2003 Accord - Loud whining noise on cold mornings, seems steering related

I have a 2003 Honda Accord. It makes a whining noise when I start up the car on cold mornings. Till the car warms up, steering is hard and the sound is more pronounced when steering. The colder it is, the louder the noise, and the harder it is to steer. I flushed the power steering fluid, and replaced it with “coastal honda” PS fluid, but this did not help. Please help! Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

Also, what advise do you have on using/not using honda PS fluid? I have used non-honda fluid in the past.

It sounds to me (no pun intended) like your power steering pump may be going to the great junkyard in the sky very soon. However, there are other possibilities also, including a worn-out steering rack.

I would suggest that you find a competent independent mechanic (that means NOT going to Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, or the local tire store), drop the car off the night before, and allow the mechanic to listen to the noise in the morning when it is cold.

Oh–by the way–what is “coastal honda PS fluid”?
Does Honda now make special PS fluid for those who live on the coast?
How about the folks in mountainous areas or in the Great Plains? Are there special fluids for them also?


Have you checked the power steering drive belt? A worn belt will make a squealing noise when the steering wheel is moved. And it will require more effort.

I would go with the belt too.

If the noise is indeed a squeal, then I agree that it is more likely to be the serpentine belt. However, if the noise is a whine, then I feel more comfortable with my original thoughts. The problem with long-distance diagnosis is that different people may describe the same noise in different ways.

In any event, I am still intrigued by the concept of different types of PS fluid for different geographic locations.

Coastal is a brand sold in many part store chains.

Many thanks for your speedy response. I’ll plan to drop it off at my regular mechanic’s, so he can do his diagnosis as you suggested. He had the timing belt, water pump changed a few months back. Waterboy is right - coastal is just a brand name, not sure if there’s a “Great Plains” brand:-).


If it’s the PS pump (my greatest fear), are there any risks if I continue to drive it? Honda insists that you use Honda PS fluid, any thoughts on this? Thanks again.

The sound is the same sound you hear from a car that’s low on PS fluid, I think it’s more of a whine. I’ve had a leak in the past, and that’s the same sound I had then. Changing a hose took care of that and I’ve not had the leak since then.

“I have used non-honda fluid in the past.”

That’s probably the root of your problem.
Always use “genuine” Honda PS fluid.