How to Spot a Rack and Pinion Leak

rack and pinion leakMost vehicles today, either trucks or cars, are equipped with rack and pinion style steering systems.  Older vehicles had a steering gear setup that included a pitman arm that would swing as the steering wheel was turned and a complicated set of arms and linkages that extend to the wheels.  A rack and pinion setup has fewer joints to go bad and can be located in many different locations on your vehicle. A rack and pinion leak is also relatively easy to spot as the possible leak locations are relatively few.

Possible Rack and Pinion Leak Locations

  • High-Pressure line
  • Steering column input
  • Output seals

High-Pressure Line

Your power steering rack gets its power from your power steering pump and the pressurized fluid it pumps down through the high-pressure line.  If this line isn’t properly attached to the rack and pinion or is damaged it can start to leak due to the extremely high fluid pressures. If you’ve got a leak from the high-pressure line, then the only thing you can do is replace the line to stop the leak.  Usually, these lines aren’t too expensive, but they can be a challenge to install due to their location so it may be a good idea to take it to a mechanic.

Steering Column Input

Your steering wheel is attached to a steering column which rotates as you turn the steering wheel.  This column connects to the rack and pinion and is what causes it to turn your wheels. There is a seal around the input shaft here that keeps the high-pressure power steering fluid contained even as the steering column rotates.  This seal can wear out over time from use, or from dirty power steering fluid. Unfortunately, you usually cannot replace this seal so your only options are to replace the entire power steering rack or to use BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak to restore the seal to stop the leak.

Output Seals

Your rack and pinion takes the rotational motion of your steering wheel and turns it into linear motion of the rams which move the tie rod and consequently turn your wheels.  The rams on either side of your steering rack are the most prone to leakage as the seals have to seal linear motion rather than rotational motion. These rams have accordion style boots over them to seal out dust and protect the ram and seal but it is not unusual for these seals to leak anyway.  If you notice fluid dripping from the ends of the accordion boot then you’ve most likely got a relatively large leak inside the boot at the output seal. Just like the input seal, the output seals can rarely be changed so stop your rack and pinion leak you either have to replace the whole rack or rejuvenate the seals in the rack you have.

BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak

 

 

 

 

 

You can find BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto Parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributor
  • DYK Automotive
  • Fisher Auto Parts stores
  • Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
  • Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
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  • Genuine Auto Parts stores
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  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
  • Any Part Auto Parts
  • Consumer Auto Parts

Pictures Provided By:

rack_and_pinion_leak.jpg – By Kadmy – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link

 

12 responses to “How to Spot a Rack and Pinion Leak

  1. I just had rack and pinion replaced. Never had a leak but I was told the the oil may be going into the boot, all was replaced , I never had a problem with leaking before the job was done , if I drive 1 mile – the oil is gone – less then minimum, pls tell me more or less what’s going on- I’ve put lots of money into my car- I’m startto doubt the mechanic, it’s a 2002 Kia Rio ,
    Thank you ,
    God bless

    1. Yvonne-

      Thank you for asking about your Kia Rio. Based on your description, being that the rack and pinion were replaced and all the leakage occurred after the replacement, it is likely there was an issue with the installation. If all of this work was just performed, you should be able to bring the vehicle back to the mechanic to check for loose hose connections or wear and tear on the hoses. It may also be a good idea to bring the vehicle to a different mechanic for a second opinion.

      Hope this helps!

      -BDP

    1. Danton-

      The BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak would be able to treat a leaking rack and pinion seal. You will start off by adding 1/3 of the bottle into your power steering reservoir, and drive the vehicle like your normally would. You should expect to see results after 100-200 miles of driving.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  2. I replaced the high pressure power steering hose on my 04 dodge ram 1500 because it was leaking, now it seems to be slowing leaking from the rack and pinion any suggestion? Thanks

    1. John-

      Thank you for asking about your Dodge Ram 1500. Based on your description, you would be a good candidate for the BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak. It is perfect for sealing leaking rack and pinion seals. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  3. I had a new power steering pump and high pressure line installed on my 2010 ml 350 a few months ago. I e had no problems but had to take it back a couple times to top the level of fluid. Then just today my wife started the car and all the fluid rushed out of the car onto the driveway. I’ve had no leaks that I’m aware of and I want your opinion of what’s happened here before I have it towed back to the mechanic. What would cause the fluid to immediately come out onto the driveway?

    1. Greg-

      A couple of possibilities as to why the power steering fluid would rush out like that would be if there was a loose hose connection, which more than likely would have been apparent pretty quickly with the loss of fluid. Another possibility is that the system was overfilled and that the pressure from the pump was so great that it forced the fluid out. We recommend having the mechanic take a look at it.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  4. My rack and pinion is dripping fluid. I have called mechanic shops and it is almost $900 to fix. Will Blue Devil stop leak fix the problem until I can afford to put it in the shop?

    1. Christy-

      Yes, the BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak would be able to seal a light drip coming from the rack and pinion. You would start off by adding 1/3 of the bottle into your power steering reservoir, and should expect to start seeing results after 100-200 miles of driving.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  5. I have a 2003 Toyota sienna I see very little fluid at the bottom of it yet when I drive it and the transmission shifts the whole front end goes to the left or right pointing to rack and pinion this is happening the last 300 miles—very loose steering off while I’m trying to drive a straight line—occurs as second gear shifts shifts the whole front of Van. Yet the power steering unit makes no noise at all? Pls advise.

    1. Judah-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Sienna. Was the vehicle in an accident recently? The issues you are describing with the vehicle having difficulty driving straight and shifting could be due to an alignment issue. If the power steering fluid appears to be low, try topping the system off with the appropriate amount of fluid and see if you can notice any difference. Typically, you would hear some type of whining or even a grinding noise when there is an issue with the power steering unit, such as a leak or loose assembly.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

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