If you are experiencing a power steering fluid leak, it is important to determine the cause and take the appropriate steps to fix it. There are several potential causes of a power steering fluid leak, from a faulty hose to a worn-out seal.
By the end of this article, you will understand:
- What the most common causes of power steering fluid leaks are
- How to identify them
- What action you can take to fix a power steering fluid leak
Let’s get started!
What Causes A Power Steering Fluid Leak?
We have highlighted some of the common symptoms of steering wheel fluid leakage above. Now it’s time to answer the question, “why is my power steering fluid leaking?” Well, the answer could be any of the following:
Leaking Power Steering Pump
The power steering pump is an important component in the steering wheel. It is responsible for transferring fluid into the rack and pinion suspension system. The rack and pinion are responsible for the movement of the car wheels. It also helps control the pressure to ensure the steering wheel moves easily without much force.
When the seal of the pump that covers the pump shaft is worn-out, it makes the power steering fluid leak. Also, the pump itself can accidentally break its casing if the joint gasket is too loose or old. Over time, the fluid can leak from there.
How to Fix
To fix leakages due to the steering wheel pump, you have to replace it with a new one. The safest way to do this is to book an appointment at a local garage.
Leaking Power Steering Hoses
If you want to check for steering fluid leaks, the power steering hose is the first place to look. There are two hoses, the pressure and return hose. The pressure hose links the steering box to the steering pump, while the return hose links the gearbox to the reservoir.
The hose can crack due to a worn or loose seal. And this can lead to a disconnection between the steering component and the hose, allowing fluids to leak out.
How to Fix
You can fix this leakage by tightening the loose seal or using Teflon tape around the thread but ensuring it does not enter the system. If the hose itself is leaking, it is best to replace the entire thing.
Overfilled Power Steering Fluid Reservoir
Overfilling the power steering wheel reservoir can blow up the seal in the rack due to excessive pressure in the reservoir. This usually occurs when you fill the reservoir beyond the maximum line.
How to Fix
When you notice that your reservoir is overfilled, use a turkey baster or syringe to siphon the excess fluid from the reservoir.
Power Steering Rack
The power steering rack is also called the rack and pinion steering rack. It is responsible for turning your vehicle’s wheels. The leakage occurs due to wear and tear of the shaft and seals caused by constant road grime and dirt.
How to Fix
Unfortunately, the best course of action is to replace the power steering rack if there is an issue. You can opt for a remanufactured steering rack which is more cost efficient and environmentally friendly, but always seek the opinion of a qualified mechanic before making the decision.
Using The Wrong Type Of Power Steering Fluid
Every car manufacturer specifies the power steering fluid that should be used for their cars. Using the wrong type can damage the power steering system. More than that, it can cause wear and tear to the power steering components, thus creating a leak. Always ensure that you use the power steering fluid that is specified for your vehicle.
How to Fix
You must change the fluid immediately. You should completely drain the fluid and replace it with the correct type before driving any further. This will avoid further damage. Consult your vehicle handbook to find the right fluid used for your car.
How To Detect A Power Steering Fluid Leak
The first rule of safety is prevention. Finding the problem before it can get worse is the most important thing. Fortunately, the symptoms of a power steering leak are easy to spot. If you notice any of the following, it is likely that your vehicle has a power steering fluid leak.
Fluid On The Garage Floor or Driveway
When you see pinkish or reddish droplets of fluid below your engine, it means your power steering fluid is leaking. You will notice this when the car is parked for a while, especially the first time you move it every day.
So, make sure to look under your car once in a while to make sure you spot a leak early and get it fixed before it becomes a serious problem (more on that later).
Another way to identify leakages of power steering fluid is the sound from the ignition. If you hear a squealing sound from the steering pump when you turn your car on, there is a power steering fluid leak.
The squealing sound may be accompanied by a dashboard warning light, like the one below:
Grinding Or Whining Noise
All cars are designed to provide maximum comfort with zero noise from the vehicle’s components. If you start hearing noises from the steering system while turning left or right, that’s an indication of fluid leaks.
The grinding and whining sound occurs due to friction. Power steering fluid lubricates the steering wheel, making it easier to turn. If it is leaking out, you will hear the noise.
Stiffness Of The Steering Wheel
Another symptom of steering wheel fluid leakage is the stiffness of the wheels. Power steering fluid makes it easy to make a U-turn or turn a corner. Any stiffness or delay in this response can be a frustrating experience and is usually a sign of a leak.
What’s more, stiffness in the wheels can be risky and dangerous, especially when you need to make a sudden turn.
If you notice any of the above, you need to visit a qualified mechanic to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. You can also book a free visual inspection, so you know you’re getting the best possible care for your vehicle. Just enter your registration number and postcode to see which local garages near you are available to carry out your free visual inspection.
Book online today!
What Are The Effects Of A Power Steering Fluid Leak?
Driving without power steering fluid is not recommended. It can damage your vehicle which can lead to hefty repair costs. Leaks can result in a reduction in pressure, which will result in pumps and other components wearing out. This will cause your power steering to stop working. Turning will be much more difficult, if not impossible, and could result in an accident. As soon as you discover that you have a leak, you should take it to a mechanic to get the issue fixed.
The fluids we put in our car are not the most environmentally friendly – if your car is parked near wildlife, your power steering fluid could be harmful to the environment. It is hazardous to plants and animals and can contaminate the air, water, and ground. Ensure any fluid that you have found has been cleaned up to the best of your abilities to avoid any environmental damage.
Can I Mix Old And New Power Steering Fluid?
If you finish a bottle of power steering fluid and need more to complete the refill, you might think you need to have the exact same brand and bottle to finish the job. Don’t worry, you can mix old and new – if it is the correct one for your car.
You can find out which fluid type you need in your vehicle’s owner manual. Always follow the advice of your vehicle’s manufacturer, and if you are ever unsure about the specifications of the fluids you put in your vehicle, contact a professional for a trusted opinion.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Power Steering Leak?
On average, it costs between £77 and £170 to fix your power steering leak, including the labour costs.
However, it can cost far more than this to fix your problem. Some factors that affect the price are where you live and the garage you choose to fix your power steering leak. To find the best deal in your area, enter your vehicle reg and postcode into BookMyGarage and compare labour costs. You can also filter by availability, distance and reviews and ratings to find the perfect garage for you. That way, you always pay the best price for your repair. Join over 5 million UK drivers that have compared and saved on MOT, servicing and repair costs today!
You should never compromise on the safety of your vehicle. That’s why you need to stay on top of your maintenance and inspect your car regularly. Follow our inspection checklist for best results.
Most importantly, you should always act fast if you notice a problem. Ignoring a power steering fault can lead to an expensive repair or breakdown in the long run – or something even worse!
If you recognise any of the symptoms covered in this article, you should book an inspection at a local garage as soon as possible to get the problem fixed. The longer you leave a power steering fluid leak, the worse it will get. Compare and save through BookMyGarage today!
Book online today!
You can read more of Ryan's articles on his website, oilsadvisor.com