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Smelly Puddle Under My Car or Truck? How to Diagnose Power Steering Leak

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What the heck is that noise? Come on.

Now that the hood's up, we're just gonna take a look at our power steering system. The reason why I'm taking a look at the power steering system is because we heard the whine noise when you were steering, right? Every time you turn that steering wheel, what happens is the fluid gets low inside the reservoir. As the fluid's low like this, once it starts running, it gets sucked down even further, and it starts pulling air bubbles. Those air bubbles go down through these hoses and into your power steering pump, which is located right down here. When you have air mixing with the fluid inside the pump, it starts making that whine noise. It happens when you're turning and it also happens, you know, when you're accelerating or something like that.

So, we know that this reservoir's low. We're just gonna take a peek and see if we see any leaks up along the top here. I see nothing along these hoses up along the top, looking all the way down to as far as I can see. I'm even gonna take a look at this power steering pump and just make sure that there's no moisture around that. This looks great. Let's get under the vehicle. Oh yeah, come on. Look at this, fluid all over the place. Oh, man. Let's see. Oh, yeah. Well, here's the starting point, but let's go all the way over here. So, when we were up top, we were looking at these power steering hoses. And they're dry all the way coming to here, which is the power steering pump. Now, we're gonna take a peek right inside, right there. And you can see that this is dry as well. If your power steering pump seal had a leak, it would be coming down right behind here and potentially getting on the belt. All this looks dry. As you can tell, this is a mess right here, but that's more than likely because of this oil filter. You do an oil change, you don't pick up your mess, this is what you get. We'll follow those lines. This is your pressure line, comes over here. We've got a big drip there. And then over here, and another big drip there.

So what it looks like to me is this pressure line is rotted, obviously, and it's dripping, and then dripping down to the floor. Another place you can look is right behind this bellows boot. There's gonna be a rack seal in there. So what I would do is I would just take off this clamp, which is a single-time use, and then I would pull this boot back, and take a peek. Let's give it a try. Get that out of here. You should be able to take a peek right inside there. And you can see the seal where the rack goes through or the internal portion of the rack goes through there, through that seal. If it was leaking, you would have a lot of fluid come pouring out of right here.

So, what I would do is I would replace this line. We're gonna flush out the power steering system, make sure we got brand new fluid in there, and we'll give it a try after that.

First, we need to clean up our working area. Now that we have that drying, let's move along to the serpentine belt tensioner. Get the belt off the power steering pump pulley. We got our new power steering pressure line. You just wanna make sure you have the area for the sensor, assuming your line has it. Spray this area and spray that area.

Now, with the special removal tool, remove your pulley fully so we can get off this pressure line. On some applications, you may not have to remove the power steering pump pulley. Remove the fitting that holds the line to the pump. At this point, we're gonna come over and disconnect our sensor and any brackets you might have that are holding it still. Now that have this loose, I'm gonna continue taking this off, and then we'll drain it into our collection receptacle. There we go. So now, I'm just gonna wiggle the line and I can see right where it connects into the rack. I'm gonna clean that area off to make sure there's no debris that can get into power steering system. Remove the line from the power steering rack. There it is, friends.

Take a closer look. Make sure your parts are the same. If you're missing any brackets or sensors, make sure you swap them over. When you swap over the sensor, make sure you replace the O-ring. Snug it up. Get this reinstalled. Carefully slide this in so you don't get any debris inside the line. Make sure you get your gasket on there, coat it with some power steering fluid and then put it into the rack.

Next, you just wanna torque that to manufacturer's specifications. I have a limited area, so I'm just gonna bottom it out and then give it a teeny bit more. Make sure that the pump's clean where the line's gonna go in and your new line has a new neoprene gasket on it. Get the line started into the pump and bottom it out. It's pretty much bottomed out. You just torque that to manufacturer's specifications. To torque this, you would just use a crowsfoot with an extension and, of course, your torque wrench. Make sure you reconnect your sensor. A little bit of parts cleaner, clean up the general area. It's gonna be easier to do now rather than when the pulley's back on. Clean up the shaft area on the pump where pulley's gonna mount. Clean and reinstall your power steering pulley. A special tool, use that as well. You can see that the shaft is level with the pulley. Get the belt back on. Double check your belt routing. Clean up the area so we can double check for leaks. Fill your power steering fluid with your manufacturer's specified fluid.

Now, before we start the vehicle, you need to get inside, put the key in the on position, and turn the wheel to the lock position, side to side several times. This is gonna push out the air in the system. Now, it's gonna be time to start the vehicle, but before that you need to make sure you keep your fluid handy because you're gonna keep adding. The fluid's gonna go down as it runs. Turn the wheel. Listen for noise.

Now, after running the vehicle for several minutes, we're gonna double check, make sure there's no air inside the system and also that our fluid level's perfect. Once we're sure of that, we can get back under it and check to make sure there's no leaks.

We're back under the vehicle and have a clear view of everything that's going on. Here's where our pressure line went into the pump, nice and dry. Down over here, all along the rack where the lines go in, nice and dry. This is looking great. Let's keep on going over. This is where we had the original leak, beautiful. This, right here, obviously not leaking. Our o-ring's working perfectly. This looks great. Let's take it for a road test.

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