2010 Nissan Teana (=Altima or Maxima) - Power steering rack leak

Hi everyone,

my car had maintenance by Nissan yesterday, I was told the Power Steering rack needs to be replaced, cost around 2000 USD…

I’ve checked the level of the refill tank, and it has not dropped over 24hrs, also I do not see any spots of leakage where I park…

Here’s a video of the bottom, you can see where they changed the oil, my question is does everything look normal?

the video shows at 1:19 a connection to the engine which seems wet of oil? what is that? normal after it was serviced 24 hrs ago?
also a big black tube which looks wet? what’s that (it did rain few hours ago, but did not drive in the rain, so not sure if it could be from rain, will check again when 100% dry)

many thanks for your help!

with kind regards,
Michael

Screenshot from video:


notice here the black big tube which looks wet:
sorry, cannot upload a 2nd image…

That tubing is to protect the wiring, hard to say why it is wet. Maybe oil or something else spilled on it.
As far as the rack, your Nissan is out of warranty, so find an independent shop and get a second opinion. Ask friends and co-workers for suggestions. If you have yelp reviews in your country try them too. Some dealerships are very honest, some will try to sell you unneeded repairs.
If there is a leak from the seals the boots on the rack may contain the fluid and you may not see drops on the ground. It may take several weeks to see a loss in your reservoir.

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Check the power steering fluid reservoir regularly. If the level is going down over a few days, weeks, then you may need a repair. If it isn’t going down, any leaks are just seeping a little and you are fine.

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While agreeing with the others the only thing I will add is that if it eventually turns out that do need to replace the steering rack I would suggest a good independent shop as it should be considerably cheaper than 2 grand.

Not that the dealer is gouging you but labor costs are generally higher at a dealer plus they would be using a new from Nissan steering rack. The cost of the rack to the dealer is likely far higher than the retail price of one from a local parts store.

if it turns to be a slow leak/seepage, I would suggest adding some of “steering stop leak” additive, that helped me on few occasions and allowed to delay repair until the entire car is not usable anymore

Thanks for the great advice! all of you :slight_smile:

ok, awesome tip, I’ve ordered Liqui Moly Leak Stop, I live in Thailand and not much options available, this one mentions compliant with Dexron VI which my Service manual recommends (or obviously Nissan PSF).

Also ordered STP Power steering Fluid + Leak stop (though they don’t mention if ok with Dexron VI ATF…), there’s another brand available with even less details, can’t even find out online how to use it: K&W Steer X Power Steering Stop Leak (by CRC).

Liqui Moly states it’s German, so should be good, also only 35ml to 1 liter of Power Steering fluid, which I may be able to add soon (right now, so 2 days have passed the level in the refill tank is still at max when hot, and when cold it’s in the middle of the Hot-max and Cold-max (in Thailand temperature always hot 32°C =30°F), so not sure if I can add 35ml now, don’t want over max, since then most likely the pressure on the system is even higher and the leak may get worse…)

This is a better shot of the tubing that looked wet, will take a look today when no rain to see if still wet, if so it must be some oil…:

what is this connected to, these (wet) wires are for what?

The Nissan dealer also said I need to replace:

  • wishbone / pinion bushing: front left / right: cost 490 USD
  • rear suspension shock-up: 200 USD
    (not sure if translated correctly, my friend translates for me, as English is very limited in Thailand… so cannot have a direct discussion with Nissan dealer to better understand…)

Car only has 44,150km = 27,500 miles, ok it’s old, first on the road January 2011 = almost 9 years. Bought it a year ago, was a unique find since only 33,xxx km, with service record at official Nissan dealers.

