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Power steering leak - Mechanic suggests Rack and pinion?

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Old 02-12-08, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default Power steering leak - Mechanic suggests Rack and pinion?

I just read the sticky on the 'power steering problems' and now I'm sort of questioning what the mechanic did.

He said there was a slight leak/problem in the power steering (I did not notice it while driving the car) but I take him at his word there.

He said he was putting in a new Rack and Pinion to solve the problem.

This seems almost unrelated to the issue. I trust the mechanic, but I wonder what has led him to the Rack and Pinion for this issue. ( I know my description of the issue is vague, but that is because I haven't experienced it driving, and have only been told what I told you about it).

So I guess I am asking, what would replacing a Rack and Pinion do for a Power steering problem/leak etc?

1994 LS 400

He also mentioned the leak was slight and was not dropping into the alternator (He said he has done his reading and knows of common problems with this car.. so apparently he has been on the internet and read some of these LS 400 guides)


*Edit: Also after obtaining the car in the next few days,.. Should I simply keep a close eye on the PS fluid for potential unresolved problems? -- If fluid level stays the same, everything should be ok? **

Thanks,
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Old 02-12-08, 05:41 PM   #2
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the rack is known to go bad as well but its is a somewhat less common problem than the rack and hose.
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Old 02-12-08, 06:35 PM   #3
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Interesting. I had a mechanic look at car and he said the rack was leaking "slightly".

I had another mechanic look at car and he said the rack was "bone dry".

He did say he saw a small leak out of something connected to the power steering pump.

So be careful on this one. I learned on this forum it's best to "plug up" power steering control valve first, then see if that fixes your leak. Do a search.

It could save you a grand. Worth a try. Maybe you should take the car to another mechanic to get a second opinion.
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Old 02-12-08, 07:03 PM   #4
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Interesting. I had a mechanic look at car and he said the rack was leaking "slightly".

I had another mechanic look at car and he said the rack was "bone dry".

He did say he saw a small leak out of something connected to the power steering pump.

So be careful on this one. I learned on this forum it's best to "plug up" power steering control valve first, then see if that fixes your leak. Do a search.

It could save you a grand. Worth a try. Maybe you should take the car to another mechanic to get a second opinion.

Well the rack and pinion (new) is already in. It was part of the deal in buying this car. (I am buying it from this ASE Master mechanic). So when I mention this stuff it is 'free' fixes.

So whether that fixed the problem or not, it is done, and I didn't pay for it.

I just asking because I'd like to know how to check in the coming weeks to see if there is, indeed, still a problem or if it is fixed!

Which is why I asked could it be as simple as checking the PS fluid every day, and if it goes down in the next 2 weeks, to go back to him and let him know. (He said he would do whatever it took to get the PS problem fixed.. if the rack and pinion didn't do it, he'd go to the next step) -- Though he, for some reason, had narrowed it down to replacing the rack and pinion as the most likely way to fix the problem.

That seems like killing a fly with a sledgehammer -- As the rack and pinion would seem more difficult than replacing a hose/valve/pump. Though he said the rack and pinion was very easy to replace in this car.

Puredrifter said that the rack is known to go bad but is less likely than the rack and the hose? What do you mean there? You mentioned the rack in both parts of that statement.

You say plug up the power steering valve first. Ok, but I suppose the point I am getting to is:

Can I not simply tell right off the bat (in the following weeks) by monitoring the level of Power Steering fluid?

If the fluid stays topped off, then there is no leak, anywhere.. In the rack, the pump, going into the engine from valve/hose etc -- Right? Wouldn't that be the easiest way to determine if a problem still exists?

Then if the fluid is dropping, I perhaps plug the valve and then monitor (while bringing it back to the mechanic and letting him know the fluid is still dropping).

Thanks
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Old 02-12-08, 07:14 PM   #5
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Well, the expensive parts of the PS system are:

1) Rack & Pinion. These are common to leak with age on our cars, and on most any car. I've replaced it on my old GS300, Civic. When I bought my LS it had what seemed to be a brand new rack and pinion installed. Usually if rack and pinion starts leaking, the problem escalates fast, as its high pressure, and it goes from minor leak to major leak in matter of days.

