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Run Power Steering dry due to leak?

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Run Power Steering dry due to leak?

Post by malcolmtent » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:16 pm

I have a major leak in my power steering rack. Obviously, the steering is very heavy without the power assist. But am I going to damage the car running it this way? I've driven 30 miles home from where the seal ruptured already.

It's going to be a few days until I can obtain parts, this is my only car and I live in a remote area so am stuck without transportation until the rack has been replaced.

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Re: Run Power Steering dry due to leak?

Post by oragex » Fri Jan 31, 2020 6:48 am

Depends how much fluid was inside the reservoir, to feed the pump. If it was too low, the pump will start making noise, and if it sucks in too much air, the pump will wear down very quickly - I would guess, completely out of fluid the pump will heat up and seize perhaps in less than 1 mile (just a guess). While there, if the pump seizes the serpentine belt will burn or snap and make quite some noise and slow down the engine (may even toast the tensioner pulley). Usually this won't damage a gasoline engine (on the diesel D5 engines available in Europe, this is always a death sentence for the engine, as the serpentine belt always wraps around the crank pulley causing the timing belt to fail and to bent the valves). If you need to move the car again, my advice is to make sure the battery is fully charged (may use a charger), remove the serpentine belt, start and drive the car as gently as you can. On a good battery alone you can drive perhaps 10-20 miles. May try to disable the headlights during daytime driving (pull fuse). I don't know if driving without the serpentine belt will cause any additional damage to steering rack seals. You can also as an emergency shortcut, use transmission fluid to feed the reservoir, but again, if it drains quickly, just remove the belt.

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Re: Run Power Steering dry due to leak?

Post by abscate » Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:49 am

I’ll try to find the post, but we had someone report here driving for a week on an empty ps reservoir with no ill effects. Once the pump is no longer making pressure due to fluid loss, the load is light and residual oil keeps it lubed.

Sorry for conflicting opinions but you might be the test case here

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