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4 Typical Subaru Power Steering Problems (+How to Fix Them)

Subaru power steering problems can be hard to put up with for most drivers. They just ruin the smoothness of your vehicle.

Racecar owners, on the other hand, love deactivating the power steering, and while it makes sense for them, you probably want to turn corners without applying too much pressure.

If you want to track down the problem, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ve gathered the most common power steering issues Subaru owners have reported over the years.

We’ll explain how you can diagnose the issues and fix them on your own.

Most [4] Common Subaru Power Steering Problem

What problem could cause your power steering to stop working correctly?

Here, we’ll explore the most frequent power steering issues as well as a small section on the steps needed to fix them.

1. Noisy Power Steering

Your car can go months working just fine. But when it finally shows signs of something going wrong behind the scenes, that’s when you should start taking matters into your own hands.

One common problem Subaru owners have reported over the years is a constant noise coming from the power steering.

While it is hard to tell what could be the culprit, most of the time, it is caused by a damaged O-ring.

This part of your vehicle has a simple job. It basically seals where the low sideline of your car sits.

When this part goes bad, it’ll pour air into the system. When all that air is flowing inside, it’ll cause the pump to make all that annoying noise.

Subaru drivers have reported that this problem can be spotted right away by turning the steering wheel.

As you move it around, it’ll cause the whining sound.

Don’t worry, though. This is a cheap $5 fix, and you can pull it off on your own.

If you’re down for this job, here are the steps you’re going to need to follow:

  • Pop the hood of your car. There is a cover on top of the power steering and the alternator. You must use a 10mm socket to remove it. Now, you need to loosen the two tensioner bolts using a 12mm socket.
  • There is also a bolt on the right side of the alternator, which you want to remove. Now, you should be able to take off the belt.
  • Here, you must remove the low-side power steering line from the pump. But before you can pull it out, you must use a 10mm socket to remove the bolt.
  • There is also a plug you must disconnect before releasing the low-side power steering line. As soon as you remove it, it’ll release power steering fluid. So, use a rag to stop the fluid.
  • After that, use a flathead screwdriver and remove the damaged O-ring. Next, install the new one and proceed to put everything back on.

2. Subaru Electric Power Steering Problems

Back then, cars used hydraulic power steering, and while it was good enough for that time, it had some significant drawbacks, such as using lots of energy while driving, which leads to low gas mileage.

This has gotten a lot better now with the implementation of electric power steering. Despite that, it still has some problems.

When the power steering fails, you’ll have a hard time driving your vehicle, as moving the steering wheel is not nearly as easy as before.

Determining the root cause of this problem can be somewhat hard.

You could replace the power steering pump several times, and you could still have issues.

So, before spending money, we suggest running a simple test to determine your battery state. Here is how you can do so:

  • If you’ve never replaced the battery, please check the state of it. For instance, the average life for your car battery is about four to six years.
  • You’re going to use a battery tester to run a test on the battery. You could use a multimeter, but if you don’t have that kind of money for it, we suggest going for a battery tester.
  • So, take your battery tester, and hook the leads to the battery. The red one must be connected to the positive side, and the black one should be connected to the negative side.
  • You should now see the voltage displayed on the screen. If you get anything around 12V, that means your battery is still in great shape. However, if it’s below 9.6V, you should replace the battery.
  • Replacing the battery should fix the lack of power on your vehicle.

Replacing the Battery

Want to replace the battery on your own? Down below, you’ll find all the steps for this process:

  • Disconnect the negative side using a 10mm socket, and then disconnect the positive side. Next, remove the bolts holding the battery together. You should now be able to lift it up.
  • After that, get a rag and clean all the terminal ends. You could also use a battery terminal brush to get inside the terminals. With that out the way, go ahead and put the battery right into place.
  • Put all the bolts back in, and make sure to tighten them down. After that, connect the battery.
  • You must connect the positive terminal first. Do not connect the negative side before the positive side.
  • Give the battery a little shake. As you move the battery, it should not slide off. After that, connect the negative terminal.

For a visual experience on this topic, we suggest watching this video:

How to Replace Battery 15-19 Subaru Outback – YouTube

3. Subaru Power Steering Pump Leaking

Any car enthusiast can back this up: it is easy to become hooked on high-performance vehicles.

And it always leads to spending lots of money on modifying your automobile.

One of the most common ways racecar owners put their vehicles to the very limit is donuts in empty parking lots.

While this is fun, it can lead to destroying the power steering.

When doing donuts, you’re going to have the steering wheel at full lock.

