No Power Steering, No Problem?

My rack and pinion in my 1999 Taurus has a vaccum leak that causes the power steering fluid to overflow, thus I have little to no fluid and no power steering in the vehicle. I don’t mind driving without it and I’d rather not invest the mucho dinero to get it fixed. Am I causing damage to my vehicle by driving it in this condition?

You’re risking your life and the lives of everyone on the road by not having the power steering fixed. You can’t steer quickly enough in an emergency without the power steering. It’s not a money issue, it’s a safety issue. Fix it.

It would be different if the car did not have power steering in the first place. The steering would be a lttle slower but light enough when the car was moving to quickly control it. With power steering inoperative the car is much more difficult to control.

As suggested, please get it fixed immediately, or ground the car until you can afford to fix it.

The pinion gear turns the rack. In most vehicles this part is grease lubricated, not lubricated with power steering fluid. The power cylinder, however, holds powersteering fluid. If the lack of fluid were to cause binding, that might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I mean, you’re already over exerting yourself as it is and the extra effort required if binding occurs (especially if you’re in the middle of a turn)–could be catastrophic. That’s just [i]binding[i/]. What if it seizes?

You’re risking your life and the lives of others. You must remember that driving a power steering car without a functioning pump is not driving a car with manual steering, you’re having to work against the hydraulics in the power steering system.

There’s also a liability issue involved. If you were to get into an accident, and it was discovered that it resulted in your negligence to keep your car in working order, there’s a good chance you’ll get taken to the cleaners, I wouldn’t count on insurance covering it either.

No offense to the OPer, or anyone else, but this is why some states have safety inspections.

Vacuum leak?

Jumping the pressure hose to the return hose will give you manual steering. It will operate just like it never had power steering, i.e., won’t be any more difficult to steer than a non-power steering model. Jumping the hoses at the pump keeps the pump from running dry and seizing, causing all accessories to fail.

For the sticklers for details, yes, the manual steering systems usually have more turns lock to lock and would be nominally easier to steer when stopped than the cobbled up mess I proposed but it ain’t noticeable. It has been done on all makes and models with all types of steering.

No one has addressed the Vacuum leak. What kind of vacuum leak would have anything to do with the steering??

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It’s a leak on the suction side of the pump. Air bubbles get sucked into the pump and it causes the power steering fluid to foam. It’s not all that uncommon. It’s also usually not all that hard to fix.

Suction side of the pump???

There is no negative pressure anywhere in the system. It cannot “suck” air bubbles in. If the pump is full of fluid and noisy with bubbles foaming out the top you may have contaminated fluid or the pump could be totally worn out and cavitating.

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"There is no negative pressure anywhere in the system."
Frankly, it is clear that you have never worked on these, and you don’t know what you are talking about.

I also must admit I have never applied the term “vacuum leak” to any power steering diagnosis I have done. I have seen FORD pumps become very noisy and make the fluid foam (never affected power steering feel) so I am in the group that does not apply the term “vacuum leak” to a power steering diagnosis. If the car needs a pump, put a pump on it, if it needs a hose put a hose on it, if it needs a rack, sell it.

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Thank you for the passionate advise, everyone. I will be getting it fixed, it’s a car worth the investment for me. I could use your advise on my Dodge Stratus question as well. Thanks.

I am eagerly awaiting your technical expertise on thie issue, tardis. My only knowledge is from the day to day knuckle busting end of the prolem. I will beg the forgiveness of all who have been miss-informed by me.

The negative pressure in the system is in the suction hose from the reservoir to the pump. There’s a screen at the bottom of the reservoir that is a slight flow restriction. This flow restriction results in slight negative pressure (vacuum) in the suction side of the pump. This negative pressure allows air to be sucked in. There’s an o-ring on the pump that is usually the source of the problem.
I don’t know how you think that a pump can have high pressure on one side and not low on the other. Maybe if the suction hose where 1 foot in diameter, there wouldn’t be enough restriction to cause any negative pressure, but as it is, it is not nearly that size. Also, your statement would be pretty close to true if the reservoir was a part of the pump like they used to be in the old days, however that is not the case here.

If anyone is still interested, It was for sure the rack and pinion. There was fluid leeking from the boot, and she runs like a champ after a changed it out.

Hint: In the bottom of your P.S. Fluid reservoir, there is a filter screen…If it gets plugged up with debris, they pump will indeed pull a vacuum and make a lot of noise…You might check it…

Karl thinks State Safety Inspections catch problems like this…Not in any state I have ever lived in…

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Yes, definitely. You can drive a power steering vehicle without steering fluid because power steering fluid not actually turns or steers your vehicle but reduces your effort in steering. Without it you can steer but with a greater effort. You have to apply more torque to the steering wheel and would feel more resistance in your arms. But the vehicle would turn for sure.

In any power steering vehicle in case of hydraulic pump failure or leakage of steering fluid the steering system acts just as any other non power steering vehicle. You will feel a great difference in the driving experience but not much difficulty if you have driven a non power steered vehice before.