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Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
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SonicAdventure
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Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by SonicAdventure » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:03 am

I’ve got a power steering fluid leak that is leaving small puddles under both ends of the steering rack. Without a lift, I cannot really tell if it’s a line leak above the rack that is just running out to both ends somehow or if both ends of the rack have some how failed.

The most concerning part of the leak is the collection of fluid in the boot at the end of the passenger side steering rack output shaft. The boot has been torn open for a while now, with no evidence of any fluid leaks. But now the boot has PS fluid in it. If just the seal on the passenger side end of the rack blew, how could it be leaking out on the driver side also? Is there any line leak above the rack that could allow a collection of fluid in that torn open boot or is that pretty much hard evidence of failure of some seal at the end of the rack?

Finally, is it possible to disconnect electric supply from the PS pump and drive the vehicle safely for a little while? Unfortunately I’m in the middle of moving and kind of need the car for the next few days if possible. I don’t mind hard steering at low speeds, but we’re also talking about some highway driving.

Interesting other facts: I have had this car for almost 4 years with no PS issues whatsoever until a few days ago. I have just put almost 800 or so miles on the vehicle over a week or so period which is WAY more than the 40-50 a week average for the car. Could a sudden increase of miles driven cause issues in a steering rack or do you think it’s just a coincidence?

Thanks.



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by abscate » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:29 am

It’s pretty definitive for. A bad rack, there is a crossover pipe to vent form one side of rack to other but I think that is up high and won’t vent fluid?

The PS is all mechanical and there isn’t an easy way to disconnect. I done think it’s good to run the pump empty or dry. The sound alone will tell you that

Nothing on your 800 mile week relevant to being casual to PS failure, just old age

If you want to use my T5 when I’m in PHL I can save parking fees

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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by SonicAdventure » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:51 am

Thanks for your response. I do see an electric plug coming out of the back of the pump. I’m assuming that could be disconnected? Also could fuses be removed?



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by abscate » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:55 am

I think that’s the connector plug for the ECT SENSOR, no PS function.

That’s from my crumbling memory which the last reliable thing left is Ursula Andress in DrNo.

You need someone who has found a serpentine belt that can be fitted and skip the PS pump. We should work that project here, it will be useful to someone else someday


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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by SonicAdventure » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:27 am

Yep, I was thinking the same thing - temporarily bypass the PS pulley with a shorter belt.

Now if only I had a spare afternoon not in the middle of finals week and moving 100 miles from current address to sort all this out, lol.

If anyone has thoughts on an shorter belt length I’d sure appreciate it!



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by crlande » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:41 pm

Now hold on here! Abscate wants to save on parking fees by letting someone else drive his car? I'm only 45 minutes from Philly and if he brings those coffee grounds promised, I will drive him into Philly just to talk to the master/funny commentator.



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by abscate » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:36 pm

crlande wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:41 pm
Now hold on here! Abscate wants to save on parking fees by letting someone else drive his car? I'm only 45 minutes from Philly and if he brings those coffee grounds promised, I will drive him into Philly just to talk to the master/funny commentator.
I only travel in third rear seats, and they must be...


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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by tardcart » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:04 pm

if its an emergency, or if the rack is the death knell for the car, you can drive it with two hands on the wheel. at high speeds you won't even notice. the pumps bearings will eventually go dry. it won't make any noise until then. Its silent when empty, half full or air entrainment is noisy. Ive heard of people driving for a week and the pumps till worked when a new rack was put in. pumps are a dime a dozen since its the same on the 940 and 960 and 850 I think. looks the same anyway but haven't tried it. I drove about 40 miles on mine when the rack went and didnt hurt it. Power steering is only for parking so dont worry about killing anyone.



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by SonicAdventure » Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:57 pm

Thanks for replies. I also saw abscate’s separate thread about the belt tensioning issues of trying a shorter re-route.

Unfortunately, with 260K and also the car most likely needing a new cat and other EGR and pollution control devices, plus new front struts and other items, this may be the end of the line for my V70. TB was done 2 years ago and PCV was done a year ago so it sucks to have to consider throwing in the towel when generally speaking the powertrain is relatively solid.

And...even though I can do many things on my own, replacing the rack myself now is not an option. I’m moving in 1 1/2 weeks to a place that prohibits onsite vehicle maintenance. I could probably get away with changing a tire or minor stuff, but no way can I do the rack there.

Even if I could do the rack myself that’s a $500 ish part on a car with lots of other “little” things. Plus my time. What would be a good ballpark for Indy mechanics in the central PA region for a steering rack replacement, if not OEM a decent one? I will consider having it done as I need a car, but I’m not spending $1500+ on this car right now.

Regarding safely driving the car: if I stop adding fluid and just let it all leak out and the pump burns out, how long would / could it still drive, 100 miles, a 1000 miles? What would be the most likely risk of catastrophic failure disconnection of a tie rod end from the rack due to blown end seals? If I can at least get it to where I’m moving which is 100 miles away and let it sit without making a huge mess of the parking lot, I could reassess it in a month, while looking for a mechanic out there.

Thanks all for any input you could provide.



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Re: Power steering fluid leak - bad steering rack?

Post by abscate » Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:33 pm

Reach out on the forum And let’s find a place where you can work. I’ve got a couple of guys here in Albany I do that and when I need an extra pair of hands, life is good....Now that mone are all scattered.

What’s the new town?


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2 Volvos
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5 cats/dogs/gears
6 Perfect Ladies in waiting
7 Drivers
8 Boats- with a big pointy metal thing on top

1999 V70 T5M 56 2005 V70 NA M56 VWs BMW

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