Power Steering Leaks

How to Fix a Power Steering Leak

Perhaps you discovered it because of the ugly oil stains under your car. Or maybe you’ve noticed that your steering wheel is becoming much harder to turn, especially if the car is stopped or driving slowly – like when you’re trying to navigate tight parking spots. Either way, you’ve got a problem: your power steering system is leaking.

How do you fix the problem? How much will it cost? What if you just ignore it? We have the answers.

Identifying a Power Steering Leak

Before you start trying to fix a power steering leak, you’d better first make sure that the power steering system is actually leaking. That puddle of oil may be from your power steering, but it could also be an engine oil leak, a transmission leak, or some other problem. There are rules of thumb about how to identify an oil leak based on color, but power steering fluid doesn’t really have a set color. And since it can leak out from several different parts located at different places in the engine compartment, a power steering leak can be difficult to diagnose.

Luckily, there is one sure-fire way to tell whether your power steering system is leaking: check the power steering fluid level. Some cars have a see-through power steering fluid reservoir, with lines marking whether it is full or low. Other cars a dipstick attached to the power steering cap, which is either labeled “power steering” or has a picture of a steering wheel on it. Either way, if the level is low, it’s leaking.

Now, identifying which part of the power steering system is leaking is another issue. To determine the exact location of the leak, you’ll likely need to add a fluorescent-colored leak finder to the power steering fluid. As the fluid leaks out, the bright fluorescent color will highlight where the leak is coming from. But it’s not always necessary, because there is a way to fix power steering leaks without where they are located. More on that later.

What Causes Power Steering Leaks?

Age and mileage, basically.

Power steering leaks are not uncommon on older cars, since seals and gaskets tend to dry and harden over time. A power steering system also has multiple parts – a pump, a rotary valve, a hydraulic cylinder or piston, and at least two different hoses or fluid lines – which means there are more opportunities for it to spring a leak.

Can I Just Ignore a Power Steering Leak?

Well, this is the steering system we’re talking about. You kind of need your steering system to work, so that you can, you know, not crash into things with your car.

Technically, when the power steering goes out you should still have manual steering control. But that means you have steering with no power – other than the power your own arms provide by cranking hard on the steering wheel. You have to literally provide the force needed to turn your front wheels, which can be difficult. If you’re trying to turn the tires while the car is stopped or traveling at a slow speed, it might be impossible. And since quick steering changes are harder to make at any speed, it’s not safe at all.

And there’s a problem with waiting to fix it, even temporarily: it can make it harder and more expensive to fix. Your power steering pump runs constantly, as long as the engine is running. If the power steering fluid level gets low, the increased friction and heat will quickly wear out the pump (and further damage those seals, turning a small leak into a big one). Time is not your friend here.

How to Fix a Power Steering Leak

One difficulty with trying to fix a power steering leak is knowing which part to fix. As mentioned, the power steering system is made up of several different parts, any of which could spring a leak.

Another problem is that most of those parts are fairly expensive to replace. The parts themselves are often a few hundred dollars each. And since they’re typically hard to get to and replace, the labor can cost almost as much as the parts.

That’s why the easiest and lowest-cost solution, by far, is to first try a leak sealer such as Power Steering Honey. Power Steering Honey is both a power steering fluid (to replace the fluid that’s already leaked out) and a leak stopper. It automatically seals most power steering leaks, no matter where they are located. It conditions old gaskets and seals to keep them soft and pliable, so they don’t harden, shrink, or crack (and therefore leak). It just costs a few dollars, and is really easy to use: just pour the bottle into the power steering reservoir until it is back to the “full” level on the dipstick.

You might be wondering: if Power Steering Honey seals most leaks, what if your car has one of those few leaks that it can’t seal? If a leak stopper is unable to seal a leak, it’s because the leak is too severe, and the leaking part needs to be repaired or replaced. That’s why Power Steering Honey also includes a fluorescent leak finder: if your power steering system is still leaking, or even if it develops a new leak years down the road, you (or a repair shop) will be able to quickly identify which part is leaking. That way there’s no guesswork, and no chance of accidentally spending money to replace the wrong part. (Hey, it happens. We’re not all geniuses.)

You can find Power Steering Honey in these stores or order it online.