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Old 04-18-2011, 08:50 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 181399
Join Date: Jun 2008
05 STi

Default Power steering: Intermittent stiffness

Ok, so on my 05 STi. Power steering pump was leaking.
I replaced the orings in the pump as well as the clamps in the system(except the two by the turbo).

I bled the system for like 45 mins.(I used fresh fluid of course) Back and forth slowly with the car off and(car on stands). Fluid level seems fine. Zero bubbles in the reservoir.

Yet the system is still not operating properly. At time it seems fine. But then it bogs down at other times.It will actually lock up and resist me doing a full turn to lock(while the car is on and stationary). Not always though. There are times it works just fine.

Its very strange. The steering overall feels a little heavier than before. I dont have any idea whats up.


1. new pump orings. No leaks
2. new clamps(Except two though id ont think they are causing an issue because..)
3. no air bubbles in the reservoir at all.
4. No shudder in the wheel either.
5. Occasionally gets tough/really heavy/even resists
6. belt is tight and is only a few months old.

As I said no shudder, and the pump isnt making huge amts of noise either. Sounds like normal faint operating noise to me.

Any ideas? This power steering is a huge pita.

When I did the clamps on the bottom of the rack I obviously drained fluid from there. Some kind of airlock in the steering rack itself?Possible?

Is there a bleed valve on the rack?

Yes I realize I have a lot of questions but some of them are more rhetorical/me thinking out loud. Just trying to best describe whats up/what ive done in order to see if you guys have any ideas.

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Old 04-19-2011, 01:31 AM   #2
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Member#: 86938
Join Date: May 2005
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Mn
2003 Impreza Wrx


Steering rack and pinion? Steering rack bushing? When was the last time they were checked or replaced?
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:51 AM   #3
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Member#: 181399
Join Date: Jun 2008
05 STi


the car has about 40k miles on it. Neither have been replaced at this point.
I just find it odd that something else would go out. The steering was perfectly fine on Friday(even with the leaking pump).
Its not until I drained the system while doing the rebuild...and bled has their been any issues.

Im thinking err hoping its just some air being a pain in the butt. I may try a vacuum bleed to see if I can draw it out. Because the manual methods are producing no air at this point. like i mentioned i literally did it a lot. 10 mins. then let it sit. then 45 min straight.

Last edited by cracky; 04-19-2011 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:08 PM   #4
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Member#: 171293
Join Date: Feb 2008
Chapter/Region: South East
Location: Miami, FL
'05 WRX Hybrid
EJ257 w/Blouch 18G 8cm^2


Just throwing this against the wall but....

Did you use the correct fluid?

You need Dextron III or IV. Regular power steering fluid will cause issues and eventually pump failure.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:14 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2008
05 STi


Hey, thanks for the help! No one else seems to be chiming in here.

I used Mobil 1 synthetic ATF. Its compatible and Ive read of others using it with no issues. (though I dont believe you are correct in saying power steering fluid will cause failures. atf and power steering fluid are both hydraulic fluid. atf has additives for transmissions that dont apply to ps system. my guess its used to save money/1 less fluid they have to buy at the factory+ the red helps if there is a leak, unless someone else wants to chime in with some good info suggesting otherwise)...
though as said, I used atf.

I just did a vac bleed this evening....no change at all. Im left here scratching my head. The rack was perfectly fine so its hard for me to believe it just decided to go(though weirder things have happened).
I checked the bushings and they look fine to me.

Maybe the pump itself isnt outputting what it should be even though I fixed the leaky seal.

Is there a filter in the reservoir?
I know other cars have it. I didnt check when I was putting it all back together.

Last edited by cracky; 04-19-2011 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:04 AM   #6
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Member#: 277567
Join Date: Mar 2011
Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: MD
99 2.5 RSti
06 LGT S2


usually if the pump is leaking it is better to replace it than to just reseal it, a remaned pump is not terribly expensive and you know you are getting quality. if that seal was leaking fluid out there is no telling what could have gotten into the pump i mean anything is possible, if some dirt or dust got in and contaminated the pump it could be giving you trouble. just my .02
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:58 AM   #7
White GDA
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Member#: 128905
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Trinidad and Tobago, W.I.
2005 Impreza WRX


Bump for an old(er) thread.

Similar problems experienced here as well. Did the same as you, and as far as I can tell, the pump is no longer pulling air. However, the steering still feels somewhat harder than normal. But only at rpms near to/just under 1k rpm (like on idle).

To the OP - what did you end up doing?
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:33 PM   #8
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Member#: 261958
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Trinidad
2006 Forester CS


Oooh this outlines my problems exactly on my forester cross sport. Any ideas because I have no leaks, new seals and a stiff wheel. I am able to turn all the way to right without problems but to the right is a task, it reaches a point that I need to use excessive force to get it to move. PS fluids slushes around the reservoir and no bubbles, system was bled thoroughly on stand and then started and then lowered and once lowered it was a nightmare to turn again. Drained it via both hardlines on the rack and flushed it properly.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:54 AM   #9
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Join Date: Jan 2015

I realise this is a very old thread, but since I am a newcomer to the nasioc (also a new Impreza owner as of Tuesday), I can't post a new thread just yet.

