Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Pasadena, MD
Car: Little Red, 2000 Outback H4 "Limited" - 2008 LL Bean 3.0R
Feedback Score: 4 reviews
So much for the typical symptoms. More questions:
1. Are there any bubbles or whirling fluid in the brake fluid reservoir when the engine is running?
2. When you heard the squeal with the wheel turned hard, was it cold outside? Was the car cold?
3. Was the car moving (even slightly) when you had difficulty turning the wheel - did you turn the wheel before rolling backwards?
4. Silly question, are the tires inflated properly and evenly?
5. Have you topped it off with Automatic Transmission Fluid and NOT power steering fluid?
6. Have you inspected the hoses that run to and from the pump? Anything look like it is cracked, bound, or leaking? This could let air into the system without loosing much fluid.
If still "no" to all of the above, there is a test for torque bind, however unlikely. Go to a parking lot and turn the wheel all the way to the right and make a tight circle with little or no gas (coasting). Do the same to the left. Is there strong resistance, a grinding noise, or any "skipping" of the tires? Does the car have an automatic transmission or is it manual?
Does the car make a grinding or groaning noise when turning in either direction at a low speed, like entering a side street? If so, which direction? This could be axle related, but still not as likely.
Lastly, does it always happen when backing up at low speed? Does it only happen in reverse?
I'm still not convinced it is the PS pump because of your limited symptoms. If we decide it is, you'll want to get an OEM Subaru Outback or Legacy pump from a dealer or on-line actual Subaru parts site (Not an auto parts store with OEM replacement or OEM compatible PS pump). Another realistic option for getting a pump is a used one from a parts breaker/auto recyclers (junk yard). Ebay is a good starting point. Be sure to get one with the pulley and still attached to the mounting rack which is nice since the old one can be a bear to get off. Look for one with fewer miles than yours, though 74K is not that much for a PS pump to fail. So, I wouldn't run out and get one just yet.