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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
03 H6 OBW 65K miles

I've been fighting and intermittent noise that my wife first heard, but yesterday was quite bad and is certainly the PS pump. I had already 'preventatively' replaced the bearings in the serp belt idler/tensioner pulleys.

Then, I read about that fitting at the pump on the end of the hose (suction?) from the tank. So, I took it off and used a heavy grease (dielectric grease) on the o-ring and a little on the mating surfaces. Did some wheels up, engine off/engine on, lock to lock turns. Seems like things got a little better/smoother. Then, after a day or 2, the wife says the noise is back. And it was, really loud. It also seemed there was a lot of fluid under the tank. I thought maybe the suction hose or maybe the tank itself was cracked or ???? Now I think, 'maybe', the fluid just got bubbled out past those baffles in the lid.

So, this morning I went and got some fluid and some real screw clamps. I was also prepared to try some JB weld if i found a crack - or head to the dealership for a new tank. I have reattached the hoses with screw clamps(the one on the return hose seems especially wimpy). 2 at the tank and one at the top of the pump. I have been trying to purge air from the system but, Things don't seem to be progressing well.

I'm posting to see if anyone thinks air can get sucked in underneath the car somewhere. Or sucked in through the PS Pump's shaft? I'd expect everything that leaves the pump would be under pressure and I might find drops of fluid. But I don't. Also, is it safe to just get an o-ring for the fitting on top of the pump from Ace hardware or similar? Will it be metric and the correct durometer/material for this purpose?

I'm gonna keep cycling the wheels back and forth(up on a jack). I've read it can be trickiy to get all the air out. When i look inside the tank, there is quite a bit of 'motion' and only a few bubbles - perhaps from the fluid splashing? But, when I stop the engine and move the wheels back and forth, there's a lot of 'foam' in the tank - almost to the top. So, I wait, and then I try again. The only good thing is that the noise is MUCH quieter now than when I started.

We're coming up on a holiday and if I need a new PS pump or to take this to a real mechanic, I may need to make that decision soon.
 

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You can damage any power steering system by working the wheel back and forth with the car sitting still they are designed to assist with turning the wheels when the car is moving. The loads put on the steering system when the car is stationary are very high and the pump/system can be damaged if you proceed to run the power steering back and forth over a long period of time causing all sorts of issues.

The power steering systems are designed to self burp thats why the cap and the small resevior is at the highest point in the system. If its getting noisy have the fluid flushed with proper spec fluid. Noisy pumps are caused by many things but the most common is old fluid and improper fluid levels - and excessive power steering abuse example would be working the wheel back and forth without the car rolling or sitting still while waiting to make a turn and holding pressure on the wheel causing the power steering system to sit there and work while the car is not moving etc.

Also turning your wheels when not moving creates flat spots on your tires too and puts added wear on the steering components. Prior to power steering these issues were a non issue simply because it was obvious to the driver that trying to turn the wheel while not moving was really hard and really not a good idea.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You can damage any power steering system by working the wheel back and forth with the car sitting still they are designed to assist with turning the wheels when the car is moving. The loads put on the steering system when the car is stationary are very high and the pump/system can be damaged if you proceed to run the power steering back and forth over a long period of time causing all sorts of issues.

The power steering systems are designed to self burp thats why the cap and the small resevior is at the highest point in the system. If its getting noisy have the fluid flushed with proper spec fluid. Noisy pumps are caused by many things but the most common is old fluid and improper fluid levels - and excessive power steering abuse example would be working the wheel back and forth without the car rolling or sitting still while waiting to make a turn and holding pressure on the wheel causing the power steering system to sit there and work while the car is not moving etc.

Also turning your wheels when not moving creates flat spots on your tires too and puts added wear on the steering components. Prior to power steering these issues were a non issue simply because it was obvious to the driver that trying to turn the wheel while not moving was really hard and really not a good idea.

I have the front up on a jack so, the tires have no resistance on them. The Subaru document I have outlines the engine off, engine on, routine I've been using, but wheels 'unloaded' as you mentioned.



OK, the bad news; it was NOT residual air. I waited 30 minutes or so, looked in the tank - looks OK. Engine off, a few L2L turns, look again - no bubbles or foam. Run the engine, a few L2L turns, turn engine off, a few L2L turns - huge amounts of foam. Still sucking in air.

Good news; Go to Ace hardware with old, flat, almost square cross-section o-ring from suction housing on top of pump. THEY have one! (be sure to mention it's a METRIC application) I have no idea if it's the proper material for automotive PS systems. It's much more flexible that the old one - which almost felt as hard as plastic. $0.80

Bad news; over-torqued bolt replacing housing onto pump. I decided to test the system anyway.

Good news; MUCH less motion/splashing/bubbles in reservoir, noticeably quieter pump

Bad news; couldn't think of a good way to secure the housing with wire or bands so, decided i have to do something about the retaining bolt.

Good news; It came out even though the head was half-torn off!.

Bad news; another trip to Ace hardware.

Good news; they have a stainless bolt that works! And, evidently, the threads were still good so, everything went back together.


