It was the first snow of the winter, only a light dusting really, but enough that my kids wanted to scrape together a snowman. Unfortunately, school wasn’t cancelled so I had to drive Evan to school on time. After dropping him off, I decided to take the younger two and go visit my grandmother. I’d been driving about 30 minutes when I heard my van start to whine. It was worse than a sleep deprived child. Every time I turned at low speeds, it whined away. I got worried! I made it to my grandma’s house and my aunt was in the yard when I arrived. She heard the noise and agreed it was unusual. I cut the van off, not thinking anything of it, and called my dad to come look at my van immediately. My dad owns a body shop so he’s very familiar with the weird noises that vehicles make.
An hour or so later, he took the van out on a test drive. Would you believe that it didn’t make the sound again? What in the world? It made no sense. When I drove back home that afternoon, it ran fine, no noise whatsoever. Weird.
Thanksgiving came a few weeks later, and again, we were traveling to visit my family. They live an hour and a half from us, and once again, about 30 minutes into the drive the van began to whine. When we arrived at my aunt’s house, I called my dad, hoping he could hear it over the phone, but he could not. After dinner that night we had him check it, but it wasn’t making the noise anymore. This was infuriating!
I took it to my local mechanic the next week, but he couldn’t hear anything either. He told me to come back anytime it started making the noise again. I returned two more times, but he could never hear it! At this point, I began to think my van just didn’t like me. Either that, or it wanted me to look like a fool. Tricky little van. It must be angry that Evan and Lindy trash it out so often. I’ll have to get onto them about that.
A few weeks later, the van made the same noise again, coming home from my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve night. What was it about being an hour away from my home, at night, on a cold holiday, that made my van want to whine? This made no sense.
Finally, a cold snap hit. By this point, I knew that the noise was temperature related. It had to be at or below freezing for it to whine loud enough that anyone not used to the van’s noises could distinguish it from the other sounds. I prepared myself, ready to take it to the mechanic the next time I heard the noise. One afternoon, we were picking up my husband’s car from having the work done, and though the van was whining, I knew it wasn’t as loud as it usually was and it would get worse if it got a bit colder. We took the kids bowling that night and after returning home, it was 30 degrees. The van was whining…loudly. Between the whining and the misbehaving, it really needed a spanking by this point!
Instead of losing my opportunity, I whipped out my cell phone and took a video of the noise. We noticed that it got a lot worse when we turned the wheel. I took a 2 minute video of the whine and saved it in case I needed proof. Thankfully, the next week I took it to the mechanic when the daily temperatures didn’t raise above 25. The whine was bad and he finally heard it!
Finally! Turns out, my power steering pump was bad and the whine worsened during cold periods because the power steering fluid got thicker and made the noise.
Unfortunately, it would be a few days before he could get to the van and I didn’t want anything to go wrong, so I called the Honda dealership. They assured me that they keep the pumps in stock and they could replace it in about 2 hours.
So, when I finally brought the van in, it was a relatively warm day, and the van wasn’t whining anymore. Even though my mechanic had diagnosed the problem, the Honda dealership had not. I knew this would be a problem so I let them know I had a video if they wanted to see it. The service rep said he’d let the mechanic know about it and they would let me know if they needed to see it.
About 30 minutes into the waiting game, they came into the waiting room and said they needed to see the video, that the van wasn’t whining. I opened my computer and pressed play. It only took 2 seconds before the mechanic was nodding in agreement. “Yep, definitely the power steering,” he said.
All I could do was smile.
My dear van, you do not know me. I am relentless. I will win. Just give up and behave yourself.
*For reference, we own a 2007 Honda Odyssey. I love the van and this is the first problem we’ve had. FYI…in case you have one of these vans…there is a recall out on the power steering pump but you have to catch the problem before you hit 100,000 miles. If you do, Honda will fix it for you at no cost. If you don’t, I hope you have a warranty like we do. It would have been $400 if we didn’t have a warranty. Keep this in mind.