If you aren't losing fluid, the branch likely didn't hurt anything. If the PS pump is new, the fluid is full and clean, and the belt is tight and not slipping, I have a feeling the rack and pinion may be the problem.
There are bushings that can fail causing excessive drag when turning. The locking when it was off the ground isn't uncommon. There is basically no resistance on the steering, so it likely moves a little and locks without you realizing it moved.
Also, is this still only happening in extreme cold?
Let me know.
Friday, January 6th, 2023 AT 9:57 PM