Mechanics

STEERING FLUID LEAK

2006 Toyota Sienna • 6 cylinder 2WD Automatic • 63,350 miles

I noticed the rt. Side steering rack boot on my 2006 Toyota Sienna was oily and has splits. Power steering fluid level was slightly low. Mechanic says seal is leaking and entire rack has to be replaced. Naturally, the 60,0000 mile warranty ended about 3500 miles ago. Think there's any chance a Toyota dealer would take pity on me? I guess I should call just in case. Mechanic says the early failure could be due to a defective part, manufacture problem or perhaps some bad tire jars against curbs stressed the part. Could that last one really be a possible cause? Live in Florida so weather is often hot, there hasn't been much rain in the last couple of years and car is not garaged. Could seals have dried/shrunk that prematurely? Estimate to replace rack is over $1,000 which I can't afford right now. What are my short term options until I can? There is a large frame piece right below the boot, so unless I drive on a lot of dusty roads, the area seems fairly protected from road grime. The boot has splits but is basically intact. Leak is not leaving spots on my driveway, so seems to be slow. Perhaps it's only leaking when the car is running and steering is used? Could adding stop-leak fluid help? Other than running low on fluid, is there any danger in driving it? Can it affect tire wear or alignment? Any short term measure I could take to improve protection of the area from water dust and grime? Finally, is replacing the entire rack the only repair option, and is saving money with a remanufactured part a good option for a steering rack?
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Szentman
November 18, 2010.



You don't have a whole lot of options here beyond just shopping the price around but I don't always recommend going to the cheapest shop either. The risk you run not repairing it right away is that if you run it low on fluid, you could take out the pump also.
As far as the cause, that's hard to say. I would tend to blame driving habits more than anything else. If you are a driver that is in the habit of turning the wheels when the car is sitting totally still and not moving, that really strains the steering mechanism. Having the car rolling even a little bit takes a ton of stress off the rack.

Wrenchtech
Nov 18, 2010.
If I keep a close eye on the level and the leak remains slow, is there any reason I couldn't wait a couple of months to repair? -And could stop leak fluid possibly help keep the leak slow? I totally agree on using a good shop over cheap, which is why I'd rather wait until I can afford the estimate from one of the two garages I'm comfortable with. I see online that remanufactured racks are available, If the mechanic can save me some money by using a remanufactured rack, do those generally do well?

Tiny
Szentman
Nov 18, 2010.