We have had a lot of Questions from all over the country on this subject so I thought I would provide some information. This issue is typically found on the 2000 to 2004 Subaru Outback and Subaru Legacy. There will be pictures up next week to help illustrate what is going on.
Here is the usual situation someone replaces the belts, or the timing belt or the alternator and almost instantly the power steering pump starts to make noise and the car can be hard to steer. Well here is what happens. The top bolt for the alternator and power steering fan belt shroud is secured to the power steering return line tube/bracket through a rubber grommet in the top of the shroud. If there isn’t enough slack in the shroud when the top bolt is tightened the shroud will pull onto the tube (towards the drivers side) allowing air into the power steering system thus causing the fluid to become aerated. The other end of this shroud is slotted at the alternator pivot bolt. The rubber grommet is there, to give a little instead of pulling the tube under load. Once the tube is pulled it is necessary to reset it in the power steering pump to make sure it isn’t still being pulled in one direction after this the shroud will need to be installed properly ( with slack). From there the aerated fluid must be replaced with fresh fluid and the problem is solved.
I have received over 100 phone calls from people as far away as Jamaica (you know who you are and thanks for the gift card) so I figured someone should post some help as I have received calls from frustrated Technicians and Drivers a like . I had a post on Allexperts.com, that includes our shops phone number and I would say it has been one or two calls a week.
I am always happy to help out my fellow Technicians who just want to take care of their customers. I also have heard the other end of the spectrum where after the belts were replaced on their Subaru Outback and the noise showed up they have been charged a lot of money to replace parts that did not need to be replaced. Quite a few times a frustrated vehicle owner has sought out help on the Internet and found me.
To the Automotive Professionals out there, help each other first of all and use the Internet to seek out those who no more about the subject than you do. Also while we are all human and do make mistakes and there is always a lot of pressure to be perfect, at least exhaust all of your resources prior to guessing. If some can find the answer to the problem online then we all can.
I have personal experience with this issue. I know Subaru’s so well, and one thing they are not prone for is power steering aeration, with that knowledge, I was able to problem solve my way to the fix. Subaru Owners, if this has or does happen to you. Most likely no one is trying to defraud you; they just haven’t experienced the issue before and are now forced to learn.
Thank you for reading.
Your Independent Subaru Specialist
Here is the fan belt shroud in question.
This is the upper alternator/ power steering belt shroud retaining bolt.
This is the power steering return line bracket going into the pump.
Here is the alternator pivot bolt that must be loosened to put the “slack” back into the shroud.
Follow up to an older Article;
When I originally wrote this article, it was really about the 2000 to 2004 Subaru Legacy and Outback, as we had seen a few cars have pumps, racks, and so on replaced as part of an incorrect diagnoses after the belts were replaced, or the car was serviced in a way that required removal of the belt shrouds. The point of this article was how to readjust the belt shrouds after removal to avoid power steering fluid aeration do to a small air leak at a o-ring. It pertains only to the 2000 to 2004 H4. My goal was to prevent replacement of expensive components that didn’t need to be done.
If you have something other than a 2000 to 2004 Subaru Legacy or Outback with the 4 cylinder 2.5l engine, you have something else going on. This can that can range form a o-ring that no longer seals, to old fluid to a defective pump. There are many possibilities.