Power Steering Fluid Leak: Causes, Symptoms, and Fixes

Cars are designed to run perfectly with the proper functioning of various components. Some of these components are powered by fluids which keep them lubricated to deliver their best performance on the road.

Maintaining the various components of a vehicle is important in order to avoid any malfunction. One of such malfunction is the power steering fluid leak. This can be a very serious problem because of its negative impact on a driver’s ability to turn the steering seamlessly.

To avoid the danger of being ignorant about the cause of a leak in a vehicle’s power steering, take some time and find out what’s responsible and how to fix the issue below.

What Causes a Power Steering Fluid Leak?

power steering leak symptoms

Vehicle components are designed to last different lifespans. The lifespan of the various components is subject to wear and tear. Due to wear and tear, there may be a need to replace some worn-out parts besides performing regular maintenance.

Therefore, if your car’s power steering fluid is leaking fast, it is most likely that the seals are suffering from natural wear and tear due to long-term usage. In some cases, the power steering can also be damaged by unfiltered, impure power steering fluid.

It is pretty easy to identify whether you have impure power steering fluid in your car’s steering system. The regular steering fluid is usually pink or red, and it can be clear in some cases. When the fluid is contaminated, its color will be altered to either black or brown.

So, overlooking the color of the fluid used in a car’s power steering system can also be detrimental to the system in the long run. Contaminated fluid shouldn’t be tolerated or used in your vehicle at any point in time.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Leaking Power Steering Fluid?

No matter what, safety must not be compromised when driving a car because a slight malfunction can sometimes be disastrous. Some malfunctions may not be apparent initially but can be dangerous in the long run.

So, concerning driving with a leaking power steering fluid, the symptom may continue and not alter the proper running of a vehicle. However, once a vehicle’s steering pump runs dry due to constant fluid leakage, it will hinder the process of turning the steering to corners (left or right).

If serious care is not taken in managing the difficulty in turning a faulty steering system due to a steering fluid leak, it can lead to an accident. So, in a nutshell, it is not safe to drive with a leaking power steering fluid.

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Symptoms Of Power Steering Fluid Leak

Identifying when there is a problem with a vehicle’s power steering fluid does not require professional knowledge. A vehicle’s power steering fluid leak symptoms are easily noticeable, and they include the following.

Fluid on the garage floor

When a vehicle’s steering system becomes faulty due to a fluid leak, you will always find fluid beneath the vehicle engine area on the floor of your garage. This occurrence will usually be noticed in the morning when you start the car to drive out.

So, ensure to check around your garage to see whether there are oil stains on the floor due to a power steering fluid leak when a car is off. This can be a sign that your car’s steering system is leaking fluid.

Ignition noise

Another common symptom of a leaking power steering fluid is its impact on the vehicle’s ignition process. When you experience a steering fluid leak, the steering pump will always squeal when the ignition is turned ON.

Sometimes, after the squeal, the dashboard warning light may be triggered. If you ever experience this occurrence, it is most likely you have a leaking power steering fluid.

Grinding or whining noise

A vehicle’s steering system is designed to work flawlessly without any noise when turning to the left or right. A malfunction in the system due to a fluid leak will alter this quietness.

When a vehicle’s steering leaks fluid constantly for a long time, the fluid level will reduce drastically and result in the steering system producing a whining or grinding sound when the steering is turned left or right.

Delayed steering wheel response

It can be frustrating when trying to make a U-turn, only to be stuck on the other side of the road, moving back and forth because of a stiff steering wheel. This delay in the steering wheel response is usually due to the leaking power steering pump.

Contact an expert mechanic to fix your car’s power steering problem immediately to avoid the dangers that may result from the difficulty in turning corners when driving.

power steering fluid leak rack and pinion

How To Fix Leaking Power Steering Fluid

As a reminder, waiting for too long before fixing a car’s steering fluid leak issue can cause severe damage in the long run. In some cases, a steering fluid leak may just require adjusting the steering system to normalize its operation—no wonder some problems escalate due to neglect.

And fixing a leaking power steering fluid that may not be easily rectified by a mere adjustment within the steering system will require the intervention of a professional auto mechanic.

With basic exposure, DIY enthusiasts may also be able to fix the problem. So, you may want to engage in the following procedure to fix the issue ASAP.

Flush/clean the power steering.

Debris or dirt may be responsible for the problem at hand. So, flushing or cleaning the power steering is the best way to get dirt or debris out of the system. This can take some minutes to a few hours to perform.

Replace worn-out parts

If you find loose nuts or worn-out parts like the hoses, the remedy is to tighten the loose nuts and replace any defective part that is no longer functional. Endeavor to get new hoses in case the old ones are not in good shape.

