Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
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15-02-2017, 12:39 PM
Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
Or auto-savvy theists - just anybody auto-savvy, really. Hobo

So, took my car to the shop today because a check engine light was on. Found out the problem was a cracked hose which isn't gonna cost much to repair.

HOWEVER

They mentioned again to me (they'd mentioned this the last time I got my oil changed there) a leak in the power steering rack. Said it had gotten worse since the last time and would only continue to do so. Told me that the rack really needs replacing within the next two weeks - a repair to the tune of $1500, and that's with a non-Honda rack. Confused

They said something about when they squeeze the bellows, power steering fluid is coming out and they talked like that is a pretty bad sign. I of course have no idea. They could be telling me anything and I wouldn't know the difference, but what they're referring to here does seem to be backed up by some articles I read about that particular issue.

Anyway, the thing is that I haven't noticed any issues with my power steering. I haven't noticed puddles under the car, haven't had a hard time steering the car (I've driven a truck before whose power steering was bad / going out, and that thing was a bitch to turn, so I'd know if something like that was happening), so part of me is worrying that they're lying to me about the car having a problem. Of course at the same time, I don't want to ignore a big problem or let it get worse.

I pick up the car tonight from the shop (they are fixing the hose today), so I'm wondering what sounds I should be listening for or what I should be looking for?

I'm going to see if my brother will look at the car for me and see what he thinks (but I don't know if he knows anything about the power steering rack, so I'll have to check first) or else take the car somewhere for a second opinion.

I swear this damn car is gonna kill me. For $1500 I could get a kickass bicycle for everyone in the family. Hobo

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15-02-2017, 12:41 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
Oh, the car is a 2005 Honda Accord EX sedan (4 cyl) if that information is needed. Shy

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15-02-2017, 12:55 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
If it's still steering okay, the tie-rods are okay, and it's not making puddles, I wouldn't sweat it much.

I'd just keep an eye on the PS fluid level (maybe keep a bottle in the trunk) and drive it.
I wouldn't be too thrilled about throwing $1500 at an '05 Accord either.
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15-02-2017, 01:02 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
When your power steerting rack goes, you'll know it. I had a Chev Celebrity (hated that car but needed it for work) and they were infamous for power steering problems.

While I don't know the mechanics in question, it's unlikely that they're trying to mess with you. It's possible that they've just misdiagnosed something, especially since:
  1. There's no evidence of a leak underneath the car, and
  2. There's no stiffness in the steering.

My advice would simply be to do exactly what you've already mentioned: take it to another mechanic and have him/her look at it, then make your determination.
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15-02-2017, 01:12 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
Usually when you lose enough fluid from the system, it will start making a fairly loud whining noise that will get louder when you turn the wheel.
It's not unusual for a less-than-reputable mechanic to try to sell you something you don't need.
One clue is that when you take your car in for one repair, they 'discover' another much more serious problem that costs a lot.
If they find a new problem that is a cheap and easy fix, they're probably being honest with you.
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15-02-2017, 01:16 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
It may not be puddling under the care because power steering is under pressure, so it may be spraying under your care while you are driving and then not be an issue when the car is not running. And you wouldn't necessarily notice a problem with your power steering if it is because portions of the rack and/or hoses are starting to dry rot. Power steering fluid gets really hot and as a result, the high pressure hoses will start to deteriorate over time.

While it sucks, $1500 is probably not too bad considering parts and labor for replacing the rack. This would be unrelated to tie rods (your car probably doesn't have them anyways) too.

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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15-02-2017, 01:18 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
I was told once I needed a valve job on my car. Turned out when I brought it somewhere else they said it was a timing chain issue (which was far less expensive) and not the engine. 2nd opinions never hurt.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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15-02-2017, 01:18 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
You can always take it to another mechanic for their assessment too. Ask them what it would cost to put it on a lift and give an estimate for repairs to your power steering rack and pinion because you have been told it was bad. You might even frame it to the other mechanic as "I am thinking about selling the car and want to see if it is worth doing this fix before I sell it. Do you recommend it?"

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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15-02-2017, 01:22 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
You have no puddles under the car, because all the leaking oil is in the bellows. Once the bellows are full, the oil will leak out or burst the bellows.

Watch the oil level in your power steering oil (mostly plastic) reservoir. The oil in the bellows should be missing in the reservoir, or the mechanic refilled it. Keep some extra oil in your trunk as Pablo said. Watch the leak(age) for increase over time!

A leak is basically not dramatic, but usually it is not getting better but worse (usually teflon sealings or something like that). Usually its getting worse slowly. A sudden loss of power steering is not to be expected.

However you need to face it: Either you repair it some time, or you need to drop the car in the long run.

If you dont do anything you are going to face (rather in the long run) a loss of power steering, either due to the steering running dry (you forgot to refill) or by final, catastropic failure. A power steering without power is.no.fun.at.all trust me. Without power steering you are facing steering forces in excess of 100lb. Steering will be possible for you maybe with a rolling car, but with a standing/parked car its gonna be impossible to steer.

I was driving around with slightly leaking power steering (dripping into the engine compartment) with my classic car (see my avatar) for quite some time (= few years = several 1000km, probably up to 10 or 20k, i dont drive that car much). I always kept an eye on it and watched for the leak becoming bigger. Finally i decided to invest the 1500€ for the new part and mechanic´s work ca. 2y ago.

You may want to look for a used rack, that may save some $. If the mileage isnt too high and if its still ok (= dry overall on the outside, no fluid in bellows) you have pretty good chances.

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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15-02-2017, 01:24 PM
RE: Auto-Savvy Atheists: Halp!
(15-02-2017 01:16 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  It may not be puddling under the care because power steering is under pressure, so it may be spraying under your care while you are driving and then not be an issue when the car is not running. And you wouldn't necessarily notice a problem with your power steering if it is because portions of the rack and/or hoses are starting to dry rot. Power steering fluid gets really hot and as a result, the high pressure hoses will start to deteriorate over time.

While it sucks, $1500 is probably not too bad considering parts and labor for replacing the rack. This would be unrelated to tie rods (your car probably doesn't have them anyways) too.

Even if there was an undetected leak, the fluid would eventually get low enough to cause noise and performance problems with the steering.

The tie-rods are connected to the ends of the rack and connect to the knuckle via an outer tie-rod end. It's how the rack makes the wheels turn.
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