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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!
My 08' limited 2.5i has about 88k miles on it.
Lately, the power steering has been making some noise in the mornings when I would back out to leave to work and then it was fine........I thought it was just the cold temperatures (20-30 degrees). I had replaced the belt months ago and all has been well up until now.
I tightened the belt just a tad bit today and went in the car to test the wheel and listen for any noise and it was hard to turn and moaning like a mother!
I get out and the pump is making a steady constant screech........I look at the reservoir and it is overflowing with fluid!!!!!
WTF!??!?! :mad:

I am guessing the pump blew up/bad bearing.......must have pushed fluid through but not let it back to the pump hence the reason it came out of the reservoir?????

Does this sound like what happens with a typical total failure of the pump?

Is there anything I need to worry about when I put a new pump on????
I'll drain what old fluid I can and replace with new. Anything else?
 

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I had replaced the belt months ago and all has been well up until now.
Not sure if it applies to the 3rd generation, but there's several posts/threads about the o-rings at the pump connections being disturbed when the cover shield (over the accessory belt and pulleys) is removed and replaced. The connection is disturbed when a bolt is tightened. The result is the pump sucking in air, leading to the fluid becoming aerated, foaming, noise and loss of power steering effect.

Example: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/51226-foaming-power-steering-fluid.html
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #3
Not sure if it applies to the 3rd generation, but there's several posts/threads about the o-rings at the pump connections being disturbed when the cover shield (over the accessory belt and pulleys) is removed and replaced. The connection is disturbed when a bolt is tightened. The result is the pump sucking in air, leading to the fluid becoming aerated, foaming, noise and loss of power steering effect.

Example: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/51226-foaming-power-steering-fluid.html
Thanks for the quick reply plain!
I don't think it affects the 3rd gen as the cover is not attached to the power steering hose connection at all....can't see how it would affect mine.

I am guessing my belt tightening made the bearing go. Not sure.
My reservoir is now filled all the way up to the top almost....hasn't settled down. I though it would be lower since I lost quite a bit of fluid when it all came out.
The noise I heard sounded like grinding........not air coming in to the pump, but now I am wondering.
If the pump was fine and just the suction line was getting air in it, would it fill the reservoir like that?? I am wondering why it isn't settling out.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #4
The other thing was the noise was happening at idle and not turning the wheel. Does that pump, specifically the suction line take up fluid even when the wheel is not moving?
 

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Yes, the pump is moving fluid all the time. In fact, some here have taken the drive belt off, disconnected the return hose from the steering rack to the reservoir (running it into a container) and turned the pump manually while keeping the reservoir filled with fresh fluid. In a short time, all the old fluid is in the container and the whole p.s. system is filled with new ATF.

My understanding is that the pump draws fluid from the reservoir, pumps it into the steering gear valve/rack, and from there the fluid returns to the reservoir from the rack because of the pressure from the pump.

In light of this, it seems to me that if the reservoir overflows, the fluid must be coming up to the reservoir from the steering system, and to do so, it has to be being pushed by fluid being pumped down into the system. If the fluid is foaming on the pressure side, the air would displace fluid, causing the fluid volume to fill the reservoir.

Along those lines, if the pump were to stop moving fluid, it seems far less likely the reservoir would overflow. There wouldn't be anything to push the fluid from the steering system up into the reservoir.

If the fluid in the steering valve and rack is foamed, it probably would take a long time for the air to work its way out, and that would prevent the fluid level in the reservoir from falling back to a more normal level. Also, if the fluid becomes foamed in the pump, the pump can become ineffective.

It's hard to see the fluid in the reservoir from the top (at least that's the case with my 07); but, can you see any sign of foaming/bubbles in the reservoir fluid?

Not saying it can't be a failed pump, but there haven't been many confirmed reports of failures that I can recall, even going back to previous generations. An 08 pump would be low on the probability list. Then again, I might be totally wrong. . . .
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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I had the pulley bearings on my PS go bad at about 150K miles because the previous owner (long story) put a smaller belt on. The 2nd gen 2.5 L H4 needs two belts of the same size for symmetry or balance or something.

I could barely get the smaller belt off, even after releasing the tensioner completely past it's threads. Over time it torqued the pulley and ground the bearings down to pixie dust. Although, it sounds like yours was not too tight for too long. Remove the belt and turn the pulley by hand (with the engine off of course). If you hear a gritty grinding noise then you're closer to the cause of the sound. Someone here may have the connection between the pulley and the overflow - assuming there is one.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting. A small bit of info I left out, but now may be huge is the oring on the top hose of the pump, which I believe is the suction (out of the reservoir to the pump) was replaced last year due to a leak. Well the oring was not oem but one that advance auto matched up pretty good. It lasted this long but I did notice a small leak developing again. I did take it off to check before I tightened up the belt today. Just odd that it could have caused this. But after the explanation by plain, maybe the pump was sucking in air at that point and putting it through the system and back to the reservoir. I am getting an oem oring this week to test. I already ordered a new pump, at least I can return it if the oring fixes everything! Thanks guys!
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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Eureka! I'm betting on the o-ring as well. The pumps rarely fail. Even mine was just the pulley bearings being destroyed by my drunken uncle Joe. You might take a close look at the hose to make sure it is not cracked or split, especially at the end that was removed. You might also consider just using the run of the mill hose clamp on the end. If you do, get stainless steel to avoid rust.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #9
FIXT!!

