Normally power steering fluid leaks will occur when the system is operating. The reason for this is that the power steering fluid is under pressure when the vehicle is running, and leaks are going to be much more obvious during operation. So, with that being the case, it is always best to check for power steering fluid leaks while the vehicle is running. Checking for a leak will usually require a flashlight, because it is often dark and cramped in the areas where the power steering hoses are routed. Carefully follow the hoses from the pump to the steering gear or rack and pinion and back to the pump with the light. Inspect for any signs of leaking from hose clamps or crimps.
If you inspect the hoses and cannot find any sign of a leak, it is possible the power steering hard parts are leaking. The power steering pump and steering gear or rack and pinion are sealed units that can develop leaks over time from normal wear and tear. In order to check the components for leaks start the vehicle and allow it to run while performing the inspection. If at all possible, have someone help you turn the steering wheel a full rotation in both directions while you inspect the system. Be careful to avoid moving parts. If you do not notice any fluid spraying from the system anywhere, check closely at all of the seal points. Sometimes power steering fluid may build up in the bellow boots on the rack and pinion and fluid leaks won't be noticed externally. In order to check the bellows boots for leaks, poke a small pinhole in the lower portion of the boot and turn the wheel one full rotation in both directions. If any fluid comes out from the hole that you poked, the seals are leaking on the inner tie rod ends, and either the seals will need to be replaced or the rack and pinion itself.
Now that you have a better understanding of where your power steering fluid might be going, it’s time to take a look at your own vehicle. If you have any power steering cooler questions, reach out the professionals in our Ask the Experts forum.
Where is My Power Steering Fluid Going
Are you filling up your power steering fluid reservoir and wondering, “Where is my power steering fluid going?” Maybe you know you have a power steering fluid leak but can’t find it. In either case, if you are filling the power steering fluid reservoir and eventually the fluid is going low again without changing out any components, you have a leak. The power steering system is a closed system and is not vented in any way. In order to find the leak, perform a few simple steps.