Engine Whining Noise, Power Fluid Leak

Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 HONDA PILOT
  • 3.5L
  • V6
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 47,000 MILES
For the last few weeks, I have heard a whining noise coming from the engine area of the car. At first, it was barely noticeable, but it gradually began to get louder. Over the last week or so, it has been loud enough to convince me that something was definitely wrong. The care drives well. I looked under the hood a few times, and nothing looked wrong. The sound definitely seemed to be coming from the same side of the engine where the belt turns various car parts. I did not see any leaks. The oil and transmission fluid levels were good. Today, it was much louder than before, and I happened to notice that the car was a little wet on the front bottom of the car. The fluid was clear yellow (not slightly dirty as my oil was). I popped the hood and noticed that it was very wet everywhere around the power steering reservoir. The reservoir was wet, everywhere around it and beneath it. I feel like this points me to the power steering system. I did not check the fluid level while the car was hot because I thought that the fluid appeared to be expelled from the reservoir and could have been pressurized for some reason.

So, at this point, I am not sure if the whining noise was caused by a low fluid level due to a leak in the system. Or, I am wondering if the whining problem could be causing the fluid leak. Tomorrow morning, I will check the fluid level and try to get the fluid level where it needs to be. My next step will see if that solves the problem. One other thing for me to note- I have not had the slightest problem with driving the vehicle, engine power, transmission, or turning. I have seen no symptoms of a failing of the power steering system.

Any advice would be appreciated. I will update this post once I get more information.
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 AT 4:20 PM

13 Replies

Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
It sounds like your power steering pump is making your noise. You can remove the belt, start the car and see if the noise is gone. If it is the pump, it will have to be replaced

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 AT 5:27 PM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the advice. That sounds like a good way to identify and isolate the problem. I don't have many good tools living where I do, but I'll see what I can do. I'm sure I can find someone who can help me with me with that. I'll give it a shot and get back with you.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 AT 6:22 PM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Roy, thanks for your advice. Upon looking at my vehicle again, I simply no not believe I have the proper tools (and know how!) To remove the belt from my power steering pump. I'm pretty sure I know which part is the pump. I believe it is the one on top with the hose that goes to the PS reservoir. This part is making a loud noise, especially when the wheel is turned. Unfortunately, today being New Year's Day, all the stores are closed here where I live, so I cannot buy more fluid. However, I can say that when the problem began, it was just a noise. Now, it is a very loud noise and fluid is leaking. I never noticed a fluid leak until the noise was very loud. A couple other things I noted- The fluid level is presently a little below the "low" line. It is splashing around pretty violently inside the reservoir, and I believe the leak may be from the lid of the reservoir where the fluid is working itself out. Can a bad power steering pump cause this? I cannot drive much at present because when the vehicle runs, it loses fluid. I'm pretty sure that the last few times I came to a stop, it seems that the power steering may have been beginning to lose function just a bit. One other thing, I live in a Central American country and it is pretty hard to find genuine parts and fluids, except for in the Capital city, which is about 1 hour away. Although my vehicle says to only use genuine Honda PS fluid. Is it possible to use a generic PS fluid? Will this cause problems? I ask this because I probably need to go to the capital city to buy parts, and if my PS pump is not bad, I don't want to kill it by driving without fluid. Thanks!
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 9:04 AM
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
Yes, you can use power steering fluid. That is a universal fluid for all power steering systems.
Can you see any other spot the leak may be coming from?

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 9:09 AM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
There is a hose connection on the bottom of the reservoir that is wet, but I think that may be from the fluid leaking down. The top of the reservoir seems to be quite wet, even after I wiped it off and drove about 6-7 miles. Normally, when I look for leaks, I look for the highest wet spot with fresh oil. This seems to be the reservoir cap, and it only seems to leak when the car is running. But I can't help but wonder about the noise. The noise seemed to have started and progressed a good bit before I ever noticed a leak. I know that the loud whining noise can be a result of low fluid, but can a problem in the PS pump cause a noise and eventually cause a leak? One other piece of information- The noise is ever present. It is not only when I turn the wheel, but seems to be related to the engine noise. For example, when I push the gas and the engine revs up, the noise gets much higher and louder as well. It does seem to be extra loud when I turn the wheel.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 9:23 AM
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
Yes, the vanes in the pump are what is making the noise.

