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Power steering leak repair questions

2187 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  ImperialCrown
My 98 G. Caravan AWD has been leaking ps fluid for a couple months. Looking at it, it's hard to tell where it's coming from - return hose, pressure hose or pump and reservoir. Also, access is horrendous. With 243K miles on it should I just bite the bullet and order all the parts? What's the best way to access the parts - I don't want to mess with the exhaust and break bolts!
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I'd try to ID where the problem is specifically coming from (rather than buy all new parts). Don't rule out the internal seals in the steering rack. You will see wetness around the bellows that encompass the steering rack and the inner tie rods. If either boot has fluid in it, your rack is shot.

The common leak locations that I have experienced most often are from the high pressure PS hose and the rack. If the PS return hose (low pressure) has end clamps, check these for tighness and the hose for any cracking at the transition point from rubber to steel tubing.
It would be real nice to not have to replace the pump. After work tomorrow I'll get it on the ramps to check it out. All I remember is that it 's difficult to get anywhere near any of the PS components. The steering works well, usually doesn't lose much fluid and doesn't take much to top off. It's sure making a mess of the undercarriage.
Good advice from John. It's limited as to where leaks will occur under normal circumstances and John pinpointed them very well.
When everything is wet with oil/fluid, you have to degrease the area to identify the leak point.
Fluid will tend to leak down (gravity) and back (road draft) from the leak point.
Behind the engine is a lot of wind turbulence that makes fluid go everywhere.
I have had times when it is difficult to isolate the exact source of an engine compartment fluid leak. Last time I had to isolate an engine oil leak on a Dodge Neon. I used degreaser and then hot, power wash to get the entire underneath area of engine compartment squeaky clean. This included oil pan, engine mounts, front suspension members, steering rack, front crankshaft seal area, power steering pump.

Then run short errands or drive about 5 miles in the vehicle and keep speed under 30 mph if possible. This minimizes the effect of wind turbulence carrying leaking fluid from one area onto another area. Then place front end on ramps. If leak does not appear repeat driving procedure until you start to see a trace.

You can attach paper towels to end of dowel rods or stiff pieces of wire and insert the toweled end into those difficult to reach areas. If there is no leak the towel will stay dry and clean. And if there is a point source of the leak, the paper towel will readily absorb the fluid and show a stain. This procedure has worked for me.
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the P/S pump was very labor intensive for me when I replaced mine a few months ago I had a pretty sizable leak coming from the lower puller side of the pump so you can check there :)
Cleaned it up the best I could using simple green automotive type cleaner and the hose. I no longer have a pressure washer and it would be difficult getting under there with a long wand. Do they make flexible wands? Anyway, so far it looks like the pump is the culprit. What's shop time for this repair? Parts should be under a hundred but labor? I can't fit it in the schedule in next two weeks and I need it running. Plus I have a 12 hour round trip planned for it on the fifteenth!!
Professional mechanics will probably go faster and I probably did it a very weird way because I wasnt able to remove the driveshafts, but I had to remove the entire engine intake, engine cowl, alternator, tensioner and the bracket the pump is mounted on then finally remove the driveshaft pulley so I could pull the pump out of the right wheel well. it took me about 16 hours of labor to do from start to finish
Standard procedure is to drop it out the bottom. It is tight and can be messy.
A P/S pulley puller is probably needed as most reman pumps don't come with a pulley. Give yourself a gentle afternoon for the first one.
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