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I have a 2009 Honda Odyssey EXL that was purchased used less than a year ago. A few months after having the car the power steering started whining when it was cold in the morning but after a few minutes would stop. That went on for about a month and then it started whining at all times. I read forum posts about this problem and so then tried the easiest thing. I replaced the inlet and outlet hose o-rings with the updated versions but it made no difference. I then replaced the pump, inlet hose (with new screw type clamps), and reservoir. Still sounds just the same. No fluid loss at all, but bubbles in the reservoir. I have changed the fluid out until it was fairly clean but of course the air getting sucked into the system makes it dirty again. I have no idea where the problem is. My assumption is that if air is getting into the system it must be a leak in a low pressure area of the system. Am I right about this? Where should I look? Where does the low pressure area begin and end on this system? Could the leak be in the high pressure area?

Thank you,
Adam
 

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Spray soapy water locally while observing the whining. I would start spraying at the inlet to the pump then behind the pulley where the bearing and it's seal lives and so on. You can have a pinhole in the inlet hose
 

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Where does the low pressure area begin and end on this system?
You have already replaced all of it - reservoir, inlet hose, part of the pump, and the fluid itself. Was the new inlet o-ring OEM? What procedure did you use the bleed the system?

Could the leak be in the high pressure area?
A leak on the pressure side would not allow air into the system, just fluid to leak out.

Dave
 
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Discussion Starter #4
I am trying the soapy water thing right now but not seeing anything.

The pump, inlet flange, o-rings for both inlet and outlet from pump, the reservoir to inlet flange hose, and the reservoir itself have all been replaced. Also new hose clamps that screw to tighten. The o-ring was OEM purchased at Honda dealer. The pump, reservoir, inlet flange and hose are all aftermarket.

To purge air I left cap off reservoir and idled engine turning lock to lock and holding at lock for 30 seconds. Fluid level is good and fluid looks fairly clean right now.

Where does the pressure side end? Is it at the rack where the return line connects, or further towards the reservoir?
 

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I have the same issue. I've only replaced the o-rings so far.

If it's sucking air in, would spraying soapy water be a bad idea? Would the system suck in the water?
 

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I have used Lucas Power Steering fluid for my old Toyota and it worked. That was 10 years ago. Make sure it's compatible with Honda's fluids as they are particular about which fluids to use.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

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For Honda its better to stick with OEM Honda fluid. There is also Prestone for Honda (make sure to get bottles that are labeled for Honda, I think it was Honda, Acura). Price diff is like $2 per bottle. Toyota takes normal ATF (most use mobile 1/valvoline maxlife), so if Lucas fit that profile then great.
 

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Actually the genuine Honda PS fluid is cheaper than most aftermarket brands. Check out prices on Bernardiparts.com, for example. Of course you have to factor in shipping.
 

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If it's sucking air in, would spraying soapy water be a bad idea? Would the system suck in the water?
Yes, I would think so too, although the amount would be tiny.

Also, it wouldn't bubble out if there was an air leak, giving a false negative diagnosis.

Dave
 
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To purge air I left cap off reservoir and idled engine turning lock to lock and holding at lock for 30 seconds.
The shop manual adds the following:
  • Engine at fast idle
  • Repeat "several times"
Where does the pressure side end? Is it at the rack where the return line connects, or further towards the reservoir?
High pressure ends at the rack, primarily at the valve body, secondarily at the rack piston.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The shop manual adds the following:
  • Engine at fast idle
  • Repeat "several times"
High pressure ends at the rack, primarily at the valve body, secondarily at the rack piston.

Dave
So the vacuum leak could be between the rack and the reservoir - in the return section?

I also recently saw flakes of copper metal in the screen at the bottom of the reservoir. Could I have gotten a bad pump? It is a cheap one from Amazon... There are not ALOT of bubbles in the reservoir, just a few at all times. I see the return is spitting out a good amount of fluid, but there is no frothing. Could the problem be cavitation from a bad pump instead of air getting into the system also?

