Power steering problems

I was running late on the way to the airport when I noticed that the steering wheel on my 1999 Subaru Legacy was much harder to turn. Due to the fact that I was running late to catch a flight I did not immediately pull over to determine what the problem was. I drove the approximately 20 more miles to the airport hoping the problem was not too bad. It was harder to turn the steering wheel but I was still able to safely drive on the highway at normal Colorado highway speeds (65-75 mph). Only when I slowed down at the airport did I notice that the steering wheel was considerably harder to turn than it normally is. Due to my apprehension of missing my flight I locked the car and left it parked at the airport without looking under the hood to determine the extent of the damage.

I realize that I need more information including possibly taking it to a mechanic to determine exactly what the problem is. However, I’m not scheduled to return to my car until tomorrow night around midnight and was just wondering if anyone had any ideas concerning what my potential issue is. Because I live about an hour and a half away from the airport I specifically am wondering whether I will be able to drive the car away from the airport or if I will need to get it towed.

From my limited experience with cars and the internet research I have done I am assuming I will either need more power steering/transmission fluid, a new serpentine belt, or a combination of the two. If it is only a fluid issue can I do this myself? Again I realize that I am being extremely vague due to not being able to look at the car but any kind of advice would be greatly appreciated so I can make arrangements for a rental car or towing service as there will not be any mechanics open when I return to my car.

I am not a Subaru mechanic, nor do I play one on TV. I don’t know just when the Legacy went to electric power steering, but I think the whole Subaru line has done so by now. That said, do a google search for Ultimate Subaru Message Board, if you don’t get a good answer here. There are some folks there who really know their soobs

I am not at all sure but I would first add the correct fluid. Start by checking the fluid level.

I think you will have to tow the car. You can’t fix this in an airport parking lot.
At the very least you need to fill the power-steering fluid, with the correct fluid.

Really, the FIRST thing you should do is look at the front tires and see if one or both of them has low tire pressure.

After that, check the power steering fluid followed by inspection of the drive belt.
I mention tire pressure because as a tech, I’d say that about 3/4 of the vehicles that I’ve seen on a service lift during routine maintenance have low tire pressure; ranging from one tire to all five. (counting the spare too)