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My 2000 Model 323f Mazda AT, 1.6L suddenly has problem on power steering. Yesterday morning, I started the engine and after half a minute started driving slowly. While backing and doing the curves, the steering wheel becomes hard (somewhat getting stuck). I don't think it is loosing power. I have experienced loosing power and I can still turn the steering wheel just harder than usual.

This however is different. It is like getting stuck intermittently (very short intervals) and then works again. I tried driving slowly again to pick up more RPM and power steering seems back to normal.

When I arrived at the office and do the parking, I experienced the same issue while doing the curves and while backing (reverse gear). I check the power steering oil and the level is ok. I observe no leaks as well. No unfamiliar sound anywhere as well.

Before I go to a mechanic, do you guys have any idea what might be causing this? I just bought this car 3 months ago so I have no idea of the history. But in the 3 months driving it, this is the first time I've experienced this. It's like it is happening on low RPM only.

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Considering you are saying the fluid level is fine, it's likely one of two things:

  • The serpentine belt is slipping during lower rpm operation. At lower rpm is when there is the most demand put on the pump. If the belt is old and worn or if the idler pulley is not keeping up with where it should be, the belt could slip. Also, if there is any oil or contaminants on the belt, you might see slippage there as well. (most likely, IMHO)
  • Power steering pump is dieing and will need replacement soon. As pumps get older, they get worn out. I get tired sometimes, too ;-)
  • If the serpentine is loose, the voltage output from the alternator may also be affected. – Zaid Sep 2 '15 at 9:03
  • It turns out the belt is worn. Had to have it replaced and everything is back to normal. Smooth steering even if parked. – L42 Sep 3 '15 at 21:51
  • @L42 - That's awesome. Thanks for letting us know! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 3 '15 at 23:24
  • Np. How I wish we were neighbors. :) Then having a car will be a lot more fun. – L42 Sep 3 '15 at 23:30
  • @L42 - Fun for whom? ;-) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 3 '15 at 23:30

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