Based on your observations, the loss of power steering suggests a belt problem. Couple that with an unusual noise and I'd be looking at the vibration damper. Many of them have the outer ring with the pulley cast into it. That ring is glued to the hub. Very often that gel lets go and the ring falls off. It can spin too. The trick is to catch it while it's acting up so you can see if the belt is turning slowly. Auto parts stores have catalogs full of replacement vibration dampers.
Also check the belt tension. If the spring-loaded tensioner pulley is weak, the belt will slip but it will usually make a horrendous squealing noise too.
Monday, March 12th, 2012 AT 4:01 PM