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Steering noise / vibration / feel

My 2000 Legacy Brighton has steering issues. Previous owner’s son drove over (hit?) some curbing, and repairs were done. I think that maybe the impact damaged the valve that controls the variable power steering. In that, I think the valve is wide open. asking the pump to deliver hi pressure all the time. The car seems to have a very prominent “detent” at TDC - takes a bit of effort to rock it off TDC, but as soon as i’m off TDC and truning a bit, the steering wheel is VERY easy to turn. During very cold temps, at idle, when I turn the wheel, the steering “grumbles” very low fequency vibration, as if this valve is fluttering. I even turned the wheel slowly from outside the driver’s window (on ice) and could wee the front wheels shimmy with the vibration sound. Can this valve be replaced, or am I looking at a total PS unit replacement? thanks

Stanzaman, You Are Right To Be Concerned With Steering Problems, Especially With The Car’s Known History. Nobody Wants To Drive A Car That Doesn’t Steer Properly.

Your car’s problem(s) possibly relate to previous damage or maybe not.

Disclaimer: I do not warrant the accuracy of any of this information or advice, nor will I say it will solve your problem(s). I am only making you aware that there is written information available to technicians.

There exist a couple of TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) that possibly pertain to your car and give guidance to Subaru technicians working on 2000 Legacy steering complaints. Make sure your vehicle is covered by them before using them.

The first deals specifically with 2000 Legacy vehicles and describes a “Steering Knocking / Rattling Noise When Turning” (especially over bumps while turning). The fix is installation of a set of Subaru “Modified Power Steering Lines” kit. This doesn’t really match your description.

What engine do you have ? The other bulletin sounds more like your description. It covers 2000 - 2002 Legacy Sedan, Legacy Wagon & Outback vehicles with a 2.5 L engine. The bulletin addresses “an abnomal noise (groan) coming from the power steering pump and / or slight vibration in the steering wheel when turning at very low speeds.” The fix again is a new style power steering hose assembly that was used in production starting in April, 2002.

The bulletin has recommended diagnostic steps. First they say to remove certain clamps that secure the hose and see if the noise stops. If not, replace the hose assembly. If that doesn’t fix it, replace the P/S pump.

None of this talks about the “detent” feeling you describe. It looks like you may need advice from an experienced Subaru technician in a dealership or independent shop.

That “detent” feel you describe is disconcerting. I’d hate to think you are driving with damaged steering components. Get it checked ASAP. Hope this helps somehow.


thank you CSA for the comprehensive reply.
Second item does sound like the noise/vibration issue.
Possibly the other steering characteristics are unrelated.
I’ve been driving older Subarus for 20 years. When compared to my other 2 Imprezas, this Legacy does feel different… but what is an abnormality and what is inherent to this vehicle may be difficult to determine. I wish I had a detailed diagram/description of the variable power steering control valve thingy… I wonder if it shuts ‘off’ (not calling for power) at zero torsion on the steering wheel shaft, i.e. TDC.
thanks again.

Stan, You’re Welcome. It’s Difficult To Say Whether Or Not Your Legacy Has Already Had The Hose Assembly Updated, Previously.

I know almost nothing about Subarus. We have almost none near where I live as there are no dealers. However, there are lots of Subaru enthusiasts who frequent this site. Maybe some of them will enter this discussion.