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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

My 2006 Touring has ~126K trouble free miles on it. It's probably the best vehicle I've ever owned. Over the nearly 13 years I've had it, it has literally never, ever, failed in any way. I maintain it well but, even still, zero failures is pretty amazing.

Over the last couple of weeks, I'm noticing the power steering is feeling "thick" like it's only half functioning. The fluid level is fine but, something is definitely not right with it.

I moved into an apt in May while building a new house and had a local quick lube place doing the oil changes (I did them all prior). I'm wondering if they topped off the power steering fluid with something they shouldn't have. Although, it seems unlikely a small amount of incorrect fluid would cause this behavior. Also, it has taken months and some cold weather for the condition to show up.

Anybody experience this and if so, what caused it? Is it possible the belt is loose/stretched? I suppose the pump could just be going as well. It's very cold today and the issue was even worse in the lower temps.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or ideas.
 

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While it is certainly possible that a slipping belt is causing the PS pump to deliver below optimal pressure, it's unlikely that is happening without also impacting the alternator and that would turn on the low charging warning light in the instrument cluster. The more likely culprit is either a clogged filter in the bottom of the reservoir (the only solution is a new reservoir), or a failing "O" ring on the supply line to the pump allowing air into the system (inspect the reservoir while the engine is running and look for air bubbles in the fluid), which impacts the pressure available to the steering rack. Both of these are commonly seen in Honda products from this era and there are plenty of DIY videos on youtube to show you how to do it yourself if you are so inclined. I'm also guessing the PS fluid has never been flushed and replaced? Not uncommon to see that service missed even by dealers.
 

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In additional to what pk said, might be a long shot but check the air pressure in your tires.

Re the pulley and belt, a helper turning the steering full right and left with engine running and while you carefully watch (from a distance) will tell you if the pulley turns and/or the belt skips/slips.

When running, the belt shouldn’t excessively wobble like it has a lot of slack. That could mean the tensioner needs replacement. Don’t have the manual handy but with engine off, it should only flex about 1/4-1/2 inch when pushed down where it bridges across two pulleys.

Also with the engine off, if the belt has cracks in the ribs, it’s time for replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks to both of you for commenting. I'll check for air in the PS tank and also the belt tension. Tires are good. Also, the condition varies. It's most noticeable in the morning when it's colder outside. It's my first time in many, many, years to be parking outside so, this may just be somewhat "normal" stiffness due to cold but, I don't think so.

Also, and I think completely unrelated, there seems to be a bit of "looseness" in the front suspension. That is, when going over expansion cracks or uneven seams in pavement I'm noticing some louder than is should be bumping over things. It's like the front suspension has some vertical play in it. It's not really a noise but, more of a feeling. I took it in to a reputable suspension shop locally and they just called and said they can't find anything wrong with it. They said the passenger side outer tie rod has a little play but, nothing serious and they don't think that is causing anything. Strange.

When riding in my wife's newer CRV (2016) it seems to take the same types of bumps more smoothly and less noticeably. Also, I had a guy from work give me a ride since the MDX was in the shop today and his older CRV (2005) also seems to take the bumps around my house much better.

Something is definitely not right but, a suspension shop can't find any problems. Any thoughts?
 

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Re vertical play, my opinions (hopefully your shop checked at least these and gave you a list of what was checked).

Struts - look for fluid leaks, streaks
on the housing and control arms. Low possibilty but check for loose nuts/bolts.

Strut bearing - not sure how to check but usually comes with a clank over bigger bumps.

Lower control arms - there are two bushings. One in line with the front wheel that’s about 1.5 inches in diameter. Axis is horizontal. Hard to check but that one could have vertical play. There is a larger one that’s about 3 inches in diameter behind the wheel. Axis vertical. You have to turn the wheels out and check each side. They’ve been known to crack. Usually shows up as steering wheel wobble left/right at 30-50 mph. (Mine seem to go about every 12-18 months.). If you haven’t replaced the rear bushings, wouldn’t be surprised if they were cracked but could be a separate problem to your vert play.

Loose lug nuts.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks LeftOver. The shop didn't exactly provide a list but, they said they checked "everything" for play and/or loose nuts, etc., and didn't find anything. They're a reputable local shop and I was referred there by a friend. They didn't charge for the inspection as they know this builds trust and equity for any future needs.

Your info about the cracked control arms is interesting. I noticed the wheel shaking side to side at about 60 yesterday. I looked and saw ice build up on half of the wheel on the inside. This essentially throws wheel balance off by a mile. It's common in Michigan winters so, I wrote it off to that. I'll take it for spin later and see if the condition still exists. The temps are up to a balmy 36 degrees so, the ice has melted off.

Can I see the cracked control arm(s) visually? Where exactly do they crack?

Thanks.
 

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I had a pulsating On/Off feeling to my power steering when I bought my 06 MDX last year with 158K miles on it.

The easiest thing to try first would be to drain out the old fluid and replace it with fresh Honda P/S fluid.

That actually solved my problem.
 
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