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Power steering leaking fluid - steering rack?

Discussion in 'Cavalier, Calibra, Vectra, Signum, Sintra & Insignia owners forum' started by damian, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. damian

    damian Active Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    Drives:
    2004 (04) Zafira 2.2
    Hi All,

    I've just had my Vectra 2.2 CD (2001 Y) into a garage this morning to have the power steering looked at as its leaking fluid (my driveway has a nice large patch on it). I'm having to top it up every few days otherwise I get a horrible groaning noise when steering even slightly (ie. not full lock).

    When I looked a few weeks ago, I could see it dripping from the lower back of the engine (I could see it from behind the driver wheel), it looked like it was coming from a bolt so I thought maybe it was a seal. I couldn't see it coming from any higher up than that.

    When I first took it into the garage this morning, without even looking the guy said it would be coming from the pump, which I argued it wasn't as the pump is on the other side of the car. He argued that it wasn't until I popped the bonnet and he realised it was, as I said, at the top left of the engine (ie. where I fill it up). He then looked down the back of the engine and immediately said it was the steering rack, and would be £150 (reconditioned) + labour + vat (ie. around £300 total).

    However, I'm still dubious as to whether it will be the steering rack - does a steering rack leak?

    My MoT is due this month, and I have a feeling its going to fail on the exhaust for a start as I smell petrol strong inside the car when starting it up. I've just spent £40 on Friday on a can of refrigerant to fix the air con, and so its turning into an expensive month, and I certainly can't afford £300 on top of the MoT (if it fails), so I was just after some advice as to whether it's likely to be the steering rack?

    Also, would leaky steering fluid cause an MoT failure (I'm assuming steering rack would)? I'm planning, if its safe to do so, to just keep topping up the power steering fluid until next month (I get it for £5 per bottle at Asda :) ), so I pay for the MoT this month and steering next month, but obviously this isn't possible if its going to be an MoT failure on the steering.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. brikhead

    brikhead Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    wolverhampton england
    Drives:
    Omega

    The connections can, and do, come loose-it may just need nipping back up.

    When the internal seals go on the rack it usually causes the rubber bellows at the end to swell, this is evident by a visual inspection of the rack...


    Also leaky exhausts should not produce a petrol smell.
     
  3. damian

    damian Active Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    Drives:
    2004 (04) Zafira 2.2
    Thanks.

    I've just had someone at work jack it up and we took a look but couldn't really see too much, except that there is steering fluid above the bolt I thought it was dripping from so its coming from somewhere higher up. I'll probably jack it up again tonight when I get home and have more time and see if I can identify exactly where its coming from (which now looks like where a silver ribbed pipe (I'm not very technical with cars as you can probably tell :) ) comes from, so I wonder whether that might be corroded or not properly fitted. I just can't see how, from taking a quick glance under the bonnet, the mechanic knew it was coming from the steering rack, considering the length of the pipe that must go from the filling bottle/reservoir at the top left of my engine to where the fluid is dripping at the bottom right.
     
  4. Tight Git

    Tight Git Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Yes, this appears to be a common fault.

    I had this on my 2001 Vectra a couple of years ago, with fluid all over the driveway.

    Annoying, but fortunately much cheaper than a new rack. (y)
     
  5. erroneusbogz

    erroneusbogz Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    they leak at both the fluid pipe unions,and the end seals this is normally found by the bellows filling up and the thing exploding under pressure,a bad bit of enginnering the vectra has a lot of that
     
  6. damian

    damian Active Member

    Messages:
    112
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    2
    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    Drives:
    2004 (04) Zafira 2.2
    Thanks for all the replies.

    I jacked the car up this evening and took the drivers wheel off to get a better look. After a couple of hours I finally (I think) found the location of the leak, which is exactly where I thought it was in the first place.

    The following is a pic I took of it (which was difficult as the camera didn't want to focus).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The first pic above shows the area the pipe and leak is, the second is a zoomed in version. It may not be helpful, but is the best pic I could get :) I also took a picture from behind the wheel to show the area where the pipes are, which is the third pic above.

    Basically, the very wet looking bit appears to be a bolt, and its between this and the piece of metal its connected to that it appears to be dripping (on the underside). I managed to squeeze my arm down to it and cleaned it with a rag, then started the engine, I immediately saw a drop of steering fluid forming on the underside of this bolt, which would drip every minute or so. The top of the bolt remained clean, as are the left and right. Therefore, I think it must be this thats the problem, probably a seal or something.

    I'm going to take it to a different garage tomorrow to see if they can have a quick look and confirm.
     
  7. brikhead

    brikhead Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Dude, did you try and tighten up the bolt???
     
  8. damian

    damian Active Member

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    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    Drives:
    2004 (04) Zafira 2.2
    Unfortunately I don't have a spanner that I can get to it with (I usually try to avoid doing anything with my car as I don't trust myself :)). I'm sure a colleague at work will have one though (he seems to have everything in the back of his car), so will give it a go in the morning if he has. Will save me £300 on a steering rack!
     
  9. damian

    damian Active Member

    Messages:
    112
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    2
    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    Drives:
    2004 (04) Zafira 2.2
    I've just had the car in another garage today, who have confirmed it was the seals within the joint I mentioned that were the problem, these are now fixed at a cost of about £30 (a tiny 10% of the cost quoted by the other garage).

    However, it appears I've been a complete idiot - when topping the power steering up I've been using the wrong fluid. I've been using Slick 50 fluid - http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/...uctId_204495_langId_-1_categoryId_165750#dtab - I believe I need Dextron. Ooops. Unfortunately I'm told nobody stocks this and they can't get any until tomorrow morning, so I've now got no car for the night :(

    That'll teach me to try and fix my own car!
     

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