Is it just EPS or something else?

I’m starting to think my issue just may be normal operating procedure for EPS, but I’d love to know what others think.

I have a 2010 V6 Ford Escape that I just bought three weeks ago.

In the morning, after stops, or if it sits for more than 2 minutes, the first turn from center makes a slight–sometimes soft, sometimes louder–thump, as if something is either engaging or unclinching. It almost sounds like the brakes are unclinching. It seems like it’s coming from the steering column.

I’ve taken it in three times. Per the TSB, they replaced steering column, u-joinjts, and gear box, but the noise is still there. I drove a 2010 4-banger rental Escape they gave me, and it had the same noise. BUT, I drove a 2011 Escape, and it did not.

Is this just something typical to Escapes and the EPS system, or is it worth pursuing to the gates of hell?

By EPS I mean Electrical Power Assist. I should mention, i can reporduce the sound even when the car isn’t on. All it take is a itty-bitty turn of the wheel and there’s a knock.