Belt or power steering pump?

Lately (meaning since it’s been cold) my 97 Celica has been making a noise that sounds like a worn or loose belt. It only happens when I first start up and then only when I turn the steering wheel without moving or turn it all the way to the stop. Is this likely my acessory belt or is it the power steering pump giving its first warning of trouble? There are no other noises, like the typical whine that a pump on its way out might give, but I figured it might be a good idea to ask about it anyway. Thanks.

Open the hood, check the power steering fluid level and the tension on the belt. If the belt is original, it’s probably due for replacement. Your description sounds more like a loose/worn belt than a bad PS pump, but check the fluid anyway. Low fluid level will make noise, too, and if the fluid is low it indicates a leak somewhere.

I guess I should have includeed that info too. The fluid level is good and neither of the belts appears to be worn or loose. They have been replaced at regular intervals. I’ve had it less than a year but I have maintenance records that go back to its origin. The last belt change was about a year-and-a-half and 16,000 miles ago. I am buying new belts tomorrow, but like I intimated in the initial post I just wanted to find out others’ opinions as to whether I should start shopping for a pump, too. Thanks.

Why not adjust the belt tension before you try a new belt. If the belts are only 16,000 miles old they might be fine, just a little loose.

If you turn the wheel all the way to the stops, the pump will make noise. This is normal. It’s NOT normal, however, to need a new PS pump on a '97 Toyota, especially if there is no fluid leak.

I think the belt is slightly loose, or is wearing prematurely for some reason. Are the pulleys all lined up correctly?

Don’t know about the alignment of the pulleys. Like I said, the belts don’t look worn - certainly not frayed on either side. Is there an easy way to check the alignment of the pulleys?

As far as the noise, it’s the typical squeal of a belt, not the whine of a pump. I first noticed it when trying to turn the wheel while the car was sitting. I will adjust the tensioner a bit and see if that helps.