2003 Jeep Liberty Power Steering Rack - Replace, or blow off?

jeep
steering
liberty
leaks

#1

I own a Jeep Liberty that I bought used at 32,000 miles. It now has around 82,000 miles. My daughter uses it at college, and drives it to/from home a couple of times a year (about a 3 hour trip). Took it to the dealership today for oil change, and the mechanic told me that he was seeing seepage around the front steering rack (pistons) and that they may need replacement at cost of around $1,400. It’s a single assembly, and looks to be a bear to fix.



FWIW, I have never seen any leaks on my driveway (my typical warning signal) and it hasn’t made any major noises. One of the two rubber boots on the steering assembly was missing a fastener band, but both were completely intact.



Is this something I need to worry about soon, or am I good to watch for needing power steering fluid, then if I start seeing leaks I can fix it then? Or do I run the risk of the steering going out and sending the jeep (and driver) unexpectedly hurdling towards an oncoming semi? I tend to think this isn’t quite a crisis yet, but would appreciate a second opinion.


#2

Can you see the seepage the dealer saw? How bad does it look?

If it’s just seeping I’d say keep an eye on the PS fluid level and drive on.

When it starts LEAKING, then you can worry about it.


#3

There is some dried oil around the one boot that is missing a clamp, and some dark spot at the bottom of the one boot that has both bands in place. However, I didn’t see any drips or the like when I looked under it.


#4

Have you needed to add any fluid? If not, then the seepage is certainly no emergency. Check it regularly and if you should need to add fluid put in one that is recommended for the Jeep but formulated as a “high mileage” fluid. That normally means that there are seal conditioners added to help keep those kinds of leaks under control.

If it gets to the point where you have to add fluid frequently (say once a week or so) you can try this: http://www.lucasoil.com/products/display_products.sd?iid=28&catid=9&loc=show
- though if it does get to that point and you know you want to keep the vehicle, then a rack replacement becomes more and more the thing to do.


#5

Terrific, thanks for the quick feedback from both of you. Feel much better about holding off for now, I tend to be pretty paranoid on the maintenance front (preventative in particular) so watching it for now should work fine.