Suspension feels fine to me, how can I test if the suspension is truly bad / needs work?
can a car with low mileage but 9 years old also deteriorate? I can imagine that plastic/rubbers go bad in a tropical climate over time, even if not driven much…

strange thing is only 10 months ago, or 7350km = 4,570miles ago was previous Service maintenance at a different Nissan dealer, who didn’t mention any problems with the car… so for sure will send car in 6 months to a different Nissan dealer to see what’s the verdict then…

The steering rack usually has rubber boots on each end, and those are a common leak point. You’d often only see the fluid that has leaked out by loosening the clamp & peeking under the boot. No need to guess, ask your shop where exactly the leak is, and post back, you might get some more ideas here. The most common PS leak isn’t the rack, it’s the high pressure hose, usually where it attaches to the rack. Often begins as a small seep. I get the sense you don’t entirely trust the shop’s evaluation. Suggest to ask friends, relatives, co-worker who the use to fix their cars, then interview a few of those and decide on a shop that has Nissan experience. For a 2010 you don’t need to use a dealership b/c the warranty has expired, so an independent shop might be a better choice. Suggest to refrain from using any additives until you get a second opinion on the rack and the suspension.

If you do choose to use additives, I think I would not mix different brands.

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Thanks! Good advice

Nissan dealer says saw leak at Power Steering rack cilinder, should be visible in the middle between wheels. So I’m guessing that’s what I also found, the pics I shared here. Nissan says check the fluid level in 15-30 days to determine how big a leak.

Well I’m going to official Nissan dealer to make sure they use original parts / fluids. For example I asked them to replace the CVT transmission oil, since I’ve read here problems can also arise (read somewhere best to replace every 40k km).

Here in Thailand English is really limited, so finding a car mechanic that would understand me may be close to impossible.

Suppose no harm in adding the Liqui Moly additive once max. level has dropped a bit when hot. It says will regenerate hardened seals, seems to keep plastic/rubber in good shape / fixes small leaks / prevents it getting worse I hope… Not sure if effective on the PS cilinder though…

http://www.liqui-moly.eu/liqui-moly/produktdb.nsf/id/en_1099.html?OpenDocument&land=DE&vcmstemplate=mobile&redirect=1

You posted pictures of the engine, not of the steering gear.

Power steering leaks can be very slow, it may take a year before you need to add fluid so don’t panic.

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may have found where it’s leaking:

and view from other side of car:

I suppose that’s the PS rack?

but now 8 days have passed and still at Max. when hot… plan to add the “Liqui Moly Stop Leak” additive (=35ml /liter of PS fluid) once the max. level allows it…

may 1st check if the fluid is clear in the refill tank, maybe suck it out if dirty or dark? read some people do that so the system is better maintained for a longer time, though if ATF was used it could be black color which would be normal?

yes, on the picture you posted it is one rubber boot on the power steering column, then some more deep inside view on the steering rack

as others suggested above, it may seep very slowly, so since your fluid level is not dropping rapidly, it is no urgency to cough up hundreds for repair and most likely sealant additive would work

another thing to consider: inspect if you have any OTHER oily leaks which may drip into the area, for example oil dripping from the engine valve cover, as I can bet you did not pay dealer for diagnostics, they literally poked with a finger into the sky during some other service and I would not be surprised if they did not do much further exploration around the area

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thanks for the advice!

no, indeed didn’t pay for any diagnostics, was a routine maintenance, I assume they do some basic checks on brakes/suspension and possible leaks as such…though I don’t plan on going back to that Nissan dealer… coming with a list of repairs totaling around 2,500 USD was quite a shock…

hmmm so you’re saying I should monitor engine oil level as well… ok will check but I suppose if there’s no puddles of oil under the car / parking area, shouldn’t be a big concern of running low on engine oil? or you simply mean could be the PS rack isn’t leaking but it looks like it due to another oil spilled on it?

I was not regularly suggested by my Nissan dealer to replace something, what by no standard is not due to be replaced, like “your CV joints are about to fail”, then I inspect them and they are perfectly fine or “your oil is very dirty”, when I replaced it the day before the visit to dealer for safety inspection

YES, you have to check you oil level regularly, at least once in a thousand miles or so
NO, it’s not necessarily will result in a puddle, dripping can be slow, it may fall on underbelly plastic cover for example
YES, if some oil was spilled on it, it will look “wet” very long time, before it looks “dusty/dirty”