Mechanics

RACK OIL LEAKING - HOW SERIOUS?

1991 Toyota Corolla

Steering problem
1991 Toyota Corolla 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 117579 miles

Hi,

My mech has told me the steering rack and the power steering pump are leaking oil.

I have been sceptical of this as there has been not a drop of oil on the garage floor and the power steering fluid hasn't gone down since I bought the vehicle a year ago.

(Also the rack is half covered by insurance, and he got a lower ball joint replaced saying it was completely shot, when there were no symptoms at all.) I played it safe with that one.

The steering itself has no play and is otherwise fine.

I have checked under the car myself and there IS a dark oil (nothing like the red DOT3 brake fluid that goes into the auto braking system).

This dark oil coats the rack near the pinion shaft to the concertina shoe and on the front oil pan below and to the front of the steering rack is ALMOST at the point of forming a drop from underneath.

I usually expect some oil coating elements beneath the engine. It looks like engine oil, but I'm no expert. Is this normal / nothing to worry about or something I should get repaired ASAP?

In the pic you can see where I have wiped the oil with my finger from the middle of the rack.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/443448_091204_Drivers_side_rack_to_concertina_show_IMG_7822_2.jpg

Avatar
Stude
December 3, 2009.



Hi there,

You pic did not post. Anyway, the power steering oil is the same as auto trans oil, it will be red and not as thick as engine oil, this darker oil will be engine oil, I would have the under side of the engine and suspension washed down and then re inspect for any fresh leaks in a few days, start here.

Mark (mhpautos)

Mhpautos
Dec 3, 2009.
Thanks mark for that, here, (hopefully) is the pic of the driver's side (RH) rack to the concertina.

NOTE on the pic, there is NO sign of redness in the oil, just BLACK.

Should some redness come through if the DOT 3 is leaking?

This is important I think. This is a very expensive call.

Uploading pic seemed to be a problem with Firefox 3.5.5 compatibility.

Tiny
Stude
Dec 3, 2009.
Hi there,

I would be confident that this is engine oil leaking from higher up, the wash down and re check should show this, if in doubt go get a second opinion from a different mechanic, we have be advised not to use fire fox to access this site as there are just to many problems,

let me know how you get on.

Mark.

Mhpautos
Dec 3, 2009.
Yes, I'll get a 2nd opinion now.

Just in general though, is the red tint in DOT 3 power steering and transmission fluid a form of tracer (or can be used as such)?

I.E. Does the red get through to the eye if there is a leak from the steering or transmission, as opposed to the clear black from engine oil?

Tiny
Stude
Dec 3, 2009.
Hi thee, the colour of the oil is a fast colour, I do presume it is dyed red for identification purposes, I am unsure as to why they make it red, I may have some thing to do with the properties that transmission oils have over general engine oils, engine oils turn black due to the greater amount of carbon residue deposited in the engine from the fuels used, remember as well transmission oil is more of a hydraulic high pressure oil and engine oil is a low pressure lubricant.

Mark (mhpautos)

Mhpautos
Dec 3, 2009.
Sounds like a high pressure steering / transmission leak might SPURT rather than just gently ooze slowly over months.

Hmmm.

And no RED colour is evident.

Tiny
Stude
Dec 3, 2009.