Rats. Your symptoms are very typical for a rack and pinion assembly, but I suppose a gear box could cause this too. The glaring clue is the difference in turning effort between the two directions. A weak pump will cause hard steering both ways, never just one way.
There is a way an improper alignment can cause hard steering one way, but that will not change over time by itself. That symptom will appear right after the alignment was done. If any repairs were made to the front suspension system, an alignment is the first thing to consider.
The next step is to use a flow gauge to measure the volume of power steering fluid flow while turning each way. If the volume is higher when turning to the right, internal leakage is taking place in the gear box. Again, that is not common with that style steering gear because a single piston is used and only the control valve can have something different for each direction. In the rack and pinion assembly, leakage in the spool valve is real common. In fact, GM had a huge problem with that in their 1980's front-wheel-drive cars. Their fix was to replace the spool valve in hopes that would make it out of the 50,000 mile warranty, then the proper repair, replacing the entire steering gear, became the owner's responsibility.
Friday, June 3rd, 2016 AT 7:15 PM