How to Fix a Power Steering Leak

The power-steering system on your car operates under high pressure, making leaks a common problem. To find and fix a leak, you need to inspect several points between the steering pump and steering-gear assembly. On most steering systems, you can follow specific procedures to solve the problem.

Step 1 - Park your car in a safe place and open the hood.

Step 2 - Find the power steering system on your vehicle by following the part of the steering column assembly that goes through the firewall (the engine compartment wall on the windshield side of your car). Follow the components connected to the steering column all the way to the wheel assemblies and hoses connected to the power steering pump and reservoir.

Step 3 - Clean wet and dirty components around the steering system, using shop rags if the leak source is not readily apparent.

Step 4 - Start the engine, and rotate the steering wheel all the way from left to right several times to increase system pressure.

Step 5 - Turn off the engine and inspect the system from the engine compartment, using a flashlight if necessary. In some cases, you might have to wait a day or two for the leak to reveal itself.

Step 6 - Look for possible cracks around the power steering pump. If you find fluid around the pump case, the case is damaged and should be replaced. Some pumps are equipped with internal seals that may be replaced when necessary. Also, look around the reservoir and make sure it is in good condition; a cracked reservoir needs to be replaced as well.

Step 7 - Make sure the fittings around the hoses are tight. Tighten clamps using a Phillips screwdriver or ratchet and socket, depending on the type of fitting or clamp used in your system.

Step 8 - Check along the hoses for cuts. If possible, run your fingers along the length of the hose to find hidden wet spots. A hose leaking somewhere along the middle will have to be replaced. If the cut is close to the end of the hose, you might be able to cut off the damaged part and reconnect the hose to the component.

Step 9 - Check metal lines connecting the steering-gear assembly to other components. A ruptured metal line needs to be replaced.

Step 10 - Inspect the rubber boots between the ends of the steering-gear assembly and the arms linking the assembly to the wheels. If fluid is leaking at either end, seals at the ends of the steering-gear assembly will need to be replaced.

Raise the front end of the vehicle with a floor jack and support it on jack stands. Inspect the steering-gear assembly closely.

THINGS YOU'LL NEED: Shop rags, Flashlight, Phillips screwdriver, Ratchet and socket, Floor jack and two jack stands

WARNINGS: When replacing steering-system hoses, use a hose made to withstand the pressure in the system. Ask a mechanic for the appropriate steering-system components for your vehicle.

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