Sorry this is an old thread, but my gf 2006 2.5i steering was noisy, leaked once on the floor during last winter, and had a couple of very loud but short noise occurence recently. The loud noise did not happen when the steering was full left nor right.
Never noticed hard steering, juste steering noise. We did'nt want to take the chance of losing the power steering completely (for a girl might not be cool hehe)
The guy who sold the car (repaired car, car was hit rear right side) suggested that it might be the power steering pump.
Problem is he replaced but the noise is lower, but still there, maybe at 60% of what it was before. I have an 03 wrx with the original pump at 100k+ miles and never noticed any steering noise (and i'm running larger 235 tires which should put more load on the steering...)
I am interested too to know what might cause steering noise (really a kind of hydraulic pump noise) besides the pump itself. and if you have any idea of what can cause