You may also need to check for defective caps that help to prevent fluid from spilling. If any, get a replacement for them also. Kindly replace the power steering fluid circuit if it requires a change.

Apply power steering stop leak

If you find any holes around the vehicle’s power steering system area, you may have to get a power steering stop leak product to fill the opening in order to prevent the leaks. In that case, you may need to find out how to use a power steering stop leak.

Not sure of doing all of these yourself? In that case, it would be best to contact a professional auto mechanic to do the job. You may have to slip this into your budget for this weekend or next week.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

Q: How much does it usually cost to fix a power steering leak?

Fixing a power steering leak does not cost a fortune; it will only take a few bucks to get it done. The estimated cost of fixing a steering leak is around $100 to $220. The total cost includes manual labor.

However, the estimated cost of fixing a steering leak stated above can be influenced by the repair location and the automotive personnel performing the operation.

Notwithstanding, a power steering fluid leak cost cannot be compared to the cost of fixing some other faults that may occur in a vehicle.

Q: How serious is a power steering fluid leak?

A power steering fluid leak is pretty serious and should be treated as a matter of urgency. The power steering fluid is essential to the proper functioning of a car’s power steering. Without it, the steering will not properly respond as it ought to.

If you are facing the challenge of a power steering fluid leak, turning your car’s steering will be difficult. This can delay turning from a straight road to a corner when driving. When this occurs, an accident may be imminent.

So, if you have a power steering fluid leak, it would be best to contact a professional auto mechanic to fix it immediately; otherwise, you may be risking your safety and that of your car.

Q: How long can you drive with a leaking power steering fluid?

Power steering failure is a result of a leaking power steering fluid. This may not occur immediately after a steering fluid leak is discovered; hence, driving with a leaking power steering fluid is possible.

However, would you rather risk your life to an imminent fatal accident due to a power steering fluid leak or get it fixed immediately? Most times, mechanical or technical problems can be managed in a car, but it does not always end well.

So, if you suspect a leaking power steering fluid in your car, drive straight to see a professional auto mechanic. After checking what may be wrong, ensure to fix the problem ASAP!

Q: Is the power steering worth fixing?

If you are asking, “Is power steering worth fixing?” maybe the question should be this way, “would you prefer to fix a faulty power steering or risk an unexpected accident?”

Undoubtedly, a vehicle’s steering partly decides the destination of the driver. So, joking about a car’s power steering fault is like joking about an imminent crash. The outcome can be very disastrous.

If you have a faulty or leaking power steering fluid, you should do everything possible to schedule a time-out with a professional auto mechanic to get it fixed. It will only cost a few dollars.

Q: Is the power steering stop leak any good?

Sure, power steering stop leaks are great in helping to curb issues with a leaking power steering fluid. However, they are meant to work best on tiny holes. In that case, if you have a large hole to fill, it will require more quantity of power steering stop leaks.

The power steering fluid leak stop products do great justice to leaking power steering fluid; hence, it is the way some car owners fix their vehicle’s power steering leak issues.

You may want to find out how much it costs to get a container of power steering stop leak to apply it on the leaking areas of your car’s power steering.

Q: Is it easy to fix a power steering leak?

Repairing or fixing a leaking power steering fluid is not rocket science. The process is pretty easy, fast, and cost-effective. DIY enthusiasts will find repairing their vehicles’ faulty power steering more interesting than those trying for the first time.

So, if you are a DIYer, fixing your car’s leaking power steering will not take the whole day. With the right tools and equipment, you can get it done within a short period.

Meanwhile, if you are not a DIYer or you are not sure of fixing the issue by yourself, kindly contact an expert auto mechanic to do the job. It will require spending a few bucks on the repair, so you may have to include that in your budget.

Q: Can I mix old and new power steering fluid?

Mixing different brands of old and new power steering fluid when topping up the fluid content is not a bad idea; however, you must ensure that it is the appropriate type of fluid for the car.

So, whether you have an old or a new fluid stored up somewhere or one you just bought is not an issue. Simply ensure that the fluid type does not differ from the one prescribed by your vehicle’s manual.

If you are skeptical about the kind of fluid to be mixed, you may want to seek the advice of a professional auto mechanic.

Final Words

Power steering fluid leak is one mechanical issue you must not trivialize in a car. The outcome may be unnoticed for a while but can be disastrous in the long run. So, why not rectify such a problem before the worst happens?

Whereas a leaking power steering can be fixed quite easily if you know what to do. The causes, symptoms, and how to rectify the problem have been addressed in this article.

So, you must not take this kind of problem for granted or with levity. It would be best to tackle it initially after discovering the issue instead of waiting until the defect has escalated. Remember, it is usually easier and cheaper to fix problems at the early stage.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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