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OK, so my daughter, who drives a well-loved 2003 MDX and sorta understands that it has wheels and an engine, recently presented me with an interesting issue. She drove through a deep puddle in a mall area during a downpour and suddenly "I couldn't turn the steering wheel, like it was locked up when you take the key out" and a light on the dash came on that kinda looked like a battery. She managed to get the car off the road and into a parking lot ( which suggests to me she did have steering, just no power assist ). The steering soon returned to normal, and the "battery light" went out. She claims the engine was running the whole time, and she didn't touch the key. Vehicle now seems to function normally.

173k miles on the vehicle. Timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump done at about 100k miles. I had noticed what I thought was a bearing growl some time ago, but dealer service thought it was normal. Vehicle got a new transmission courtesy of Strawberry Milkshake of Death at 153k miles. I'm not sure what the shop did to flush the engine coolant circuit.

So I'm thinking the serpentine belt started slipping and the vehicle lost alternator ( charging light ) and power steering assist. But I'm also thinking a bearing somewhere must be getting awfully rough or the belt wouldn't slip when it got wet. Vehicle has never had the power steering pump replaced, or the alternator. And I'm not sure about the status of the water pump since it got exposed to ATF. A/C seems to function normally. Not sure where to start. I guess I could pull the serpentine belt and try rotating pulleys by hand.

Thoughts?
 

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What I am thinking of is that the gaskets on the power steering pump have hardened up and when she went into the puddle, it put water into the PS system.

For the battery light, that might be a different thing where it hit the alternator.
 

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Usually with the Timing Belt job is a good idea to replace the Serpentine Belt Tensioner... Did you use OEM for the Serpentine Belt?
Unless the Tensioner is loose its really hard to make the Belt Slip even underwater.
 

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I'm betting that the snorkeling experience just relocated grease and/or oil from the engine to the belt, causing it to slip. Personally, I'd suggest that if nothing slips now, to not worry about it and suggest to your daughter that she shouldn't drive underwater in the future.
 

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Yeah, the serpentine belt/belts can slip when wet....
 

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Usually with the Timing Belt job is a good idea to replace the Serpentine Belt Tensioner... Did you use OEM for the Serpentine Belt?

Unless the Tensioner is loose its really hard to make the Belt Slip even underwater.

OEM belt and everything else. Yeah, should probably check tensioner if nothing else. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What I am thinking of is that the gaskets on the power steering pump have hardened up and when she went into the puddle, it put water into the PS system.

For the battery light, that might be a different thing where it hit the alternator.
I will check condition of PS fluid. Thanks.
 
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