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My 2002 Ford Taurus Hates Power Steering Fluid

About a month ago, I noticed that when I turned a hard left…say to pull into a parking space, I was dribbling Power Steering Fluid. Not being the wealthiest guy in the world, I decided that I would try a little stop leak additive and just keep putting fluid in until I could get it looked at. About 2 weeks later, when changing lanes I heard a distinct POP, and lost all power steering. I poured more Fluid in and PS never returned, and in fact began leaking even heavier. I am replacing the Pump today myself, but Im a little nervous about this “rack and pinion” thing I keep hearing about and am wondering if THIS was the root of all my car’s current evils? Did I just waste 80 bucks on this new pump? Did the rack and pinion leak out all the fluid in one fell swoop and cause the pump to go? HELP!

Another possible scenario is that the stop-leak caused one or more of the valves in the PS system to seize, thereby blowing the pump.

Are you sure the hoses are intact? I’m suspecting the high pressure hose blew out. Double check the high pressure side before installing the pump.

Not knowing ANYTHING about what I am doing…is it easy to get this stuff I assume is pooled somewhere in the system out, or should I just have it hauled to the mechanic?

Ooh…this doesn’t sound good. I’m at the margins of my mechanical aptitude just getting the pump off. I know it was leaking on the passenger side, so I guess I need to crawl under there and see what I can see. Thanks.

Some Fords, notably Rangers, leak a little power steering fluid if you try to turn the car beyond its limits or with the motor turned off. The first time I noticed it on my Ranger was when I had to push start my truck and was really cranking the wheel to get it out of the spot it was in. I went home and looked it up on therangerstation.com and it is something that a lot of owners noted. The stop leak might have been completely unnecessary and what VDCdriver suggested might have happened.

Is this a valve in the pump which will be replaced once the part gets to my supply store, or am I putting a band-aid (a 50$ one) on a sucking chest wound here?

Perhaps the HP hose is leaking as BustedKnuckles suggests, and when I put the additive in I destroyed the pump and THAT’s when the fluid starting pouring out at such a tremendous rate. Sound like a feasible hypothesis?

Perhaps I will replace the pump, keep the resevoir full by stopping once every few miles to top it off, and get it to the dealer to look at the hose.

Since you seem clearly in over your head, pick up a repair manual for this car from your supply store (Haynes or Chilton’s, about $20 - you can check book stores too). Then turn to the chapter on “Steering.” Read it and get to know the system.

Presumably you have fluid all over the place. You need to clean that all up as best you can and try to actually identify the leak. Did you actually look for a leak? Why did you decide to replace the pump? I suspect that either VDC and/or BustedKnuckles may be correct.

Once you are familiar with the system and have cleaned things up, do give the steering rack a good look. If something blew out there then you are putting an unnecessary band aid on the proverbial sucking chest wound. Without a lot of experience and tools (and a lift) you’re not going to replace a steering rack on your own.

In short, slow down, get a manual and figure out what you’re problem really is.

One last note - did you check your owners manual for the right type of fluid? B/c I’ll bet your manual will tell you to put Mercon V ATF fluid into the power steering system (though as I understand it, ATF & typical PS fluid are very similar).

It is hard to say without looking at it. I would trace the hoses first, looking for any leak before I replaced the pump.

I like both VDCdriver’s and BustedKnuckles’s suggestions. I really like cigroller’s suggestions of picking up a manual before you start much work.

Also check the power steering pressure switch located on the rack and pinion assembly. These plastic switches have been known to blow their tops when they age.

Tester

Thanks all. Duly chastised, cigroller, lol. I guess I saw the oil coming out of the pump and forgot about the forest while focused on the tree. I make a much better furnace guy than a car guy. I’ll slap this pump on and limp 'er over to the dealer tomorrow.

Don’t limp 'er over to the dealer - unless it is one you really know and trust. A good, local shop should be able to take care of this easily (though maybe not cheaply if it is the rack), and they will almost always do it for a lot less.

And if you slap the pump on and that solves the problem - no need to do anything except smile in satisfaction, though a good once over by a prof shop would be a good idea.

Hmmm, so would this be a good preventive maintenance item for a 2003 Taurus with 123k miles on it that has never had a power steering problem? On a related note, hydraulic power steering is less problem-prone if you notice that the owner’s manual tells you not to hold the wheel “hard over” against the stop when parking or at any other time. If you hit the stop, back the steering wheel off just a bit and your power steering will last a lot longer.

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