– The role of oil in the power steering
– The origin of power steering oil leaks
– Power steering maintenance
A car needs different fluids (engine oil, gear oil, coolant…) to run. The flip side of the coin is the waterproofing problems revealed by unsightly stains on your beautiful paved driveway. In these possible leaks, one of them can attract your attention by its often reddish color and the fluidity of the oil deposited: it is most likely a power steering oil leak. Let’s see what it is due to!
The role of oil in the power steering
Today, all passenger vehicles have power steering as standard: a hydraulic device that powers a jack to operate the steering rack when you move the steering wheel.
The pressure is applied (around 100 bar) either by a belt-driven steering pump or an electric pressure pump.
Note: There is also an all-electric system without hydraulics.
Type of oil
It’s the same oil as the automatic transmission; it’s called ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) Dexron. Different versions correspond to its chronological evolution (from Dexron I to the latest Dexron VI evolution). The particularity is its red color.
Note: another mineral liquid is used more rarely by Citroën and VAG; its color is green, and it is not miscible with Dexron oil.
The origin of power steering oil leaks
The sources of leaks are numerous; let’s detail them below:
This leakage is relatively common, and there is always more or less seepage on this organ; if the leakage is significant, the rack should be replaced.
Remark: the jack is sometimes outside the rack, and it is then detailed as a spare part.
Leakage of the steering pump
It too often shows minor oozing; in the event of a more extensive leak, it should be replaced.
Leaking hoses and fittings
Pump and rack are connected by high-pressure hoses fixed employing “banjo” connections (= fixing ends ending in an eyelet set on the organ using a hollow screw; a copper gasket ensures the sealing on each side of the eyelet).
In the event of leakage on the fittings, the seals need only be replaced.
A leak on a hose is often due to friction in the engine environment; the solution is to replace the hose or have it repaired by a specialized workshop (industrial workshop or heavy goods vehicle).
Power steering maintenance
Replacement of parts does not pose any particular problems, other than the lack of accessibility.
Some practical advice:
– In case of replacement of the rack, it is necessary to adjust the parallelism;
– Carefully study the hoses’ routing and protect them with an additional sheath in places that may cause friction.
Oil Filling Procedure: Gradually fill the steering pump reservoir with the engine running, steering the right and left stop.
The financial cost
The financial costs of power steering leaks (removal and installation labor) are not mentioned below, as the time required varies from one vehicle to another.
Origin of the leak
Work to be carried out
Cost of the work
Copper gaskets to be replaced
$1 max per joint
Do-it-yourself store, automotive professionals
from $50 to $250.
Original or adaptable parts
The operation consists of replacing the hose and crimping it onto the connector fittings recovered from the defective hose.
From $20 to $150.
Workshop with a hose crimping bench.
$100 to $200
Original or adaptable
Rack and pinion
$150 to $1500
$180 to $500
$5 to $8 per liter
Petrol stations, car centers, garages…