I'm still gonna do a few more 'purge' routines, but things seem much better now. And putting some fresh fluid in (valvoline - I guess that's OK?) is probably good as the old stuff is quite dark. I'll probably try to do a complete fluid change in April at regular maintenance time.
 

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Sounds like you got most of your issue solved. The rest of it [foaming] is most likely "old fluid" related.

Hydraulic fluids contain anti foaming agents that dissipate with age so, you get foam.

PS systems are not closed systems so, are susceptible to absorbing moisture [hygroscopic]. Generally speaking the "air" you see as bubbles is boiling moisture [same thing happens with brake fluid].

Change out the fluid and you should be good.

BTW, You can change out the fluid over the course of a few days rather than jacking the car up and doing it all at once.

I usually use a cheap turkey baster and suck as much fluid out of the res as possible. Refill with clean fluid and drive the next day ... do that 3-4 times and it's pretty much all clean fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sounds like you got most of your issue solved. The rest of it [foaming] is most likely "old fluid" related.

Hydraulic fluids contain anti foaming agents that dissipate with age so, you get foam.

PS systems are not closed systems so, are susceptible to absorbing moisture [hygroscopic]. Generally speaking the "air" you see as bubbles is boiling moisture [same thing happens with brake fluid].

Change out the fluid and you should be good.

BTW, You can change out the fluid over the course of a few days rather than jacking the car up and doing it all at once.

I usually use a cheap turkey baster and suck as much fluid out of the res as possible. Refill with clean fluid and drive the next day ... do that 3-4 times and it's pretty much all clean fluid.

ya know, I may just do that until my entire qt. bottle I bought is used, then do a drain/refill in the spring. The old fluid is quite dark. Maybe due to dissolved gas/tiny bubbles - unfiltered air sucked in, etc. Now, tiny bubbles should have an opportunity to purge themselves since it seems the air leak is fixed, but I think the fluid is 9 years old! I don't recall if the dealership ever changed it and I know I haven't.
 

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Count Me In Too!

Well I just swapped out Both front CV assy's and car drives Way smoother now, but like my Texas buddy here, with moving the wheel back and forth by hand on the hub while working on it, I foamed up my PS fluid and it's making some of the same sounds.

I have a vacuum tank for changing oil on my jetski, and I changed fluid once before - think I will also do it again to clear out older remaining fluid. Also gonna check that O ring! Cheers!
 

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Mine became somewhat noisy at about 3 years and only 15k miles - only really noticeable with the windows down but still...

The fluid certainly wasn't nice and clear like fresh so I gave it several flushings till the fluid in the reservoir looked indistinguishable from new and its been fine ever since.
 

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Good news; Go to Ace hardware with old, flat, almost square cross-section o-ring from suction housing on top of pump.
i have an '01 h6 and something is making a whirring noise under the hood. i'm thinking power steering pump since the reservoir was all but empty when i bought it last month.

''suction housing on top of pump'' if go look at my power steering pump, will this be obvious?? i have read this a couple of times and until i pasted it here, i thought i was reading ''hose'' in there some where.

the hose with the banjo bolt is the pressure side going to the rack. the other hose is coming from the reservoir. where is this o ring???
where do these pump usually leak fluid?

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
i have an '01 h6 and something is making a whirring noise under the hood. i'm thinking power steering pump since the reservoir was all but empty when i bought it last month.

''suction housing on top of pump'' if go look at my power steering pump, will this be obvious?? i have read this a couple of times and until i pasted it here, i thought i was reading ''hose'' in there some where.

the hose with the banjo bolt is the pressure side going to the rack. the other hose is coming from the reservoir. where is this o ring???
where do these pump usually leak fluid?

thanks

edited - thanx Glenn


sources of whirring noises folks report can also include the serp belt's idler and tensioner pulleys as well as alternator bearings.

The only reason I had any fluid 'leak' was it was being bubbled/foamed so much, it was coming out of the top of the tank (which isn't really 'sealed') and coating the tank and area on the frame/bracket below.

The suction hose is spring-clipped to a small fitting on top of the pump. That fitting is held down by a 12 mm head bolt. When you lift that away from the pump (don't let PS fluid get on the serp belt) there will be small o-ring on the fitting.


I haven't updated anything here for a while. I should mention that I HAVE now used a turkey baster (had to rig a small hose onto the end) to get much of the old fluid out and put fresh Valvoline MaxLife Dexron in the system. Almost a full quart was 'renewed'. I may do this again in the spring. look at 4, here;

http://opposedforces.com/parts/legacy/us_b12/type_28/steering/oil_pump/illustration_1/
 

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AIR MYSTERY SOLVED! (for me, hope it helps others)

Alright so check this out:

When I swapped both front axle assemblies this weekend to freshen up the CV's throughout (1 was wasted and other had cracked boots), I remember moving the steering rack left/right several times to check the movement of the steering rack, by grabbing the hub.

I distinctly heard fluid bubbling in the steering rack when I did this (bear in mind, car off, wheels off, OB on jackstands so free movement). It seemed odd that I could hear the fluid "squishing" around in the rack.

