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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2007 EX with about 115k miles on it. This morning on the way to work I pull onto the highway and the following all happens at once:

- The battery warning light came on
- The vehicle became very difficult to steer
- There was a loud squealing under the hood

Was very scary because I was turning onto a busy two-lane highway and I lost the ability to easily steer. Then the problems self-corrected and I drove to work no problem.

This is the second time this has happened, the first I thought it was a fluke or my mind was playing tricks on me. In both cases it had been raining quite a bit so there were puddles and standing water on the road. Also, in both cases it had been within 5 minutes of starting up the vehicle.

My limited experience is telling me the power steering pump/pulley seized, which would explain why it impacted the battery via the serpentine belt not being able to turn the alternator. However, I wanted to get a second opinion from those that may have been in a similar situation.
 

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2005 Honda Element EX AWD
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How dark does the power steering fluid look. Does it look like a dark ale type beer or a Miller lite? Fluid looks more like a Miller lite when it's new. I would start with the obvious and maybe change out the fluid, very easy to DIY. You could also have a power steering pump go out. Sounds maybe like fluid isn't moving around well in the lines. If fluid is low pump will make a wheering kind of a sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hmm. I got the E when it had about 40k miles on it and don't believe the fluid has ever been changed. Sounds like it is time to do that (I found the DIY in the forums and looks very easy).

I'd be willing to "waste" $20 on a DIY fluid change and chance fixing the issue versus going straight to the mechanic. Thank you for the help!
 

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I suspect the belt got wet and was slipping momentarily. As long as there is sufficient fluid in the power steering system the pump will not seize, and even if it did it would make a loud whining noise first.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Do you think that would also explain the battery warning light (e.g. the wet belt slipping and not turning the alternator accessory pulley?). Once the squealing stopped after about 5-10 seconds the battery light went off and the steering wheel was easy to turn again.
 

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How dark does the power steering fluid look. Does it look like a dark ale type beer or a Miller lite? Fluid looks more like a Miller lite when it's new. I would start with the obvious and maybe change out the fluid, very easy to DIY. You could also have a power steering pump go out. Sounds maybe like fluid isn't moving around well in the lines. If fluid is low pump will make a wheering kind of a sound.
Well, not sure if it will solve the problem (others mentioned it may be a belt slipping), but turns out I REALLY needed to change the PS fluid. It looked less like a dark ale and more like a chocolate stout. It was so simple that I plan to let the new fluid cycle for a week or two and then change it again to get the fluid really clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I had the belt and tensioner replaced around 80k miles, but it sounds like I've got some premature wear going on. It'll be next on the list to replace.
 

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Yep, that looks more like chocolate stout. That will at least give you peace of mind that the fluid has been changed. That sounds like a good plan to do again in a week or so. Serpentine belt might need some attention as well. Keep us posted with the final outcome. Also would recommend Only using Honda fluids.
 

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Did you do this with a turkey baster (i.e. just pulling out the older fluid and then adding fresh PS fluid in)? I'm hoping to do this a few times during the summer.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
No I actually removed the reservoir and "poured" it out. It just sits in a bracket so it is extremely easy to remove and tilt.

Check out this DIY here. It took all of 10 minutes and about $10 for two bottles of the OEM fluid from the dealership. As easy as changing an air filter.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update:

After changing out the PS fluid I ordered a Goodyear Gatorback serpentine belt and tensioner with a new pulley. I had it installed at Pep Boys where they inspected the pulleys. None of the pulleys were loose and there was no indication of any bearings sticking. There was some initial wear on the belt, which is concerning because I had it replaced within the past 40k miles. Maybe that's what I get for letting a technician slap on whatever "house" belt they use.

Since then I haven't had any of the same issues. Lots of rain around here and the PS hasn't locked up anymore. I imagine it was, as another user indicated, the belt slipping because it was wet, but I feel better knowing the E has clean PS fluid in it and a new belt and tensioner.
 
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