A power steering hose leak is one of the most common issues drivers may find in the vehicle’s steering system. It is also deemed as one of the most puzzling leaks since car owners don’t usually check their power steering fluid level when they notice a leak from their vehicles. Power steering hose leak is something you can’t just ignore since it could cause steering issues like difficulty to turn the steering wheel or make maneuvers. It can also cause the other parts of the vehicle to become damaged due to low fluid levels. A power steering hose leak can be fixed or replaced. You can do some do-it-yourself repairs or replacements or have it replaced by the professionals. Power steering hose replacements have an estimated cost between $491 and $521.
Power Steering Hose Leak: What is the primary purpose of the power steering hose?
The vehicle’s power steering system has a number of components that work together to make the vehicle turn easier and to make accurate steering. Its components consist of the steering wheel, steering couple, steering column, steering gear, power steering hoses, and the power steering pump. The vehicles today have three different basic types of power steering which are the hydraulic power steering, the fully electric power steering, and the electric power hydraulic steering. Since we want to understand about the power steering hose leak, we will just focus on the hydraulic power steering and the power steering hoses.
The power steering hose is a vital part of the hydraulic power steering system. It connects the steering pump to the cylinders that allows you to turn your vehicle easier and moves the pressurized steering fluid into the rack. The power steering hose also helps with the cooling and the lubrication of the system.
There are two hoses in the power steering system – a low-pressure hose and a high-pressure hose. Both these hoses are built and made from reinforced synthetic compounds with the high-pressure hose usually having double-flared compression fittings. It has layers of high-tech polymer materials and fabrics. Because of the lower pressure in the low-pressure hose, it might not have any compression fittings and it has fewer layers than the high-pressure one. The purpose of the high-pressure hose is to transfer high-pressure oil from the power steering pump to the steering gear while the low-pressure one transfers the oil from the steering gear back to the pump.
Power Steering Hose Leak: How do I know if my power steering hose is leaking?
To know if your vehicle has a power steering hose leak, you need to conduct a thorough inspection. You need to understand that the power steering hose is exposed to some of the highest pressures and temperatures under the hood of your vehicle. Then there are oil and solvents, or ozone that can attack the outer layers of the hoses. Although the high-pressure hose is built sturdy and has to pass a torture test ranging from 40 to 150 °C and 1,500 psi maximum working pressure, it can still be damaged due to a lot of contributing factors.
A power steering hose leak is something that you can’t ignore when you experience it. It is because the power steering fluid is flammable and when it ignites, it can cause a bigger problem and will be hard to put out. It could also cause an accident when you lose the ability to steer or turn your vehicle.
How do you know if you have a power steering leak? You need to inspect your power steering hose, line, or fluid thoroughly. It is important that you do not take the inspection or the leak lightly. Here are some of the things you need to check along with the signs of a leaking power steering.
- Fluid. One of the things you should check that can help you determine if you have a power steering hose leak is to check the fluid. You need to visually inspect it. Check the color of the fluid if it is black or gray. You also need to check the fluid level. If its level is low, it can be an indication that there is a leak somewhere.
If it is discolored, it could be an indication that the hose’s inner layers have already been damaged, worn, or degraded since the discoloration can mean that rubber or metal particles in the fluid. This can happen since high-temperature pulsations can cause the inside of your power steering hose to deteriorate. Breaking off of the hose small particles can also happen because of the pressure surges and constant flexing. These small particles will then be carried through the system that can result in a malfunction.
- Dripping fluid. You might have a power steering hose leak if you see your vehicle dripping power steering fluid. It is usually an amber colored fluid or a clear one with a smell similar to a burnt marshmallow. If it is old, it can look like the engine oil which is reddish-brown. If you see a dripping power steering fluid or see a fluid spot on the surface under your vehicle, you need to clean it up right away since it is flammable. Plus, you need to have it inspected and repaired immediately.
- Difficult to steer or turn. If you suddenly find it difficult to steer or turn your steering wheel, it might be an indication of a power steering hose leak. This happens when the system no longer has enough pressure to move the power steering fluid to the rack. You will find it difficult to maneuver your steering wheel or steer it accurately. When this happens, make sure that you have it repaired as soon as possible since it can compromise your safety.
- Whining noise. Whining noise can also be a sign that you have a power steering hose leak. This can happen when there is an extreme loss of fluid.
