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05 Impala Power Steering - Not Working and Bad Leak | Please Help


I am new to CarTalk and also I know nothing about cars so please bear with me.

Last night at 2am and it was about 10 degrees out (I say the temp because it might matter?) I started my car, let it warm up to normal running standard and backed up. My car moved backwards but the wheel would not turn at all. I pull forward into my parking spot and noticed that the wheel is extremely hard to turn left or right… almost impossible.

I check under the hood and noticed that my car was leaking something onto the group but it was dark and I couldn’t quite see what it was.

Checked this morning and I found that my power steering fluid was completely empty. I had a half bottle in my trunk and put it in my car, then turned my car on. All of a sudden I noticed that the fluid is leaking onto the ground. Not really leak, more like a slow/medium pour and the wheel still wouldn’t not move.

Can someone possible tell me what might be the issue here? I don’t have a mechanic that I can go to besides a chain location shop and I just wanted an idea of what it could be before I left them rape my wallet.

Thank you in advance.

You need to identify or at least try to describe the part that the fluid is leaking out of. For example it leaking out of a hose under the passenger side of the hood close to the fire wall behind the engine

Sorry about that. I’m not able to see exactly where it is coming from without getting directly under the car. From an angle view, it seems to be leaking from the mid front of the passenger side about a foot behind the right pass tire.

Sounds like the rack let go. Time to call a tow truck.

I was afraid that someone was going to say that. Sigh

It’s Hard To Say. That Is Where The Pump Is Located. It Could Be A Pump Or A Hose.


Agree with above observations. Whatever you do, don’t run the engine again, call a tow truck and take it to a good independent garage, or the dealer. Tire and mufffler shops are not very qualified to fix these problems. If the rack is bad, you need a rebuilt rack. They start at $300 or so. However, it could just be a leaking hose.

I don’t think it is the rack or the pump. Usually when they blow a seal, it is not all of a sudden, they usually start out slow and get worse over time. I can’t rule them out completely, but I think the odds are against it.

What does fail suddenly and catastrophically like this is a hose. The hose that is more likely to blow is the return hose. The high pressure hose is a pretty heavy duty hose with swaged ends and when they blow, the fluid comes out in a hard spray. The low pressure return hose is usually a cheaper quality hose and has clamped ends. Fluid just pours out of these.

A return hose may not be all that cheap. It would be the cheapest part in the system, but on a newer model Nissan, that can run almost $300 at a dealer. You didn’t mention what vehicle you have.

Keith, you may be right, but it’s been my experience that a sudden leak on a 10 degrees F morning is uaually a rack seal gone out. Elastomers used as seals are subject to low temperature failures because they have high expansion coefficients. Once they get too much wear on 'em, well, shrnkage takes care of the rest…

Anyway, the only way to find out is to get it to a shop. Once there it’ll be easy to diagnose.