Jerry UltraDork
11/10/17 9:29 a.m.

... and it drove fine all last weekend in Hocking Hills, a little fun on a gravel road, went into Old Man's Cave for a bit, two hour drive home, no issues.

I drove it to work yesterday, the steering feels...notchy?  Like lock to lock it's easy to turn, then firms up, then easy, then...  Drives fine.  No noises.  Nothing else.  Just I can feel something going on, at first I thought it was the cold morning yesterday but going home it was ~50F and still doing it.

What might I be looking at?  Steering pump?  Belt?  Actual steering rack?  I don't expect an exact diagnosis over the 'net but thought it might be common enough to say "oh yeah, that's the issue".

Mndsm MegaDork
11/10/17 9:38 a.m.

Sounds like something is loose in the rack to me, and wiggled between working and not. 

GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/10/17 9:39 a.m.

I've had the same problem from dust getting into bushings in the steering column of my Samurai, but a WRX should have boots protecting all that stuff.

WonkoTheSane Dork
11/10/17 9:49 a.m.

Low PS fluid? I have a leaking rack in the Town & Country.. The reservoir bubbles and the feedback is occasionally notchy/fighty.   So far I've just kept it topped off :) 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
11/10/17 10:07 a.m.

Bent steering rack?

Jerry UltraDork
11/10/17 10:20 a.m.

I'll check the fluid level this weekend, and make sure it actually has a boot.  I didn't do anything over the weekend to bend/break anything and it was fine the 2hr drive home.

fanfoy Dork
11/10/17 11:03 a.m.

I am going to say steering pump. What you are describing reminds me of what happened when mine let go. They get cooked because they sit on top of the engine. But check if you have a leak first. Air trapped in the system can do that too.

There is a procedure somewhere to rebuild the PS pump with updated o-rings. If you do a lot of track days, it might be worth it.

APEowner HalfDork
11/10/17 11:03 a.m.

Start with checking the PS fluid but that sounds like classic steering rack failure.

adam525i New Reader
11/10/17 11:22 a.m.

I had similar issues in my 04 Legacy, I thought at first after some research that the system had sucked in air at a prone to fail O-ring on the power steering pump. I replaced that but the problem was till there. For me it was actually my steering universal joint that joins the column to the rack. It felt like the effort would increase and decrease depending on where the steering wheel was turned, it went from me not noticing anything to time to replace over a few weeks or so.


TGMF Reader
11/10/17 11:28 a.m.

turning effort is firm then easy, then firm then easy, more prevelent in cooler temperatures, especially the first drive of the day? 

Steering shaft U-joint almost always the one under hood. 


WildScotsRacingCampbellCougarSeed Dork
11/10/17 12:16 p.m.

Seen bad strut mount bearings do this, too.

APEowner HalfDork
11/10/17 12:17 p.m.

Well, looking at this thread so far the consensus seems to be that it could be darn near anything.

Jerry UltraDork
11/10/17 12:53 p.m.
APEowner said:

Well, looking at this thread so far the consensus seems to be that it could be darn near anything.

I was going to say the exact same thing until I got to your post. indecision

Patrick MegaDork
11/10/17 1:01 p.m.

Weird i was going to post the same thing.  My 02 just started doing something similar.  At very low speeds it feels catchy.  Every revolution of the steering wheel it's at the same location so i was going to start with shaft u joints.  Fluid is full.  I gather with 240k something is probably worn out and best to fix it now before it gets really cold 

underpowered New Reader
11/11/17 5:47 a.m.

Check power steering belt tension...seen it happen before.

Jerry UberDork
11/11/17 7:53 p.m.

Checked the fluid this afternoon, it was at the MIN level, now at the MAX level.  Probably drive it tomorrow or Monday and see if it improves.  Otherwise I apparently have a laundry list to check.  (188k miles on this chassis)

Knurled. MegaDork
11/11/17 8:06 p.m.

As stated by others, if it gets stiff at 90 or 180 degree intervals, it's a binding U-joint.


You SHOULD be able to see them if you look between the driver's side cylinder head and the firewall.  Betcha at least one of the cups is surrounded by red powder.  That's jeweler's rouge AKA powered iron oxide AKA rust, and it's coming from inside the joint where the needles are.

Jerry UberDork
11/21/17 6:09 p.m.

Minor update, if you call it that.  Dropped it off Friday after work at a local place someone recommended.  It's now Tuesday and no updates.  I called yesterday afternoon & was told simply they hadn't found it yet.  Today I hear nothing.  I think if I call tomorrow and still nothing I'm going to request to just pick it up.

This being a place that if a 2016 STU-L National Champion recommended for work on her STI, I kinda figured they had some skills.

Patrick MegaDork
11/21/17 6:42 p.m.

Mine was perfect in the monsoon Saturday. Felt perfect and smooth.  Drove yesterday morning when it was dry and back to notchy.  

EvanB UltimaDork
11/21/17 8:19 p.m.

Solution: water spray system for the steering shaft.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
11/22/17 7:02 a.m.
Patrick said:

Mine was perfect in the monsoon Saturday. Felt perfect and smooth.  Drove yesterday morning when it was dry and back to notchy.  

Sounds much like the dusty bushing problem I've had with my Samurai. My solution was to flush it out with silicone spray lube.

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