I have a 2003 Honda Accord V6 four-door sedan. The power steering fails intermittently. The failure occurs when the car is started, or just after it is started. The car is steerable, but the steering is very heavy.
History of problem -- The power steering pump was replaced in October of 2011. Shop told me it was leaking. The shop was not a Honda dealer, nor was it a Honda specialist.
The steering loss first occurred in May of 2012. I had parked at the airport to pick up a friend. Car was warmed up. Engine was off and the car sat for perhaps five minutes. When we pulled out of the parking spot, I realized I had no power steering. We had to drive several miles to her house with no power steering. I parked there and went inside. When I left to drive home, the power steering was fine. I took the car to another, more capable garage the next morning. The power steering was still working. They said they probably couldn't diagnose the problem if they couldn't duplicate it. I decided to wait to see if it got worse.
Nothing happened for six months. Two weeks ago, the power steering failed as I backed out of my garage at home. It returned almost immediately. A few days later, it happened again. I drove about half a block and the power steering returned.
Took it back to the mechanics. They kept it all day, but they couldn't duplicate the problem. When I picked it up that evening, they theorized that an aftermarket fluid might have been used when the pump was replaced. They said Honda requires its own fluid. I made an appointment to have the fluid drained, the system flushed and Honda fluid installed.
That night, the power steering failed just after the car was started. It returned immediately.
Next day, the fluid was changed. The car was OK for four days, then it happened again. I had driven the car some distance and stopped to get my mail. I restarted the car and started off. After about 10 feet, the power steering failed. I got it home, still with no power steering, and left it for the night.
Next morning, the power steering was fine.
To recap, the power steering fails when the car is hot or cold. It fails when the car is started, or just afterwards. It usually returns immediately, but not always. The problem started seven months after the pump was replaced. The fluid has been drained and replaced with Honda fluid.
There are no noises -- no squealing belts, no groans, no clicks. There are no apparent leaks. The reservoir level is unchanged, and there is nothing on the garage floor after the car sits overnight.
This car has been recalled for a power steering hose. The new hose won't be available until 2013. I had that hose replaced three years ago when it failed. There was loss of fluid and smoke when it hit the exhaust manifold. I am getting no such symptoms now, so I doubt it is that hose.
Problem should be with the pump. The flow control valve is sticking intermittently resulting in no pressure buildup. Remove the flow control valve and check for scoring. Have the reservoir cleaned as well. The filter inside the reservoir tends to get clogged and this can cause premature pump failure.