Lose Power Steering in the rain

I have a 2004 Chrysler Town & Country with 87,000 miles. I’ve started having a problem where if my car is left out in a heavy rain, when I start the car and put it in reverse to back out of a parking spot I can turn the wheel to cut out, but when I then put it in drive I have no power steering. I sometimes hear a whining noise. It lasts a few moments and then I either hear the whining noise again and it resolves itself - or I turn off the ignition, restart the car and it’s fine. Any ideas?

This is only an “idea”, but it could be that the belt is loose and slips in the rain when water gets on it. That would account for the squeal as well. That would be the first thing to check out. Also check the fluid in the power steering reservoir.

Have your mechanic check the belt that drives the power steering pump.
The belt is either loose, or it is glazed, or it is just plain worn out.
The moisture during periods of heavy rain is exacerbating an existing condition with the belt, more than likely.

Replace the p/s belt and adjust the tension properly.

Very common problem with these vehicles. A new serpentine belt and tensioner will probably solve the problem. Also make sure the splash shield under the passenger side of the engine is in place.

NYBo has it exactly right. The power steering is driven by a serpentine belt and the factory tensioner has a tendency to corrode and freeze in place, it still spins at the pulley but as the belt wears or stretches the tensioner arm can’t move to keep tension on the belt. Don’t be a cheapskate like I was and just take the tensioner off and free it up. That’s what I did and now, six months later I have to do the job all over again.