While you are inspecting your power steering hose, you also need to check the other signs of a faulty power steering hose even if you do not see any leaking. These signs can help you detect that your hose is already failing and you might encounter a power steering hose leak pretty soon. You need to look out for these signs:
- Physical damage.
Visually inspect the power steering hoses and check for any physical damages. If you see that the hoses’ outer layers are damaged, it will be likely that the inner layers will be damaged too since they will be exposed to heat, chemicals, and other elements.
It is also important that you investigate further why the outer layers of the hose are damaged. Issues with the motor mounts, mounting tabs, or a leaking exhaust gasket can cause the power steering hose to become faulty.
If you notice that the power steering hose seems soft in an area, it is an indication that there is a breaking down happening with its internal or external layers.
A hose with any form of bulges means that its internal layers are damaged. It means that there is fluid between the layers and it is close to failing completely.
If you spot corrosion on the fittings, you need to fix it immediately since extreme corrosion can lead to a power steering hose failure. While most hose fittings are built with coatings and plating methods that are resistant to corrosion, they can sometimes be removed due to several factors like normal wear and tear, solvents, and other contributing factors.
A cracking or flaking of your power steering hose’s outer layer is known to be an early sign of an internal wear. It will mean that your hose will be unable to absorb pressure surges.
Power Steering Hose Leak: Can you drive with a power steering leak?
While it is possible to drive your car with a power steering hose leak, it can be dangerous. Before you drive, you need to understand the consequences since a power steering hose leak can damage your car that might require an expensive fix. To prevent this from happening, you need to have it fixed as soon as possible. Why?
- The problem will get worse.
Most car owners know that when a car component starts to leak, there will be no stopping it unless you have it repaired. The problem or the leak might get worse over time. If you have a power steering hose leak caused by a small crack or hole, it will get bigger eventually if you will just ignore it.
- It can affect your car’s driveability.
It will be unsafe for you to drive a car with a power steering issue. If your power steering fluid leaks out, the steering rack will not operate like it’s supposed to. It will be difficult to turn and steer properly.
- The power steering pump will be damaged.
When you continue to drive your car even if you know that you have a power steering hose leak can damage your pump. If the leaking gets too severe and the fluid level drops, the pump will run dry and this can lead to an increased friction and heat. When this happens, it will become a problem that is too expensive to fix. If you really have to drive your car with a low fluid level, make sure that you won’t do any extreme turns and immediately replace or replenish your car’s fluid.
Power Steering Hose Leak: How do you temporarily fix a power steering hose?
If you have a power steering hose leak and circumstances don’t allow you to have it repaired immediately, can you temporarily fix a power steering hose? Fortunately, you can! Here’s what you need to do.
- You need to make sure that it is your power steering hose that is leaking. You just have to turn your steering wheel while the engine is running. This can make the power steering fluid to be sprayed out the hose’s hole. You can ask someone to assist you while doing this.
- If you have jack stands, you can jack up the car to get a better access to the location of the leak. Make sure that you set your parking brake for safety when you do this. If you can’t see the leak since the fluid level is already low, you can add fluid to find the leak.
- Once you locate the leak, you need to remove that damaged part of the power steering hose by cutting it. You can use a hose cutter or anything that can cut it.
- Once the bad part has been removed, place or install two hose clamps on each side and stagger them. Move them from side to side until they are closer together. Connect the two hoses together by using brass coupling or knobs on each clamp. Make sure that the clamps are tight and secure. Do not overtighten the clamps since it can strip the hose’s threads.
- Once the hose has been connected, put it back again to its previous position. You can then proceed to fill your power steering tank up and check again if the leak has stopped. If there is no longer a power steering hose leak, you have successfully repaired it. The steering system will work fine and you won’t lose even a single drop of fluid.
Remember that this method can only be done as a temporary repair. Although it might have stopped the leak, you still need to have the hose repaired or replaced as soon as possible to make sure that it will not happen again.
A power steering hose leak can warrant a power steering hose replacement and it should be done immediately. The power steering hose is a part of the vehicle that is heavily used when the engine is running. It is exposed to an enormous amount of pressure and is considered a wear part.
Replacing a power steering hose should be easy. It just involves disconnecting the damaged hose, draining the fluid, replacing the seals and fittings, and installing the new hose. It is also recommended that whenever you have your high-pressure hose replaced, you should also replace the low-pressure hose.