Proper vehicle care includes maintaining the optimal levels of various fluids which can help keep your vehicle up and running. When it comes to fluids in an automotive system, there would naturally be the question of when and why they would leak and if they do, what would be the impact on the function of the vehicle. Power steering systems assist in steering the vehicle with minimal effort required from the steering wheel. The quick response and effortless handling of your vehicle are thanks to the steering fluid which undergoes compression and reduces the effort you will need to apply on the steering wheel. Therefore, it goes without saying that a power steering fluid leak that brings the level of the fluid down will make your steering feel like it is tightening up. There can be a whirring noise from the steering pump when it runs with an insufficient amount of fluid. Even when you are rounding a soft corner, you will have to apply greater force than usual to turn your car. This is definitely not how your car should respond to a steering action. It is simple to understand and learn the causes of a steering leak and how to repair it, so that you can restore the performance of your steering system back to its original efficiency.
Why is my power steering fluid leaking?
The steering fluid flows from the reservoir via the hoses to the steering pump and then to the steering gear. The fluid can, therefore, leak from any of these aforementioned parts. Some steering systems include coolers, which can be another potential source of leaks. The coolers are located in the front of the vehicle, which is a highly likely area to get damaged. A fluid leak from the power steering pump, which compresses it, is often due to worn-out seals or natural wear and tear. The seals can be damaged due to impure, unfiltered steering fluid. Generally, the color of the power steering fluid is pink, red or clear. Contaminated steering fluids will usually have a brown or black color. A pump which runs with an inadequate amount of fluid will allow metal particles in it to enter other steering parts such as the rack and gear, thereby causing serious damage.
The steering hoses which carry the fluid to the rack or gear can also let the fluid seep out. The area where the high-pressure hoses connect to the metal fittings are highly susceptible to developing cracks and can thereby leak power steering fluid. The steering rack or gear also includes seals which can deteriorate and cause the fluid to flow out of the system.
How to fix a power steering leak?
A small hole or crack in any of the power steering parts are some of the usual sources of a leak in the system. Power steering fluid leaks and engine oil leaks are often confused with one another, as most power steering and engine parts are located in close proximity with each other. It is the color, odor and texture of the steering fluid that distinguishes it from engine oil.
In addition to fixing the leak at the right time, re-filling the power steering fluid with the right type of fluid is also important. Check your manufacturer's manual to see what fluid is recommended for your vehicle. Some people use automatic transmission fluid in place of steering fluid. While this may enable the system to work well, it can incur problems which can result in costly repairs in the long run.
Power steering leaks are often fixed by using a stop leak agent which can fix the current leaks and prevent future leaks, as well. However, if the leak comes up again, you will have to replace the relevant part with an equivalent replacement part. Before you proceed with fixing any leaks, consult with a professional mechanic on what can be done about the leak. This can help you find a long-term solution for the issue. For any replacement power steering part, you can always look to BuyAutoParts.com, where you can get top-quality replacements at the right time at the right cost.
Power steering leak repair costs
Note: The cost to replace any auto part, including steering parts, will vary according to the year, make and model of your car.
If the power steering rack's seals are leaking fluid, it could be an expensive repair, since most seals repairs require disassembling parts in the rack. The cost to repair a power steering rack can fall somewhere between $600 and $1000, which includes both labor and part costs. [Related article: How much does a Steering Rack cost?] Generally, the cost to repair a power steering pump can be around $200, which includes the labor and part costs.
If you are a DIYer, you will only need to bear the cost of the replacement part. To help DIYers and auto enthusiasts accomplish their tasks in a streamlined manner, we have repair and maintenance articles written by our experts in our how-to section.