. Also, when placed down in the hole, it fits, but it's not "tight". I don't have to push it in, it basically drops into place. It can very easily be pulled out. Does that sound like it's the right ring?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by mr5890 View Post
Ok...update. I just inspected the O-ring. It appears to be in good shape, however, it doesn't look like what I have seen described on other threads. It is light green, soft and flexible, and it's rounded, not flat like others have described. Also, when placed down in the hole, it fits, but it's not "tight". I don't have to push it in, it basically drops into place. It can very easily be pulled out. Does that sound like it's the right ring?
MIne was black, hard as plastic and 'squared-off. Sounds like someone has at least replaced the ring in yours - perhpas it's too small.(seems like a ring used in A/C systems)

Do you have bubbles in the reservoir? maybe you need new clamps on the hose. Or, try a different o-ring.

(unlikely to cause PS problems directly but, be sure some of the noise isn't from either the tensioner or idler pulley? those bearing go bad a lot.)

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Update #2.....I think I have found the problem! I just happened to notice a slightly greasy spot on the suction hose. I wiped it off, and noticed some hairline cracks. I squeezed it and a tiny bit of fluid came out. I wrapped some electrical tape around the crack, and it immediately reduced the noise level. So clearly I need a new suction hose, and I intend to replace the o-ring too. This should solve my problem.

So, my question now is do I need OEM suction hose, or is there a one size fits all type of hose I can pick up at Autozone? I just did a quick search online and OEM hose is $54 plus shipping.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mr5890 View Post
Update #2.....I think I have found the problem! I just happened to notice a slightly greasy spot on the suction hose. I wiped it off, and noticed some hairline cracks. I squeezed it and a tiny bit of fluid came out. I wrapped some electrical tape around the crack, and it immediately reduced the noise level. So clearly I need a new suction hose, and I intend to replace the o-ring too. This should solve my problem.

So, my question now is do I need OEM suction hose, or is there a one size fits all type of hose I can pick up at Autozone? I just did a quick search online and OEM hose is $54 plus shipping.

I see no reason NAPA or other good parts place wouldn't have a suitable hose. Just tell them what you're using it for. I'd also get some screw clamps.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 05:22 PM
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I picked up my hose at Annapolis Subaru for about $25. Half the cost of the one you saw and no shipping. I am talking about the hose that goes from the bottom of my reservoir to the top of the pump. It is pre-shaped with the specific curves and length needed to match either end. Of course, you may be talking about another hose, since I am driving an H4. My point is it can't hurt to check with a dealer for some parts, if you have one locally.
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