2) High pressure line. Expensive to fix, but not very common to fail. When it fails, the problem is evident right away.

3) PS pump. This one will eventually fail. There are rebuild kits - check lexls.com for tutorial.

Essential part of keeping the PS system healthy, is to use the right fluid, always keep the fluid at the recommended level, never allow air bubles in the system, and flush the fluid if it appears dirty.

But there are also simple things in the system, such as hoses that sometimes go bad, and the notorious air control valve on the bottom of the power steering pump that goes bad and causes all kinds of problems - slowly leaking or disappearing fluid, low idle, jumpy acceleration, smoke from exaust and build up in the intake manifold. Have it checked out.
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Old 02-12-08, 07:34 PM   #6
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Och,

Thanks for that informative reply. I appreciate it.

However it is technically being checked out.. so hopefully everything is just fine.. I just want to know what to look for to 'make sure' it is fine.

No one has answered the question,.. "If my Power Steering fluid stays full all the time then everything is fixed?"

I have no need to bring it to another mechanic if this one says he fixed it. I just want to know if I can just pop the lid on my PS fluid and keep an eye on it daily. If it stays full, no problems.. If it drops at any rate, still a problem somewhere -- so have it checked then.

I don't see, logically, why what I am asking wouldn't be the best approach, but you never know -- There could be some problem that I could have that could be damaging my PS system and the fluid stay completely full. Though it seems any problem generally manifests itself by some sort of PS fluid level dropping,.. therefore that would be the easiest manner to keep the proverbial eye on the system.

I believe I mentioned this, but to drive the car, even when he had not done the rack and pinion, I could not tell anything was wrong with the power steering. No noises at all, no odd sensations in the steering, etc. This is a large reason I want to know if I can simply watch the fluid level , because the problem wasn't 'obvious' to me.

Again, thanks for the heirarchy of problems with the PS. At least I know the Rack and Pinion is new, and from there it might be a pump or a HP line. The line is rare to go, and is the expensive part -- The pump is somewhat expensive but has a definite fix. (He mentioned he would put a new PS pump on if the Rack and pinion didn't fix it) -- Any tell tale signs of a bad PS pump to keep an eye and ear out for? I'll ask him if he replaced the pump, which I doubt, and then if not, if the pump has ever been replaced.

Someone said this would be a 1000$ repair. So a new power steering pump costs me a grand? I'll rebuild it if that becomes the issue.. But for now I won't delve into 'what-ifs' too much. Hopefully all is well, but with the miles on the car if the pump is stock I will need to be prepared on the best manner in which to fix/rebuild/replace the pump that is the most cost effective.

I think I read somewhere someone replaced their pump 3 times with an autozone pump and they were all bad. Then they used an expensive lexus OEM part and it worked first time. (Seems odd to me, but you never know.. maybe there is a middle ground between Cheap autozone parts and expensive Dealership parts).

Take care,
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Old 02-12-08, 07:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Neofate View Post
Och,

Thanks for that informative reply. I appreciate it.

However it is technically being checked out.. so hopefully everything is just fine.. I just want to know what to look for to 'make sure' it is fine.

No one has answered the question,.. "If my Power Steering fluid stays full all the time then everything is fixed?"
Most likely yes, as long as the fluid stays at the proper level and your steering wheel feel fine, with no "skips", and you dont hear any funny squeeling noises when you turn the wheel. Also, when you turn the steering wheel all the way to the left or to the right, if you have any leaks, it will leak faster, so you can test it by turning the wheel all the way to one side, hold it for a few minutes and check under the car if you dropped any fluid.

And if you lose PS fluid but do not see any leaks, its most likely the PS air control valve - simple, inexpensive fix.

Other than that, I wouldn't worry about "ifs", "whens" and "whats". Some day something will fail as with any car. As far as parts, try to stick to OEM stuff, or if you're buying non-oem parts, try to stick with reputable vendors such as Autozone, Rock-auto, and other major suppliers that provide some kind of warranty. Stay away from cheap ebay stuff and such.
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Old 02-12-08, 08:03 PM   #8
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Good stuff -- exactly what I needed.