Naturally, this will cause the pump to overheat and then heat all the steering fluid.

So, to fix this problem, you’re going to have to get a new power steering pump for your vehicle.

If you want to take on this job, here is how you can do it:

  • Use a 10mm socket and remove the cover. Next, remove the tensioner bolts on both sides using a 12mm socket. The alternator should now drop. When that happens, remove the belt.
  • From there, remove the low-side power steering using a 10mm socket. Use a rag to cover it as the liquid will come out of it. Now disconnect the plug. Next, do the same for the high-side line. Don’t forget to wipe off any liquid you find.
  • Remove the three bolts holding the pump together using a 12mm socket. There’s one underneath the pulley. The other is in the middle of the alternator and the pump. And the last is on the backside of the power steering pump.
  • The last one is hard to remove. You first need to remove the bracket using a 12mm socket. After that, you should have full access to remove the final bolt. Now pull the pump out and then clean the area where it goes.
  • Here, you want to remove the sensor from the old pump using a 17mm wrench. After that, install it on the new one. Next, remove the pump from the bracket using a 14mm socket. From there, remove the 12mm bolts from the pulley. The bracket should now come off.
  • Now install the new bracket into the new pump. Make sure to thread all the bolts. After that, you want to use a 19mm socket to remove the bolt in the middle of the pulley. Next, use a 10mm socket and remove the small bracket from the old pump.
  • Now, remove the fitting for the high sideline from the old power steering pump using a 22mm wrench.
  • Now install the bracket, the small one, the pulley, and the fitting for the high sideline. Now we have everything installed; please install the new pump. After that, make sure to put everything back on.

This process takes quite some time, even for some professionals. If you got lost throughout the process, we suggest watching this excellent video:

Subaru WRX Power Steering Pump Replacement – YouTube

4. Broken ECU Subaru Power Steering Repair

Another common problem that makes the engine malfunction is a broken ECU.

The ECM is just the brain of your vehicle; it controls what the engine is doing.

When the engine control unit no longer works, it’ll lower your fuel efficiency, and you’ll notice how much strength you need to apply to move the steering wheel. Sometimes, the engine might not even startup.

Generally speaking, the engine control unit tends to go bad after the unit gets corroded. Moisture is one of the main culprits.

As far as the installation process goes, it’s relatively easy.

However, what makes this job a little bit out of reach for some people is that you have to program the ECU, except for some vehicles.

We suggest getting one from the junkyard and then have the dealer programmed the new one.

If you go through with it, follow these steps to install the new ECM:

  • First and foremost, you want to disconnect the negative terminal. You don’t want to fry the computer.
  • Now, you want to wear mechanic work gloves. With gloves, you don’t have to worry about static electricity ruining the ECU.
  • Hop in the vehicle. The ECU can be found in the foot area. Grab a flathead screwdriver take off the kick panel. After that, remove the passenger side carpet using your screwdriver. You should now have full access to the footwell.
  • Next, remove the four bolts from the cover using a 10mm socket. You must now remove the clips from the hose. From there, you want to unplug all the electrical connections. Squeeze them one by one, and they should come off right away.
  • Now remove the bolts holding the ECU together with the 10mm socket. Next, you want to install the new one, and then tighten the bolts down.
  • Attach the white clip to secure the hose and then snap all the electrical connections back in the holes. Be careful. If you don’t hear a clicking sound, you’re doing something wrong.
  • And finally, you must connect the battery.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)

Is there anything you’d like to know about the power steering? Here are a couple of common questions you might find helpful:

What are the symptoms of a failing power steering pump?

The easiest way to determine whether your power steering pump went bad is by moving the steering wheel.

If you’re having a hard time doing so, you might want to check up on the pump.

What can cause my power steering to stop working?

Here is a small summary of some of the most common causes that can damage your power steering:

  • A damaged O-ring
  • Corrosion
  • A damaged battery
  • High-pressure line leak

Is it safe to drive a car with power steering failure?

You can drive without it, but you’re going to have a hard time going down the road as the steering wheel will not feel as smooth as before.

Conclusion

After going through the most common Subaru power steering problems, we hope you found the culprit.

Some of these issues barely require any effort. However, some of them require a considerable high amount of time and money.

Moreover, if you’re into tuning cars, you’ve probably tried doing donuts before.

And while there is nothing wrong with it, you want to be careful when turning the steering wheel.

If you tilt it for too long, you might cause the pump to heat up, which can damage the power steering pump. So, watch out for that.

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