My recently acquired '04 Impreza has symptoms similar to what is described: The power steering acts up intermittently, to say that it will be perfectly fine for a number of turns and then gets very heavy for others (to the point that it almost feels like the system is countering the steer.) Very low speed turns seem to be consistently fine, city driving is where it seems to manifest most. Highway driving seems a non-issue (but even manual steer would be fine at these speeds, speaking from experience with other cars.) I don't hear any noises/whine to hint at the pump being the culprit.

There is plenty of fluid in the reservoir and I caught on another forum (uk.subaruownersclub.com) that an owner had to replace the rack for similar behaviours. I also caught that these have speed-sensitive steering and know, for example, the sensor for the same on an older GM truck is prone to failure.

I note there are lots of postings about pumps, belts, etc but very little about any steering sensor or this particular feature. I largely do my own wrenching and don't mind ponying up for a rack if that's likely the cause of it, but I don't want to start throwing part$$$ at the problem in hopes of it clearing.

Can anyone speak to common issues wrt to steering? Are racks commonly replaced, and/or pumps? Anyone have knowledge of a steering sensor for possible troubleshooting?

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Old 03-03-2015, 12:30 PM   #10
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Member#: 410517
Join Date: Jan 2015

I thought I would offer this up, as one or both of the actions I took resolved the issue.

I'd put the front end up on stilts, and turned the steering wheel back and forth. It would turn fairly smoothly, yet drag at a fairly consistent point (say, 180 degrees -- I can't remember exactly what it was.)

I looked at the steering linkage and noticed the universal joint between the rack and the column. The previous owner had regular rust sprays done on the Impreza, and it looked like the stuff got everywhere. It was conceivable that the spray was causing the joint to bind or that it was simply stiff with age. I unloaded half-a-can of Liquid Wrench on it, and proceeded to the second part of my plan:

I flushed the power steering fluid, although, I have to confess: This could have gone a lot smoother and turned into a comedy of errors. I used the return line method described on YouTube, but I was alone and thought I might just be able to refill the reservoir with the engine running. Mistake!

As it turns out, the PS pump has a fairly high flow rate and the reservoir had already emptied by the time I ran around to the front of the car. I had a jug of ATF ready (Dex-II, I might add) and kept a steady flow into the funnel. I probably put two-maybe three litres through it, before I ran around to shut the car off (looking full foolish and panicked while I ran.) I re-installed the return line and refilled the reservoir. On starting the car again, I quickly re-checked the reservoir and it was mostly full. I put the cap back on, and with the wheels still in the air, I steered fully left and then right several times. I rechecked the reservoir and maybe put a few extra drops in (I was surprised it hadn't dropped much more.)

At the end of it, despite having a foolhardy approach to flushing the system, my steering was perfectly smooth and has worked the same way since. Having learned the lesson, I would highly recommend doing it exactly the way the YouTube video describes it. Cheers!
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:55 PM   #11
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Member#: 29292
Join Date: Nov 2002
Chapter/Region: SCIC
Location: Orange County CA
2004 WRX wagon


sounds like your pump is going to me. are there certain times that it does it more than others? I put a remanufactured pump in mine and the first one was bad and did that. So yeah just because your pump aint leaking dont think its not bad
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Old 03-04-2015, 01:02 AM   #12
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Member#: 385446
Join Date: Mar 2014
Chapter/Region: BAIC
Location: Grass Valley
2004 WRX


I had this issue with the last honda pump I rebuilt. I didn't find the exact issue, but I replaced the pump and the issue went away. They are nearly identical style pumps to our subarus. Oddly enough, rebuilt mine the same way and it's been ok.
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:46 PM   #13
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Member#: 413473
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Carolina
08 OBS


Take a look at your serp belt. Mine was loose and that was why at certain times (out doors temp) it was acting up. Also check that it's tight.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:25 PM   #14
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Member#: 146760
Join Date: Apr 2007
Chapter/Region: RMIC
Location: Colorado
2004 WRX Wagon


Recently rebuilt my power steering pump. Was leaking out of several places so I did all the Orings, shaft seal, and bearing. Did the bleed process lock-to-lock 30 times or something, was working very well most of the time. Occasionally, especially when it was cold, I would get stiff steering, and an occasional jerk or judder in the steering wheel, typically at low speed moving around a parking spot area. Thought it was still working air out, but the belt would squeal slightly when it would act up.

Turned out it was a loose belt. Tightened it slightly and now all's good.
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Old 03-09-2015, 12:10 AM   #15
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Did you sort this?
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