I have a 1995 Dodge Caravan with over 300,000 miles on it. There have been no repairs to the Power Steering system and it made no noises and did not ever leak prior to July 2011. The power steering system started leaking somewhere, so I went to a chain store shop. They replaced the pump citing that it had rusted through. However, the leaks continued. I took it back twice and they found nothing. An affiliate store determined that the problem was the steering rack and they replaced it and the recently replaced pump. They also said one hose that had a crimp clamp had worked loose and the rack seals were shot. My question: is it likely that the pump and rack failed within a three month period independently? That’s what the chain store district manager concluded.
I think its most likely, at 17 years and 300K+ miles, that all of it was leaking all along.
So then there are a couple of scenarios. Unless the rack leak is terrible it can be hard to see because the boots can easily hide the leak, but the pump leak is much easier to see. So you show up at a chain store (there’s your problem!) with a ps leak. They found a leaky pump and replaced it. One leak down but they did what they said - found a ps leak and repaired it.
They knew there were lots of leaks and should have told you to replace everything - rack, pump, hoses - but maybe thought you wouldn’t spend that much & would scrap the van instead. So they did what businesses do - they sold a service, and again did what they charged you for - found a leak & repaired it.
There are obviously other scenarios, but those two are likely. Are you looking to be mad at them? Just find a good, independent local shop that focuses on fixing cars rather than selling services. My shop would have given me the entire picture the first time around. That picture is: this car is 17 yrs old & has over 300K miles on it. We can replace X for $XXX, but you might still need to replace Y & Z as well.
It’s not a question of looking to be mad at them. Your point of “So you show up at a chain store (there’s your problem!) with a ps leak.” already covered that eloquently. I find Autotire’s defense (it’s old, so therefore nothing is our fault) only cuts one way. They have certainly been happy to get all the other repairs that being old caused. However, I came there with a PS leak. And it started leaking again very shortly after I left (within a few weeks.) The shop said it was leaking out of the PS reservoir filler cap. It also doesn’t explain why the PS pump was replaced at the second shop…
If I knew upfront that I should “replace everything” could have caused me to scrap the van. It also might have caused me to go elsewhere less convenient but lower cost.
Ok - well, there’s no way for anyone who couldn’t inspect the van all along to say exactly what happened or what was leaking when. I can say that the PS fluid leaking out the cap is either completely bogus or indicates a larger, underlying problem. I can also say that a district manager for an auto care chain shop is likely to be someone who actually knows relatively little about cars. They will also not have been there to inspect during the work.
In the end nothing would change my initial thoughts which are basically that 17yrs/300+K is plenty to get out of any & all of the PS parts.