Found a back up of the replacement o-ring I got last year and put it on............. started the car up and the system started taking fluid from the reservoir with just a little groaning that became quieter as it idled. I added some more ATF and turned the wheel a bit. Definitely lots of air in the pipes and I could see fine bubbles coming into the reservoir but it was getting less noisy as it ran. Finally I took a spin around the block and things kept getting better. Now I know what air sounds like coming into the system!

A freakin o-ring caused all of this........... Amazing!

I'll put the OEM one on when it comes in and be good to go!
 

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Great! The system should expel all the air with some driving - it can be sped up by turning the wheels back and forth through the full turning range.

Let us know how it goes when the genuine part is installed.
 

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1993 Legacy LSi with still functioning Air Suspension, 1999 Outback 2.5L 5MT lab Rat
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I would also be aware that over tightening of the P/S and Alternator belt can flex the front PS Shaft enough for the PS system to draw air in a similar manner to what you experienced with the failed o-ring.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #12
Good to know. How do you check tightness? I have been tightening by feel, twisting the belt 90 degrees between the two pulleys and making sure I can do that without feeling a huge amount of tightness. I know, sort of ghetto, but I don't have a gauge for that.
 

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2011 Outback Limited/2.5L/CVT
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I suctioned the fluid out of the reservoir and replaced with Amsoil 100% synthetic ATF. My PS is noticeably quieter at low temps now. A quart is enough to refill the reservoir about four times, which I figured got most of the old fluid out. (Mobil 1 also makes a synthetic ATF which may be easier to find on the shelf)
 

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'02 Bean H6, AWP & ORP, factory hitch
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When the tensioner pulley assembly is replaced (on a gen 2 H6) does the tightening of all the bolts that hold everything in place affect the performance of the pump? Also, how do you adjust the tension on the belt? I replaced all that stuff but left the tensioner setting as it came from the factory. I noticed that there seemed to be different settings to choose from (stamped from 1-3) but I didn't see a way to change it. Is it possible to change the tension setting? It's already on a spring so I left it as is. No foaming, air bubbles I could see. In the meantime, my ps pump groans and whines like an old man. Ironically, the noise practically vanishes when it's 75° or warmer outside. I'm using Valvoline Max Life Dex/Merc III and recently flushed the system. But I find it very odd that the ambient temp outside would make such a difference. Sorry, I know that this a Gen 3 discussion, but I'm on the verge of spending several hundred dollars to replace the entire system chasing a gremlin.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #15


Got the o-ring from the dealer today. This is it (orange one) next to the one I matched up from Advance Auto.

Definitely a difference in size and clearly made of something other than regular rubber. Probably to resist ATF fluid better. Gonna install tomorrow along with some Mobil 1 ATF synthetic.
 

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08' Outback Limited
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Discussion Starter #16
In the meantime, my ps pump groans and whines like an old man. Ironically, the noise practically vanishes when it's 75° or warmer outside. I'm using Valvoline Max Life Dex/Merc III and recently flushed the system. But I find it very odd that the ambient temp outside would make such a difference. Sorry, I know that this a Gen 3 discussion, but I'm on the verge of spending several hundred dollars to replace the entire system chasing a gremlin.
Does it stop when the car warms up?
 

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Do you have to put ATF fluid in the power steering or can you use regular power steering fluid? Just had my rack replaced and my 08 Outback was humming and shaking bad afterwards. They then told me that my pump was bad due to the year long leak in the rack. Does that sound correct?
 

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I have a 2008 subaru outback - ll bean - and having problems with steering. last week foaming at resorvoir tank, and squeeling when running. I had the auto shop drain and look at. They want $400 to put new pump on. It is not leaking and runs much better now, but tight in the morning. Do you think it is the oring? Is it the reservoir oring or the motor oring? kevin
 

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2008 OB Limited/EJ253/Diamond Grey/117k
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Nothing like getting a reply a year later, but I've been working my P/S whine/issues over the last few days. I do think its important to check in these old threads and chime in with results to keep them valid, rather than starting new threads (there's a lot).


My P/S pump was slightly whiny, with the chirp when wheel were at the locks, but after my belt & pulley service, it got worse, like really bad. I checked belt tension, and adjusted the belt cover, which has been a unanimous suggestion, even by the Subaru parts department. Checked for leaks and decided to do the $1.00 fixes before giving in to the $350 pump replacement. My old fluid was dark and it had overflowed. Prior to it overflowing, it had maintained correct levels. My old O-ring (didn't appear OEM) did not have deterioration, BUT it did have the slight stretched or used look to it. So far, a new OEM O-ring, new (TIGHT) hose clamp and a few drain and fills have made a significant difference in the noise and steering feel. I think it may take a few drives and drain/fills to finally get the best results, but so far, the simple fixes have shown improvement. I will continue to monitor fluid levels, condition and pump for leaks.
 

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2009 Outback 2.5L, automatic
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2008 Power Steering Pump Bad!

My 2009 Outback POS issue is I have replaced worn belts and siphoned out alot of old fluid and replaced with hi-grade AT fluid. Noise now starts when engine is started and wheel is turned, not at idle until a bit of warm-up, then wheel is stiff and squealing occurs both directions until a few seconds later, then all is quiet a few seconds, then loud squealing while underway, then a few seconds silence, then more squealing, then all quiet the duration of the trip with smooth steering. Is it the pump?
 
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