How long can I drive with leaky rack and pinion ? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums

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Old 12-22-2007, 10:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How long can I drive with leaky rack and pinion ?

As you can see in this thread
What is this red fluid at exhaust Y joint?
a dealer declared that my OB 2000's rack and pinion unit is leaking its fluid. The leak is not very severe since the dealer's mechanic has to add a dye to identify where the leak is from. Although the dealer recommended replacement of the rack and pinion, a local independent mechanic recommended to drive as it is rather than replacing the unit immediately.

I would try a stop-leak additive as some members suggested. I would also monitor the fluid level often.

How long should I be able to drive my car in this condition? A few months, a year, or even a few years? Should I feel comfortable driving it for hundreds of miles from home? When should I decide to replace the unit?

How does the unit break at the end of life? Will I lose control of the wheels and it's very dangerous? Or is it like the power steering stops helping me to steer but I should still be able to turn the wheels? Will I have long enough period of bad noise before it completely dies?

One of the lubber covers was torn but the independent mechanic didn't suggest to replace that either. Is it OK? It's not as vital as the CV joint cover that needs replacement?
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Old 12-22-2007, 11:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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technically it is already at the end of its life, albeit prematurely. It all depends upon how you feel about leaks. Once it starts leaking bad enough that it gets on the exhaust system thats too much.

What will happen is that you might loose your power boost. the car will be harder to steer, but controlable. If you want a hint of what it feels like, go someplace mepty, get the car up to 10-20 mph, shut off the engine in neutral and steer the car someplace. This is generally a good thig to know anyway.

If it gets to the point where you have no boost in the morning, the rack is shot.

If you have to add fluid every day, thats shot. It just depends where your threshold is on the fluid.

You can get a used rack, if the additive doesn't work, they are fairly easy to install.

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Old 12-23-2007, 12:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default How Long

How long you can continue driving with the leaky rack is anyone's guess. Sounds like your mechanic has already given you a plan. Just stick with him through his plan. Eventually, he will sort it out for you.

How long can you tolerate a drip puddle under your car, on your favorite driveways, not to mention the blow back mess it will create underneath the car to the rear bumper?

I would say indefinitely as long as you frequently check the leak rate, and reservoir level.

I am an advocate of giving it some time to seat in, like your mechanic suggested. Maybe there is some sort of possibility this will happen and magically repair itself. (PFM)

Worse case scenario, it completely fails and you finally get it fixed. In the mean time, you can continue to nurse it.

Good luck!
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Old 12-23-2007, 05:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Like I said in the last note, I have a leaky one on a Volvo and it has been going for five years and almost 100,000 miles so far. Just keep up with the fluid and replace the rack when replacing fluid begins to take too much time away from what you want to do with your life. Many cars go to the junkyard with leaky power steering racks.
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you everybody for the reply.

So the death of the rack & pinion is a slow, gradual one with increased speed of the leak; it will not be a sudden death, as long as I monitor the fluid level regularly. Do I understand it correctly?
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by tk94110
Thank you everybody for the reply.

So the death of the rack & pinion is a slow, gradual one with increased speed of the leak; it will not be a sudden death, as long as I monitor the fluid level regularly. Do I understand it correctly?
For a subaru, yes, for a GM (or anyone else) it is completley different.


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