Noise when slowing down....and turning

I had this “whirring” noise when slowing down…it only happens when the car has been driven around for awhile (20mins etc). It started about a week ago and I just ignored it. To me, it seems like the noise is only apparent when slowly down BUT that might be because I hear it at low speeds where at high speeds, its drowned out by road noise. The noise seems to be coming from the front drivers side (either under the hood or front drivers side tire).

Today, it was making the noise much louder and when pulling into work…I tried to turn and it made a grinding noise. Turning the steering wheel makes a grinding noise and I can feel the grinding feedback on the steering wheel.

Do you think it’s the power steering pump that is making both the whirring sound and the grinding noise?

The car is a 2000 corolla ce 4spd auto. How much would the fix be if it’s power steering? (and how long would it take)

Does it make noise when you’re sitting still and turning the wheel? If so, that might be indicative of a steering pump problem but, from your description, I’d be more inclined to look at your brake pads first. Perhaps lift the front wheels off the ground and see what happens when you turn it by hand.

I’m with RemcoW. If your moving it is probably the pads. Hopefully you have not ground into the rotors.

I had a chance to open up the hood and have someone turn the steering wheel…the noise is coming from the right side actually…right under the alternator (that’s probably where the power steering pump is). It’s definitely the power steering pump or pulley. When the car is moving, the steering is easy (still makes some grinding noise). When the car is still, turning is almost impossible.

I’m going to try and drive to a repair shop (about 15 miles away)…I just want to make sure there are no safety issues. Do you know if the steering column would suddenly lockup due to a bad power steering pump?

Turning the wheel with easy while driving does not mean much. Power assist - or the lack thereof - becomes really apparent when you are standing still or are driving slowly, as you’ve seen.
The steering wheel shouldn’t ‘lock up’, if that is what it is doing. It will become much harder to turn with a power steering failure, tho.
Is the power steering reservoir filled properly? Not that it is normal for that thing to be dry but it could mean you have a leak. If so, you could add some, enough to get it to your mechanic.

OK, I took it to the mechanic and he showed me that the belt has popped off one of the pulleys. I didn’t ask but I’m guessing it was one of the power steering pump pulley’s (it looked like the pulley below the crankshaft).

Anyways the mechanic said that he doesn’t know what caused it and will tell me tomorrow. He said there could be some kind of block etc.

Does anyone know why the belt would popoff? Prior to this, there was a whirring sound for 2 weeks which I ignored…could it be possible that one of the pulley’s got loose and the belt came off?

It might have been a bit loose. I’m sure it will be fine after you get the belt replaced.


Most likely the belt wasn’t properly tensioned.

Unless I’m mistaken, your power steering belt does NOT use an automatic tensioner. That means that you have to check and correct the belt tension, as needed.

I agree with @RemcoW . . . you’ll probably be okay with that new and properly tensioned belt

The mechanic called me back, he said he has to replace the power steering pump, assembly, and put in a new belt and it will cost me $450.

Do these pumps normally go out around 50k miles? Is there any specific to differentiate a problem with the pulley vs the pump?

The whirring sound was the belt self destructing. Power steering pumps usually last much longer than 50k miles especially on a Toyota. My 99 Camry has 168k and the pump is still good. Knock on wood.

Yes, PS pumps normally last far longer than 50k miles, but since the car is now at least 13 years old, its age should be taken into consideration, as well as its odometer mileage. And, if the belt that drives the PS pump was too tight, that could well be a factor in its demise.

The belt couldn’t have self destructed because all the other pumps like water and alternator were working.

When I looked under the hood, the belt seems intact…except it popped off one of the pulleys.

My guess is that pulley is bad and that the mechanic just wants to replace the whole thing so they can charge me $450.

It’s hard to say, but if the mechanic fixed the belt/pulley, topped off the fluid level, and there’s still a noise coming from the power steering pump when the steering wheel is turned with the car parked, engine on and idling, well, that is indicative of a failed power steering pump. It’s unusual for them to fail at 50K provided the fluid level has been regularly checked and maintained, but power steering pumps do fail for a variety of reasons. I’ve never experienced a belt coming completely off a pulley, but it may be that the consequences of the pulley failure resulted in the pump failure. In any event, nothing lasts forever. You’d have to replace the pump eventually no matter what. Be thankful I guess it is only the power steering pump and not the rack.

Going forward with your new pump, be sure to check the fluid level on a regular basis using the procedure in your owner’s manual, don’t underfill, and don’t overfill, and make sure you only use the fluid recommended. And avoid turning the steering wheel all the way to the stops when possible. Best of luck.