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 9:39 AM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Question about the splashing inside the reservoir- Is this ever normal? Does this normally happen when the fluid level is low? Or would this be more likely indicative of a bad PS pump or air getting into the system?
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 12:13 PM
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
When the fluid is at the proper level, you wont see this action

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, January 1st, 2016 AT 12:19 PM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Hi Roy, Thanks for the suggestions thus far. Presently, my problem is that in my country, there are very few stores that would sell the Honda specification PS fluid. Probably, only in the dealership in the Capital, which will be closed til Monday. I am going to look for it some more in the smaller city where I live. Once I get more fluid, I will add it to the car and see if that fixes the problem.

The other thing I wanted to tell you is that I decided that I was willing to try removing the belt from the PS unit as you mentioned. I looked under the hood, and it appears that there is one main belt that runs everything (PS, AC, etc.). If I were to remove the belt from the PS unit, it did not appear possible to give the belt enough tension to run on everything else. I was not sure if you were familiar with this, but it appeared that it would not be possible to simply remove the belt from the PS unit on this vehicle as it would be for vehicles that have a 2 belt system.

At this point, it appears that I cannot do anything until I have more of that fluid. Once I get some compatable fluid and pout it in, I'll let you know the results.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 AT 7:49 AM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Roy, thanks for the help thus far. I thought I'd give you a report. Today, I was able to buy the Honda PS fluid. I jacked up the car, added fluid above the high level, then started the car. It started and immediately sounded a little bit better. I then turned the wheel all the way to both sides about 3 times and turned off the car. As I turned the wheels, it felt as if the power steering was struggling a bit. When I checked the fluid level afterwards, it had gone down some. There were a little bit of foamy bubbles in the fluid, and I assumed this meant that there was either air coming into the system or coming out of the system. I waited till the bubbles disapeared, then added more fluid and repeated the process. The second time, it did not struggle as it did the first time, and the noise was a bit better. There were still bubbles afterwards. The third time I went through the process, the noise almost disappeared and there were no bubbles afterwards. I added more fluid to top it off. I then took it for a test drive. It still made the sound some as I accelerated, but it was mostly gone. I did several three point turns, and it seemed that the noise was going away a bit more each time. Now, the noise is virtually gone and the car is driving smoothly.

So, in summary, it seems that there must be a small leak somewhere in the system, and that this caused the fluid level to gradually lower. Over the weeks, as the noise got louder, it must have been because the fluid was getting lower. Once it got to a certain low point, it must have been sucking air into the system and causing the splashing in the reservoir, which caused the fluid to work it's way out through the top at a much faster pace than the original leak.

Does this sound like a reasonable theory, or do you think I am missing something? Supposing this to be the case, it sounds like I need to keep an eye on the fluid level, and if it gradually goes down, then I must then find the leak and get that fixed. I've never had a PS problem in any car that I've owned, but it's been a good learning experience for me to learn how the system works.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 4th, 2016 AT 12:15 PM
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
Keep an eye on the leak. You will need to repair that as soon as you can.

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 4th, 2016 AT 2:46 PM
Tiny
JEREMYB777
  • MEMBER
Yeah, especially with the cost of the Honda PS fluid overseas. It ain't cheap!
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 4th, 2016 AT 3:21 PM
Tiny
ASEMASTER6371
  • EXPERT
Yes, your theory sounds good. Keep an eye on the fluid level

Roy
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, January 4th, 2016 AT 3:40 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides