Honda Odyssey - Power Steering Fluid Resevoir empty w/in 30 days of High Pressure Hose being replace

Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer sound advice here -

Less than 30 days ago I dropped just shy of $2k at Robertson Honda Service Center in North Hollywood to replace the Timing Belt, Water Pump, Front Arm Bushings, and Power Steering High Pressure Hose on my 2007 Honda Odyssey.

Today, my wife noticed the engine was noisier than usual, then suddenly became stranded on the roadside when the power steering went out; at the same time a “Check Charging System” error displayed on the panel. Thankfully - the van was within walking distance of home. I got it home and checked the engine, finding the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir to be nearly empty (far lower than the minimum line).

My questions - am I right to think Honda blew it? Does the above scenario sound like they simply forgot to refill the fluid after their repair? Or other? If negligence, what sort of damage may have resulted that I should be on the lookout for? Finally, why is the “Check Charging System” light coming on as a result of this?

Thanks again to those who take the time to offer advice - I’m rather upset but need arrows in my quiver if I take this issue back to Robertson Honda.

Without checking the car personally there is no way to know. Just had all power sterring hoses replaced a few weeks ago. It is possible there was more than one leak in the power steering system, maybe they messed up the repair it is all conjecture at this point.

The hope is the power steering pump recovers and does not need replacement, the check chargeing system could be related if fluid leaked on the belt and caused slipping, but otherwise got to know the details.

I hear your pain.

Thank you for your comment Barky. To expand - if you were there in person, what would you check? I did a cursory scan with a flashlight and didn’t spy fluid about, nor leaking underneath, but it could be pooling in a plastic well for all I know… if there’s something you would do in my place prior to towing it back to the dealer service center, I’d like to hear it.

Does that “check charging system” light come on normally, when the key is in “on” but the engine isn’t started? If so, that could be an explanation. Maybe the car just stalled out, then that light will come on normally, as well as other dash lights, like the check engine light.

Focus on the power steering pump problem first I guess. Either they forgot to refill it (unlikely), didn’t bleed the air properly (more likely), or it still has a leak somewhere (most likely). Ask your shop to look carefully for leaks at the pump or the hoses again. If no leaks are spotted, re-fill, air bleed per Honda’s specs, recheck the fill level, and hopefully the problem won’t return.

Thank you George.

Am I being unreasonable if I insist that the shop review their work (including refill and air bleed) without further charge? I don’t know that they’ll try to charge me more, but I think they should be willing to stand by their work and seek to make it go right before pulling more money from me.

No, I wouldn’t say you are being unreasonable to ask they double check their work due to the loss of power steering fluid. But it is quite possible there’s a second leak, or the fix to repair the first leak wasn’t quite enough. In those cases, that’s just the way repairs go sometimes, the shop’s try to not overdesign the fix to keep the cost to you lower, but it turns out its not quite good enough, so if that’s the case expect to pay some more to have them complete the job. Remember, it’s an 8 year old car. Some give and take with the shop is necessary, perfection is too expensive.

Just as an aside, my Corolla has a power steering pump, and the dipstick on that pump, it isn’t that precise. The scale I mean. It’s hard to say if it is full or low just by looking at it. And it changes depending on whether the engine is warmed up. If yours is like that, maybe that has something to do with all this.

My shop did a clean of power steering lines due to leak and fluid loss, for no charge and said bring it back in a 2 weeks and we should be able to find the leak. I put more than a quart of fluid in in a week, but only a few drops on the ground. Took it back in 1 week, and needed all power steering lines replaced due to rust pinhole leaks. 800 bucks, but life goes on.

Sure they should review their work, but being angry is good sometimes, but having a shop that you can work with is better.

I had an oil change, and 2 days later what sounded like valve clatter on cold starts. They noticed the oil filter part was superceeded by a new part and redid oil with old filter part, no charge. Ended up being a bad tensioner.

Angry sometimes works, being a nice guy sometimes works. Tell them the issue and have hope if they screwed up they will fix it. If they screwed up and want to charge you then get angry.

Thank you both. The perspective helps - greatly.

Have you checked the pump itself for leakage? Just wondering because if the pump is leaking fluid onto the accessory belt or if the pump is trying to seize up due to lack of fluid the belt could be slipping on the alternator pulley.

If there are no leaks on the steering system then I’d say someone either forgot to top the fluid off or there was a lot of air in the system that was not burped out after replacing the hose.

I’d head back to the servicing dealer and have them recheck this. Be firmly polite. There are times when being a bit volatile is called for but not at this point.

I think you need a serpentine belt and/or tensioner, that would explain why the check charging system went out with the power steering. An “almost empty” reservoir should not stop the power steering from working.
You may or may not have a leak.


Oldtimer nailed it. First, Robertson Honda took full responsibility for making it go right, no additional charge. Good on them for it.

The cause was a loose tensioner causing the serpentine belt to dislodge. That knocked out the power steering instantly and flagged the “check charging system” indicator.

They replaced the belt, topped off the fluids, and got it back to me same day. I’ll continue to monitor (I’m still not sure why the Power Steering fluid was low, e.g.), but it looks resolved for now.

Thanks to everyone on the thread for providing insight/experience. I appreciate your time and help.

Ding, Ding, Ding… We Have A Winner!
Skillful Diagnosis! Good Going!

Yes, I agree, that was a very good diagnosis by our resident expert @“oldtimer 11” Good job.

Thanks for reporting back, not enough people do.

If they left the tensioner loose it’s also reasonable to assume they didn’t add the proper amount of fluid after changing the hose .