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SUZUKI power steering

I have a 2002 XL7. It started making a high pitched whining noise intermittently. Now it is constant and the power steering has stopped working and the air conditioner went out at the same time. Additionally, we no longer have SUZUKI service in the Southern CA area as all dealerships have closed. Is it safe for me to drive it (if I can turn the wheel)? what do you think it needs? in what ballpark is the repair cost for this? should I junk it? Thanks.

The probability is about 99% that the serpentine belt that drives the power steering pump and the A/C compressor is extremely loose and “glazed”. This same belt very possibly also drives the alternator. If that is the case, the slipping belt will very quickly kill the battery, thus adding to your repair costs. If this belt is the original one, I would suggest replacing it, rather than simply having the tension adjusted. It is very possible that the belt tensioner(s) will have to be replaced also.

And, if the battery is the original one, it is already in a weakened state, allowing the slipping belt to lead to a VERY quick (a few minutes of driving, at most) death for the battery.

Any competent mechanic can replace a serpentine belt. My suggestion is to have the car towed to an independent mechanic, NOT to Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, AAMCO, Pep Boys, or any other chain operation. While you are there for the belt replacement, have the battery load-tested, to see if it needs to be replaced. If you don’t replace an old weakened battery promptly, you will next wind up killing the alternator, and that can be a very pricey repair.

And, the next time that you hear a new sound coming from the car, don’t wait until something fails. Repairs that are deferred are invariably more expensive than repairs that are done promptly.

I think VDCdriver is correct. Sounds like a loose belt to me. A very loose belt.

If you have no power steering it is NOT safe to drive the car. If you can’t replace the belt yourself I suggest you have the vehicle carried, on a flat bed truck, to a mechanic for repairs. Check your owner’s manual for information about towing this vehicle. If it’s AWD you may not be able to tow it with the wheels on the ground.

A new serpentine belt shouldn’t cost much. The belt itself is probably less than $50. I see no need to junk the vehicle yet. Find out for sure what’s wrong with it, then you’ll have a better idea of repair cost.

Now it’s time to find a mechanic. Please heed VDCdriver’s warning about chain automotive repair shops. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, church members, etc, for recommendations. You can also consult the “Mechanics Files” section of the CarTalk home page for mechanics in your area.