2005 Honda Accord EX Steering Rack problems

I have a 2005 Honda Accord with slightly over 200,000 miles (I drive a lot). Recently I took it in to the Honda dealership for an oil change. I know people say never take a car to the dealership for maintenance work, but I peace of mind knowing these guys know the in’s and out’s of a Honda. They told me I need to replace steering rack assembly (found power steering leak) $1090.00 and perform an alignment. $89.00. I have no problem yet with the power steering. Additionally they said I need to perform coolant fluid exchange and transmission fluid exchange and a few minor things $1089.00 Do I need to replace steering rack assembly? The leak is very minor. Or Is the coolant fluid exchange and transmission fluid exchange more important?

If the steering leak is truly minor, just check it weekly and top off when you need to. Have you ever had the coolant and trans fluid replaced? I had the coolant replaced with the timing belt at 100,000 miles on my 2005 Accord EX V6. The auto trans fluid should be replaced at 30,000 mile intervals.

Most leaks on the p. s. rack are slow seepage from the shaft seals. If the fluid level isn’t dropping fast in the reservoir, no puddles underneath, then is it worth the $1090, or do you just top off the fluid once in awhile. $4 a bottle for fluid. On a vehicle with your mileage, it makes more sense to me to just add Honda fluid once in awhile, as long as it is just seeping out, not pouring out. Hope that makes sense.
I presume your Accord is a 4 cylinder, since a 6 cyl. would be due for a timing belt at 210,000 miles, at which point a new water pump and coolant is a good idea. Your car came with long life coolant, good for 105,000 or 10 years. (See sticker under hood) Replacement coolant should have been good for 5 years. At the most, I would do a drain and fill, which shouldn’t cost much. It should not be necessary to flush it, these cars don’t get dirty cooling systems. I don’t know what they mean by a “fluid exchange”. It must be either a flush or drain and fill.
Once again, if this is a 4 cyl., and especially if it’s a 6 cyl., any knowledgeable dealer would have been recommending a drain and fill on your transmission every 30,000 miles. A flush is never needed. Once again, what is a “fluid exchange”? I have also assumed this is an automatic trans.
Honda recommends trans fluid replacement at 105,000 miles, see your owners manual, under normal driving conditions. Any Honda technician, (I worked as a tech at Honda and Acura dealers for 35 years) will tell you that a drain and fill with Honda factory fluid every 30,000 is a good idea.
this should cost around $100 at a dealer, figuring a $100 an hour labor rate.(.5 hour charge, 3 quarts fluid, $7.88 a quart, plus a new drain plug gasket.)
Hope this helps. Oh, and Honda states that doing flushes is never needed on any Hondas.


I thought I’d be the 1st post, but I took so long to write it that Jtsanders beat me. However, we are both supporting each other in our advice to you. It is good to see others with a logical knowledge of Hondas, providing sensible advice.

I suppose my answer would depend on how “car-minded” you are and how you maintain your car. The time to fix the power steering is before you have a problem, not after. Check and top-off the fluid weekly? You wouldn’t believe how many customers I have that can’t be bothered to check the oil and coolant once a month. If you can deal with the hassle of keeping a bottle of Honda approved power steering fluid in the car and topping it off regularly, just do that while you plan and save for rack replacement. It’s leaking now, it’s not going to fix itself. The leak will only get worse. It may take 3 weeks, it may take 3 years.

Depending where you live you may not have a choice. In some states with safety inspection requirements visible fluid from a steering gear or rack is a fail.

If/when you service coolant and transmission fluid, be sure to use Honda transmission fluid.

Honda recommends a thorough warm up, then drain the fluid and replace. Repeat a total of 3 times and you’re done.

I think use of the words flush, exchange, swap, drain, etc is often a matter of semantics and mean the same thing.

In a nutshell, exchange the brake fluid is used in the same manner as flushing the brake fluid.

Honda says drain only and do not flush. It’s in the owners manual and I take it at face value.

Thank you everyone who took the time to leave a comment and especially your great advice. I will take your advice and top off the brake fluid because it’s a very small leak from what I can tell. I’ll have the coolant and transmission drained and filled. See if that works. I’ve got to maintain it as cheap as possible unemployed and hit hard by the economic times.

Brake fluid? you didn’t mention brake fluid in your earlier post. If you have a leak in your brake system, no matter how small, it MUST be addressed immediately. Tiny leaks tend to become major leaks on a moments notice, and usually NOT at a good time.

But a slow drop in the brake fluid level in the master cylinder does not mean there is a leak. As the pads wear down, brake fluid is drawn from the reservoir to fill the addition space in the calipers caused by the need to push the pads further. The pads do not retract to their original position as they wear so this causes the capacity of fluid in the calipers to increase as the pads wear down.

I would recommend against adding any brake fluid as the level drops. When the brake fluid reaches the minimum level, then have the brakes inspected as the pads are probably very close to their minimum. Honda has done a good job of engineering the max and min levels in the master cylinder to match the needed fluid to compensate for pad wear so you hit the min level when you need new pads.

As for a little oil on the rack, it could come from other sources than the rack itself. The rack is close to the ground so it can pick up oil thrown up from the road or it can accumulate oil dripping from the engine. If it is actually leaking, there is a strong possibility that the leak is from around the return hose, usually a $200 repair at a dealer, and overpriced at that.

The transmission should have a drain and refill every 30k miles. If you follow that schedule, there is no reason for a fluid exchange, flush or multiple changes back to back. There is a new ATF for Honda’s, DM-1 that replaces the old Z-1 ATF. It helps it to shift better when cold. I have found that a simple drain and refill on our Honda, which only replaces 2.5 of the 6 quarts in the tranny really helped. But doing 3 back to back changes gets most of the fluid exchanged. The new ATF is closer to $9/qt than $7.88 for the Z-1, but its worth it.

The coolant should be drained from the block and radiator according to the maintenance schedule and replaced with a long life coolant. You can use the Honda antifreeze or any of the universal long life coolants available. Before Honda started recommending and using a long life coolant, I used Dexcool in them with no adverse affects. Just do not flush the coolant system with chemicals or fresh water from the tap. It is better to just leave that small amount of old coolant in the system and refill with fresh coolant than to risk contaminating the system with corrosive chemicals and/or minerals.

A transmission drain and refill along with a coolant drain and refill should not be anywhere near $1000. BTW, the service writers goal in presenting you with these recommended repairs was not to generate business for the repair department, it was to convince you to go into the showroom and buy a new car. He gets a cut on the commission if you do. BTW did he mention that the car might not be worth putting that kind of money into it as it may need more repairs in the near future because it is getting to “that age”?