When I put my car together and drove it, guess what: Groaning, whining, whirring sounds appeared when I turn the wheels. I thought I messed up the pump, and my fluid was filled with tiny bubbles/suds/foam. Thinkning Ineeded a PS pump I read up here first.

Next morning, using a vacuum pump I drew down the reservoir to empty, refilled it with new fluid and gave it a try. No Noise!

Now I thought alright, WTH? So I jacked the car up again, and again by hand moved wheels left/right several times by hand From The Hubs again, and when I put it down and drove the car, the sound was Back!

I replaced the oil in the reservoir yet again (stuff looks real clean now hehe), and there is no noise now.

Can't be sure this will help everyone, but I would wager it's worth considering: A High Mileage steering rack may be able to draw air into the system if you turn the wheels left/right From The Hub with the Engine Off.

Hope it helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Alright so check this out:

When I swapped both front axle assemblies this weekend to freshen up the CV's throughout (1 was wasted and other had cracked boots), I remember moving the steering rack left/right several times to check the movement of the steering rack, by grabbing the hub.

I distinctly heard fluid bubbling in the steering rack when I did this (bear in mind, car off, wheels off, OB on jackstands so free movement). It seemed odd that I could hear the fluid "squishing" around in the rack.

When I put my car together and drove it, guess what: Groaning, whining, whirring sounds appeared when I turn the wheels. I thought I messed up the pump, and my fluid was filled with tiny bubbles/suds/foam. Thinkning Ineeded a PS pump I read up here first.

Next morning, using a vacuum pump I drew down the reservoir to empty, refilled it with new fluid and gave it a try. No Noise!

Now I thought alright, WTH? So I jacked the car up again, and again by hand moved wheels left/right several times by hand From The Hubs again, and when I put it down and drove the car, the sound was Back!

I replaced the oil in the reservoir yet again (stuff looks real clean now hehe), and there is no noise now.

Can't be sure this will help everyone, but I would wager it's worth considering: A High Mileage steering rack may be able to draw air into the system if you turn the wheels left/right From The Hub with the Engine Off.

Hope it helps!


I think it is definitely possible,(there are older references to it, back to 08 from what I've seen) I just don't know how to consider whether it's bad or just temporary or what. There is an air purging routine that involves a 'front-wheels-of-the-ground' lock-to-lock maneuver as part of the procedure.

(dang, I'll look for that document at home)



and there's this stuff;
The Car Doctor: Air stuck in Subaru power steering pump - Boston.com

Why Is The Power Steering Making Noise on My Subaru Outback? - Seattle Subaru Repair
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

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Great thread, it helped a bunch with my 2001 OBW H6. I had the power steering pump noise (heard it before on other vehicles). I replaced the o-ring, still noisy and still bubbles in the fluid tank. I had noticed that the return hose (tank to pump) was hard and cracked. Replaced it with a generic power steering hose from Advance, bled the air per above instructions, no noise or bubbles! Thanks for the help!
 

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i would like to thank 1 Lucky Texan for this thread and fix. i just replaced the o-ring on the top suction hose on my '01 H6 VDC, 157k miles,and now my power steering is quiet.

i got mine from the dealer for $1.46, wholesale, i had to get the oil cooler gasket / o-ring as well. when i put a pick tool on the old o-ring to remove it the thing broke. it had no elasticity left, just a brittle piece of old rubber?. now, no more wife complaining about the noise. yea!!

many thanks to lucky texan, we are lucky to have his help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I was driving my wife's outback this weekend and thought I heard the PS pump.

I suspect my Ace Hardware o-ring may not have lasted very long.

I'll try to look for bubbles in the tank - probably have to get an o-ring from the dealer. part number 34439AE020 I think.

so, Ace hardware part got it going and 'proved the theory'. But didn't last.
 

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This was super easy to do. A small amount of PS fluid spilled out toward the block but I was able to catch it with a towel wrapped around thee hose. The old o-ring was thicker and sqaure-ish compared to the new one.
 

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Bump.

2003 Outback wagon, 2.5L engine, auto trans, 125k miles.

So my problem started with replacing the alternator. Immediately after I finished, I had a wicked moaning in the power steering. I've read up on how re-attaching the belt shroud improperly can pull on the PS motor, allowing air to get sucked into the system. So I've put the shroud on with some wiggle in it. The moaning has improved noticeably, but it's still there. So I thought it must have been the gasket issue described in this post.

But my PS motor is different than the one that's described here. I pulled the bolt pictured below, and there is a metal bracket on either side of the bolt and the hose (I bent the bracket when I put it back together, but the PS sounds the same as it did to begin with, so I don't think I totally screwed it up). I didn't see any rubber gaskets. Here's a photo of it:



I pulled an exploded image of the whole system (http://opposedforces.com/parts/legacy/us_b12/type_23/steering/power_steering_system/).

I'm having a hard time figuring out where air is getting pulled into the system. Any ideas? Could it be in the hose from the reservoir to the pump?

Also, once power steering fluid has been aerated, will the air work itself out over time, or do I need to replace the fluid? I had the fluid replaced right after I replaced the alternator, so the fluid is new if that makes a difference.
 
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