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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of months ago I bought a 2008 3.0R with 100,000 miles for $11,500 CAD. The exterior and interior look awesome and I'm super happy with it. What an amazing car. But... there are a couple of issues I have been having trouble with, and the mechanic I took the car to wasn't helpful.

1. As I get close to full lock, particularly turning to the left, there is a feeling of increased resistance/muted grind and the car actually slows down. Is this transmission bind? The mechanic said that's how it is for my car since it's AWD, but that's nonsense, as my old 2000 Outback didn't do that at all at 150K miles. I just changed the cv axles so it's not that. I find myself not being able to use more than 70% of the full angle to avoid the grinding, making it harder to park,etc. Weirdly sometimes it seems to work almost perfectly, although I haven't been able to associate it with the car being hot or cold, etc.

2. There's also a fairly loud whine that goes up with rpm. Sounds a bit like a supercharger. If I had a supercharger, maybe I would like that noise, but I don't have one, so I just find it annoying in an otherwise quiet and refined car. It sounded to me like it was coming from the alternator, but the mechanic located the noise and said it's the steering pump. He just said it's complicated to diagnose and not worth looking into it. I changed the very dirty fluid and it didn't help with the noise at all, although the steering does feel much better now.

Any ideas? Much appreciated!


2008 Outback 3.0R Premier
 

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did the mechanic look for anything worn or busted on the steering rack?
@traildogck has done much work to his beloved 2006 Francine racer and its iterations of suspension changes,...and typed a bit here about steering racks and their associated parts .
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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you may just need 1 or 2 o-rings on the hose adapter on top of the steering pump. they get old and let air in. easy/cheap fix. had to do this repair to both my soobs.




are all 4 tires the same brand/model/size?

your car car may have a fuse position in the fuse box underhood where any size spare fuse will force the car into FWD mode. try that and test for the binding in tight turns. (check you owner's manual in the spare tire section)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
you may just need 1 or 2 o-rings on the hose adapter on top of the steering pump. they get old and let air in. easy/cheap fix. had to do this repair to both my soobs.




are all 4 tires the same brand/model/size?

your car car may have a fuse position in the fuse box underhood where any size spare fuse will force the car into FWD mode. try that and test for the binding in tight turns. (check you owner's manual in the spare tire section)
I see movement, which I guess is normal, as there's circulation, but I don't see any bubbling. I could do the O-ring just in case. I had read about it, but my noise sounds more mechanical, like a bad bearing or something along those lines. Initially I thought it was one of two pulleys, but after they were replaced it's still there, and as I said the mechanic was adamant it was the steering pump. Perhaps I should record a video with the sound to post here. Maybe my steering pump is simply noisy and I should just live with it, but at medium rpms it's the primary noise coming from the engine bay, or maybe it just sounds like it because it's a higher pitch than the engine sound.

The tires are all the same. Regarding the FWD fuse, that's an interesting idea! I'll definitely try that.

Thank you for the suggestions!

2008 Outback 3.0R Premier
 

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The tires are all the same. Regarding the FWD fuse, that's an interesting idea! I'll definitely try that.


2008 Outback 3.0R Premier
your car does not have a FWD fuse.

(3.0 2008 = fancy :10: VDC/VTD

and not plain :toothless old automatic AWD).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
your car does not have a FWD fuse.

(3.0 2008 = fancy VDC/VTD and not plain old automatic AWD).
Yep, you're right. I googled the location of the fuse and just found that out.

I'll probably have to take the car to a local Subaru guru who figured out my messed steering in my gen 2 Outback and left it perfect for close to nothing, when other shops insisted it needed a new steering rack. I just hesitate to go there as the guy makes up his own mind about what he wants to do. He will do something you didn't ask or refuse to do something you did ask without necessarily telling you why. He just fixes what he thinks needs fixing. I guess people go back because he's cheap and knowledgeable. He's Chinese with a strong accent so there's also a bit of a communication barrier. Always an adventure to go there.

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something seems odd with your car - like an issue with axles ??? strut bearings? maybe the final drive on a replaced rear diff or trans is mismatched???

I dunno, you either have the perfect storm of 2-3 problems at once or ????

racks have a history of being robust, and, when they go bad, are usually leaking fluid.

power steering pumps DO go bad on occasion, but they also seem very robust and using one from a wreck is your best bet - better than a typical rebuilt unit.

you may need to look in the reservoir while someone turns the steering wheel but, movement is fine - bubbles/foam is bad.

NOTE: many people have had idler and tensioner pulley bearings make noise - thos should be examined as well.
 

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Regarding the power steering pump, yes, it's a good idea to add better clamps on the inlet hose and check/replace the inlet o-ring on the pump, because they like to suck air, especially when it gets cold, and when that happens, the reservoir will overflow with pink foam.

