Intermittent steering loss

New owner of 2006 mazdaspeed6. One of the best compromise cars I’ve ever driven. Today, after a total drive of about 120 miles, divided in two, at the end of the 2nd leg I lost power steering. Parked at home, checked PS fluid (OK), checked PS pump belt tension (OK), started car again. Turning wheel from lock to lock seems hard but not no-power-steering hard. Engine revs and idles down again with the steering load. I’m hoping it’s the PS pump, since it’s on top. Who knows what, here? thanks jm

Sooooo are we just supposed to guess which part of the steering is failing?

Or are you going to tell us a little more about your car… like the engine type and size, miles on it, how the power steering fluid level is and the smell, any leaks… and your problem?.. heavy steering when sitting still at idle, when revving the engine? Whine when turning? Squeal when turning?

It’s a 2006 mazdaspeed6. Mazdaspeed6 has a 2.3 (2.4?) turbocharged 4 cyl engine, manual transmission, awd computer controlled, 177K miles. Power steering fluid level is ok, power steering belt tension is ok. Car stopped, idling, turning wheel lock to lock, no squeal, no whine, engine idle rises and falls with steering load, but it does not feel like full power steering. Car, when I bought it, had Mitsubishi wheels on it, wrong width, wrong offset, wrong tire size- 225/45-18. Car was very leaden in its steering. I drove it about 60 miles with those wheels on it. I have no info on the prior number of miles put on it with the Mitsubishi wheels. I installed the correct wheel/tire combo, with 215/45-18 tires, and handling and steering improved a lot. I’ve put maybe 200 miles on it since the change.

it could be a bad power steering pressure switch. do you have a check engine light on?

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Power Steering Pressure Switch | YourMechanic Advice

I wonder if the vanes in the power steering pump are starting to stick in the rotor.


Has the power steering fluid ever been replaced?


No check engine light on. 4wd yellow comes on occasionally, goes off with restart. I don’t know if PS fluid has been replaced. Is the pressure switch a replace-it-and-see-if-it-helps thing? I’m new to the car, or the car is new to me. If the vanes in the PS pump are sticking I’d just as well replace the pump. I wouldn’t know how else to test for it. Ditto for the pressure switch. I’m trying to get an idea whether I’m looking at the pump or the rack.

the power steering pressure switch has one electrical connector and you unscrew it . its probably about $30. I have had one go bad and no check engine light went on, but it was leaking fluid. others here have a lot more knowledge than me.

Thank you. It’s worth trying.

That would suggest the power steering pressure switch is sending a signal to the PCM to increase idle speed, it is working.

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Pshaw. There goes my cheap-and-easy.

If the pump is on the way out, the steering effort should be heavy at idle sitting still but reduce if you raise the rpm.

Change the fluid and see if it improves, especially when cold, that may indicate a bad rack.

Or… since this is a performance model, tbe steering effort was tuned to BE higher on purpose and there is nothing you can do about it. If none of the things suggested have any effect, that is likely.

Thanks. I’ll check with higher RPM. It failed I was slowing to a stop to turn in my drive. I thought at first the engine had stalled. It went from “normal” power steering to no power steering at all. I was momentarily surprised, but having owned my share of cheap/crappy/old cars, I wasn’t panicked.

U had a 2002 Chrysler minivan and the stereing rack went bad, I was feeling lazy so * had my mechanic replace it and a year later the symptoms started returning. It got morning sickness, would not work when the mornings got cold until the car warmed up.

I was about to take it back to my mechanic when I noticed that my serpentine belt tensioner was frozen from rust. Yes , I know the tensioner is aluminum, but the bolts are steel. The belt felt tight enough but when it was cold, the extra load made the belt slip because the tensioner could not move. The tensioner bolt broke off in the engine, but that is a story for another day.

Checked the steering at 1500 rpm, worked fine. Am replacing PS pump.

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New pump seems to have fixed the problem. I thank you all for your help and suggestions.



Good job there OP, glad you got the problem fixed. Turning the steering wheel all the way to where it locks is probably what causes the most stress on a PS pump; going forward, best to avoid when possible.