Is this myth or fact: I've always heard that holding the wheel all the way to left or right with PS (for any long duration of time) is putting unnecessary strain on the system and should not be done. Is this the case?

I understand if you are just doing it to test for leaks, but that really true now adays?

Thanks,
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Old 02-12-08, 08:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Neofate View Post
Good stuff -- exactly what I needed.

Is this myth or fact: I've always heard that holding the wheel all the way to left or right with PS (for any long duration of time) is putting unnecessary strain on the system and should not be done. Is this the case?

I understand if you are just doing it to test for leaks, but that really true now adays?

Thanks,
Well, it does put stress on the rack and the rest of the system, so yeah, don't make a habit of doing it, but it's fine for just testing for leaks.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:12 AM   #10
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Most likely yes, as long as the fluid stays at the proper level and your steering wheel feel fine, with no "skips", and you dont hear any funny squeeling noises when you turn the wheel. Also, when you turn the steering wheel all the way to the left or to the right, if you have any leaks, it will leak faster, so you can test it by turning the wheel all the way to one side, hold it for a few minutes and check under the car if you dropped any fluid.

And if you lose PS fluid but do not see any leaks, its most likely the PS air control valve - simple, inexpensive fix.
.
Exactly what is happening to mine. The mechanic says there is a leak in the "Rack and pinion." The dealer has replaced the power steering pump on my car at 70k, and the car has 117k now. THere is slight seepage that is making the drivers side CV boot a bit wet.

There is no sounds. I topped off the power steering fluid and it is still at top level.

I am thinking it is a seal or as you say PS air control valve (how much to fix this?

No leak on the ground, as garage floor is clean.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:46 AM   #11
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its not the air control valve, the car would be spewing white smoke on startup if it where.

more likely a seal on the rack is gone, id leave it until/unless the rack goes completely
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Old 07-23-08, 10:48 AM   #12
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its not the air control valve, the car would be spewing white smoke on startup if it where.

more likely a seal on the rack is gone, id leave it until/unless the rack goes completely
I am thinking seal too.

So question for you:
1) Just leave it alone and pour power steering fluid (IF necessary?) and eventually fix it?
2) Won't it kill the alternator?

I will have your boy Steve give me his recommendation tomorrow, since car is going in anyways.

How much time may there be for the "rack" to go completely? I was thinking of doing the preventative maint.

Also no smoke on startup.

You in Uk now? What kinda vacation is this if you are always posting?
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Old 07-23-08, 11:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanSC300lover View Post
I am thinking seal too.

So question for you:
1) Just leave it alone and pour power steering fluid (IF necessary?) and eventually fix it?
2) Won't it kill the alternator?

I will have your boy Steve give me his recommendation tomorrow, since car is going in anyways.

How much time may there be for the "rack" to go completely? I was thinking of doing the preventative maint.

Also no smoke on startup.

You in Uk now? What kinda vacation is this if you are always posting?
im jetlagged to hell and heading out daily starting tomorrow.....

1-yes, though you might wanna try some lucas power steering fix, its good for small leaks.
2-no, only pump or pump-side hose failures lead to alternator failures since the fluid drips down directly onto it. if ur alternator is dry and gunk-free, you're good
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Old 07-23-08, 11:24 AM   #14
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im jetlagged to hell and heading out daily starting tomorrow.....

1-yes, though you might wanna try some lucas power steering fix, its good for small leaks.
2-no, only pump or pump-side hose failures lead to alternator failures since the fluid drips down directly onto it. if ur alternator is dry and gunk-free, you're good
I will check the alternator tomorrow, it isn't leaking on it, since pump is pretty new. Thanks!

I hate the word "lucas" since I have a few British cars in the garage Ok will find some lucas power steering fix.
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Old 07-23-08, 11:49 AM   #15
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I will check the alternator tomorrow, it isn't leaking on it, since pump is pretty new. Thanks!

I hate the word "lucas" since I have a few British cars in the garage Ok will find some lucas power steering fix.
Lucas will work on a small leak use a baster to remove fluid from pump and fill it with Lucas drive car for a few weeks and do the same again.
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Old 07-23-08, 11:49 AM
 
 
 
 
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