Some of them just seem to whine, though. Mine has whined loudly since I got it, oh, 40k miles ago? I even tore the pump down and replaced all the o-rings and seals that I could. It was nice and clean inside and looked great. Still whines like a supercharger. Anecdotally, whine is not considered a defect with a reman pump, so you could swap it out for a reman only to end up with one that whines just as badly or worse.
 

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1. Has it ever been wrecked?
2. Could they be the same thing - the grind is also the pump which is also whining?

3. Does the whine happen at idle/in neutral, or only while driving?
4. Does the grinding happen only while moving or will it do it while sitting still as well?
5. Is the grinding emanating from left/central right and how long will it last - it does it continuously as long as that 70%+ threshold in turning is present?

If it's doing it while sitting still then i'd suspect something is loose/mis-aligned underneath and it needs a good visual, or it's the rack itself.

If you can track down any previous information you might be able to back track where it was serviced and any records they might have of a diagnosis or suggested repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
something seems odd with your car - like an issue with axles ??? strut bearings? maybe the final drive on a replaced rear diff or trans is mismatched???

I dunno, you either have the perfect storm of 2-3 problems at once or ????

racks have a history of being robust, and, when they go bad, are usually leaking fluid.

power steering pumps DO go bad on occasion, but they also seem very robust and using one from a wreck is your best bet - better than a typical rebuilt unit.

you may need to look in the reservoir while someone turns the steering wheel but, movement is fine - bubbles/foam is bad.

NOTE: many people have had idler and tensioner pulley bearings make noise - thos should be examined as well.
Regarding the whine, good call on the pulleys, as they were contributing to the noise. They were changed and there was no longer a whine at idle, which I used to have before. But I am still dealing with the noise at higher rpms. Very similar kind of noise.

Regarding the steering, I didn't look for bubbles while someone was turning the wheels. I'll try that. And I thought of the strut bearings, as I know I need new struts, but I can see how that would make the steering difficult, but that wouldn't slow the car down, which is the really weird thing... I have new axles. Could the wrong axles do this? I put them in as soon as I got the car.

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Why did you install new axles?
Did you have any of these symptoms before that?

Aftermarket axles are problematic all the time, very high rates of issues.
OEM axles last the life of the vehicle, aftermarkets usually do not.

If it ends up being axle related get a used axle and reboot it. They're $15 - $40. Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Regarding the power steering pump, yes, it's a good idea to add better clamps on the inlet hose and check/replace the inlet o-ring on the pump, because they like to suck air, especially when it gets cold, and when that happens, the reservoir will overflow with pink foam.

Some of them just seem to whine, though. Mine has whined loudly since I got it, oh, 40k miles ago? I even tore the pump down and replaced all the o-rings and seals that I could. It was nice and clean inside and looked great. Still whines like a supercharger. Anecdotally, whine is not considered a defect with a reman pump, so you could swap it out for a reman only to end up with one that whines just as badly or worse.
It's good to know that. The noise bothers me in part because I feel something will eventually fail. But if it won't, it's just a noise. That seemed to be the view of the mechanic. Some pumps are loud, so live with it.

Maybe some bearings inside the pump make noise but never overheat bad enough to fail... I made a video but it's too large to upload. I'll have to try shooting a short one.

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It's good to know that. The noise bothers me in part because I feel something will eventually fail. But if it won't, it's just a noise. That seemed to be the view of the mechanic. Some pumps are loud, so live with it.

Maybe some bearings inside the pump make noise but never overheat bad enough to fail... I made a video but it's too large to upload. I'll have to try shooting a short one.

2008 Outback 3.0R Premier
lower the resolution before starting to record.

and I like the idea that it might be the tensioner. / pulley / idler situation. (such is the case of many a used EZ30,..

.which is good for the buyer =, sounds bad but is it is easily fixed)
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
1. Has it ever been wrecked?
2. Could they be the same thing - the grind is also the pump which is also whining?

3. Does the whine happen at idle/in neutral, or only while driving?
4. Does the grinding happen only while moving or will it do it while sitting still as well?
5. Is the grinding emanating from left/central right and how long will it last - it does it continuously as long as that 70%+ threshold in turning is present?

If it's doing it while sitting still then i'd suspect something is loose/mis-aligned underneath and it needs a good visual, or it's the rack itself.

If you can track down any previous information you might be able to back track where it was serviced and any records they might have of a diagnosis or suggested repairs.
If I'm not moving, I can steer lock to lock no problem. Yes, the steering pump complains a bit, but that could be the strut bearings, and no car likes to steer while parked. The issue is when I move slowly, e.g. to park. As I am moving, if I turn the wheel close to full lock, mainly to the left, the car then slows down as I hear a muted grind. It seems to come from the driver's corner, from near the wheels. Maybe I should get someone else to listen to it from outside the car to double check. My 2000 Outback didn't do it at all. I don't see how a steering issue would cause the car to slow down, so my guess is it's something else related to axles or diffs. Probably not the new axles as it does this more when I turn left. It's not symmetrical.

