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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R LL Bean Edition
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I had this subtle whinning/howling sound for almost a week now. And observed that the reservoir tank has foaming bubbles and don't see the typical whirlpool flow of the fluid.

And today, I drove it and the howling sound was so loud when wheels are turned left and right most prominently in low speed. It feels stiff in addition to the noise and it feels like the there's no steering fluid flowing in the power steering gearbox hence the loud sound. Got home, parked the car and 30 mins later, I popped the hood, saw the reservoir fluid level is way over hot/full level indicator. And saw a puddle of power steering fluid on the floor dripping from the reservoir side. But it didn't look like the reservoir tank overflow. I think it sipped through the bottom of the reservoir tank.

Is my power steering pump dead? or something in the power steering gearbox? Anyone experienced this before, and what to do next? Thanks in advance!

Please see attached photos:
 

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2012 OB , 2017 Impreza
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3,277 Posts
DONT BLAME THE PUMP!!

Most likely the suction hose from the reservoir to the pump has a leak and is sucking air into the system.... which is consequently frothed by the pump.

There is also Oring where this hose connects to the pump. This is known to leak air too. The cost of replacement Oring is less than $3.

Driving the car with this issue can cause cavitation damage to the pump.

Also, it is not trivial to re-prime the pump once it has lost its prime. (obviously yours has lost its prime) I usually remove the belt and manually turn the pump CLOCKWISE until it re-primes. (after fixing the air-leak and re-filling the system with fluid)
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R LL Bean Edition
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
DONT BLAME THE PUMP!!

Most likely the suction hose from the reservoir to the pump has a leak and is sucking air into the system.... which is consequently frothed by the pump.

There is also Oring where this hose connects to the pump. This is known to leak air too. The cost of replacement Oring is less than $3.

Driving the car with this issue can cause cavitation damage to the pump.

Also, it is not trivial to re-prime the pump once it has lost its prime. (obviously yours has lost its prime) I usually remove the belt and manually turn the pump CLOCKWISE until it re-primes. (after fixing the air-leak and re-filling the system with fluid)
Thanks for your quick response! I will work on the car tomorrow and try to replace the o-ring. I have one lying around which I bought sometime ago. I should have just replaced it back then when I got it. Hopefully, the pump is not damaged or the gearbox.
 

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2008 Outback 2.5
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952 Posts
The Stealer charges about $800 for that repair
Ouch!
A new aftermarket pump costs about $150 and replacing the pump takes an hour if you've never done it before and work slowly. The only tricky part is that the bracket fits perfectly onto the pump so make sure you don't force the parts together. Otherwise it's just a matter of turning wrenches and making sure the hoses don't leak fluid all over the place while changing out the pump.

But I agree, investigate all the cheap parts first. At first I replaced the o-ring which was rock hard and that bought me another 2 years before the interior gaskets went.
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R LL Bean Edition
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
UPDATE:

So I followed the suggestion and tips here and now I'm getting so much foam and it overflows again in a matter of seconds right after turning over, and noise from the pump.

This is with a new:

1. Reservoir tank
2. Hose from reservoir to pump
3. The o-ring
4. After market pump

Please see picture attached:
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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17,618 Posts
you may need to work the wheels back and forth to purge air from the system.

if it doesn't improve, then something you used on that list is bad or incorrect - start with the least expensive and easiest things first I guess?
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R LL Bean Edition
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks 1 Lucky Texan for the input and suggestions. But it was the same symptoms before I made the first batch of replacements. Turning the wheels left & right spews the power steering fluid out of the reservoir. Actually, just a nudge on the wheel spews the fluid already.

So I got all the parts I need yesterday to replace the remaining top power steering parts like new hose clamps, new hoses including the high pressure lines that goes to the rack and pinion. And got the same result.

Now, I think I'm left with the gearbox/rack&pinion. And that's the most expensive one. :(
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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it's physically impossible for the high pressure side of the system to suck air in. I have money I'd bet a rack swap will not help.

were parts replaced in the order listed? pump was last? did the new pump come with an adapter on top? new o-ring?

it could be an issue with the rebuilt pump. or the o-ring was/is the wrong size or was compromised somehow when installed....

while idling and foaming, can you push-pull-twist-press-flex any parts and make a difference in the foaming action?
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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68 Posts
Texan is going to save you a lot of $... I would thoroughly follow through with his advice. The stealer tried to charge me the $800 mentioned earlier.

This happened on a 2013 with about 53K miles on her...

I was looking for a new outback anyway so... just traded it in.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R LL Bean Edition
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Discussion Starter #11
I tried it again yesterday. The remanufactured pump came with an o-ring. I used that and used the the two (the black and the red one) that I bought from the dealer as well. The foaming and overflowing were instant so I have to turn the engine off right away, so I don't have time to try on the push-pull-twist-press-flex any parts. All the hoses and clamps are new.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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17,618 Posts
wow, that's crazy.

OK - 'maybe' you can do this without the engine running. take the belt off and spin the pump by hand. or rig some way to use a drill-driver with a handfull of rubber bands wrapped around the chuck. Put them against the pulley and spin the drill.
 
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