BTW thank you for all your help so far.
Adam
 

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The soapy water thing is to locate the place where the air gets in. After the repair change the fluid. I did locate this way that my PS belt was overtightened and the pump was sucking air through the bearing seal at the pulley side. I have loosened the belt and the whining stopped. This method should work when there are no big bubbles in the reservoir otherwise the pump will suck theese bubbles again and you are not be able to hear the difference in PS whine. throughHonda PS fluid has very good antifoam agents in.
BTW such a small amount of water in the system should vaporize through the reservoir and do no harm to this system (corrosion) if the fluid is hot enough (the vehicle must be driven right after the repair).
 

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So the vacuum leak could be between the rack and the reservoir - in the return section?
Not really. The fluid is under residual pressure between the rack and the reservoir so to push the fluid back into the reservoir.

Could the problem be cavitation from a bad pump instead of air getting into the system also?
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, but one thing doesn't fit: the whining noise didn't change when you replaced the old pump. Unless both pumps have a similar defect?

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Not really. The fluid is under residual pressure between the rack and the reservoir so to push the fluid back into the reservoir.


Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, but one thing doesn't fit: the whining noise didn't change when you replaced the old pump. Unless both pumps have a similar defect?

Dave

You’re right. There was no change what so ever when the new parts were put in. I do remember it being exceptionally hard to compress the hydraulic tensioner for the serpentine belt. I thought I was going to break it. Had a 22” breaker bar with a 19mm socket on it. Had to put my feet on the wall behind me. I couldn’t even get the belt over the pulley. I had to put the pulley through the belt then slip it onto the shaft while pushing with all my might. Is that normal? Could Vivankata’s suggestion be correct about too much tension on the belt?

I have been spraying soapy water everywhere and I see absolutely nothing...

I think there must be a positive pressure in the return line - you’re right. Otherwise with the cap off and engine running there would be no stream like I see. I guess that means it can’t be in that part of the system...

Also this is a bit off topic but why a hydraulic tensioner for a serpentine belt anyway? What’s wrong with the spring loaded variety that I am familiar with?

I am totally stumped. I fear that if I take it to the dealership they will just throw parts at it.

Adam
 

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Hydraulic tensioner provides damping/vibration reduction when, for example, the AC compressor kicks in. It will increase the life of all your accessories. A spring will not reduce vibration.

Regarding air in your system, try jacking up the front of the vehicle, and then doing your bleed procedure.

Marvin, the commie/socialist, Stockman
 

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Hydraulic tensioner provides damping/vibration reduction when, for example, the AC compressor kicks in. It will increase the life of all your accessories. A spring will not reduce vibration.

Regarding air in your system, try jacking up the front of the vehicle, and then doing your bleed procedure.

Marvin, the commie/socialist, Stockman
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just to let everyone know what is happening. I bought a mechanics stethoscope from Harbor Freight and tried probing the area. Realized that the sound is no louder in the power steering pump than it is on the opposite side of the engine. The alternator appears to be the source...

Sorry for the wild goose chase. I guess its not so bad. The steering used to get hard at low RPMs and now it doesn’t. I only spent about $120 replacing all of it.

So now it looks like I’ll be pulling the alternator come Wednesday. Will let everyone know how it turns out.

Thank you,
Adam
 

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Adam: You may want to consider not using any screw-tight style hose clamps and only use the OEM Honda ones, as the screw-tight don't provide even pressure. See this video by Pat Goss of MotorWeek:
 

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Just to let everyone know what is happening. I bought a mechanics stethoscope from Harbor Freight and tried probing the area. Realized that the sound is no louder in the power steering pump than it is on the opposite side of the engine. The alternator appears to be the source...

Sorry for the wild goose chase. I guess its not so bad. The steering used to get hard at low RPMs and now it doesn’t. I only spent about $120 replacing all of it.

So now it looks like I’ll be pulling the alternator come Wednesday. Will let everyone know how it turns out.

Thank you,
Adam
If you replace the alternator, be sure to use Denso (new or rebuilt) - and read up on the install. It is a very tight fit to get it in/out. Never use anything other than Denso or Honda for the alt.
 
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