Yes, the car has been in an accident. $5000 insurance repair on the report. And the hit was on that driver's side corner. Yep, there could definitely be a connection there. Maybe I'll have a close look with the wheels at full lock to see whether anything looks out of place. I have zero repair history. I bought it because the price was good, drove great, and a frame inspection showed no issues with the frame as they performed an alignment.

Regarding the steering pump whine, it will do it if I put the car in neutral and bring it to anything above 2 or 3000 rpms. Same as while driving.

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Good description.

1. If you hit those normally "bad" steering angles and coast into a parking spot, no throttle at all - does anything change?
2. If you put the car in neutral and drift into a parking spot (same normally noisy conditions) - what happens?
3. Does it sound rotational at all or just clanking type of grinding? If it's rhtymic then i'm doubtful it's the strut mount.
4. If you turn the wheel by hand with the tire jacked up and steering wheel turned to the normal noisy position - will it make the noise or does it feel tight?

I would guess wheel bearings or axle.
You could swap axles and see if the symptoms move from the left to the right.
If you have a mechanics stethoscope - you could try listening for noise while turning it by hand like described in question #4.

Given the accident check the tie rods carefully for any sign of bending or misalignment - I've seen that before (i've rebuilt wrecked and totaled subarus). isn't a big deal, so don't let it intimidate you but may point us somewhere to look.

If you can get a picture - take one with inner and outer tie rod of each side in one shot, two photos, one for each side.
 

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did it do this before the axle swap? did you install the axles? did everything go smoothly?

you seem to be experiencing "torque bind" but, it isn't clear.

if the car were on flat dry pavement, with the wheels turned to full lock, would it smoothly drive in a tight circle or would you feel jerking/bucking in the seat of your pants?

OR, is the car doing something related to the turning of the steering wheel? something felt only in the steering wheel?
 

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From what I've been reading, my guess would be that you got a bad set of after market axles. Best thing to do is find a good set at a wrecking yard and reboot them.
As to the PS pump, I had a 2009 and @ 70kmi the pump was replaced under warranty. I didn't know at the time about the O-Ring problem.
It failed when I replaced the belts. I must have done something to loosen the O-Ring on the top hose. When I started the car, the pump whined like an entitled 3-year-old, and the fluid foamed like crazy, spewing pink oil all over the place from the tank.
I guess the dealer had no clue as well because they just replaced it.
Even with a new pump, I had intermittent problems.
I think the problem is in the pump design itself. I'm so glad that the GEN5 did away with PS pumps altogether.
Not saying electric PS isn't going to have its problems down the road, but it does give me peace of mind knowing that horrid PS pump is gone, LOL!
Well, horrid might be throwing it too far under the bus, but, well, you know...
You know what's really funny? my 2015 3.6 has the bracket for the PS pump, just no pump... LOL!
I wonder if they've run out of old stock yet? Kudos to Subaru for not being wasteful, it just looks funny seeing the open space where the PS pump used to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good description.

1. If you hit those normally "bad" steering angles and coast into a parking spot, no throttle at all - does anything change?
2. If you put the car in neutral and drift into a parking spot (same normally noisy conditions) - what happens?
3. Does it sound rotational at all or just clanking type of grinding? If it's rhtymic then i'm doubtful it's the strut mount.
4. If you turn the wheel by hand with the tire jacked up and steering wheel turned to the normal noisy position - will it make the noise or does it feel tight?

I would guess wheel bearings or axle.
You could swap axles and see if the symptoms move from the left to the right.
If you have a mechanics stethoscope - you could try listening for noise while turning it by hand like described in question #4.

Given the accident check the tie rods carefully for any sign of bending or misalignment - I've seen that before (i've rebuilt wrecked and totaled subarus). isn't a big deal, so don't let it intimidate you but may point us somewhere to look.

If you can get a picture - take one with inner and outer tie rod of each side in one shot, two photos, one for each side.
Set to get to the bottom of this, I drove to a parking lot to try your suggestions. Er, the issue seems to have mostly gone away! The only thing that was done to the car recently that relates to this was that I just changed the power steering fluid. That must have fixed it. So now I can go full lock with just a hint of the grinding I described, and it doesn't always happen. Coasting while turning doesn't make a difference. Just a tiny hint of grinding at time, and I can now always turn lock to lock. Now I can park normally!

This still leaves the question of why the car would slow down as I approached full lock, if it was something related to the power steering. It makes no sense to me. About a month ago, when I took the car to the shop to replace two pulleys, they also fixed a brake line leak. Maybe a line was getting pinched while turning, and the car was braking, and they did something to it? I may never know.

Thank you for all the tips!

2008 Outback 3.0R Premier
 
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