Power Steering Leak/"Lucas Stop Leak"

We have a 2001 VW Golf w/100K+ miles and the power steering fluid’s leaking. Mechanic says a new rack/pinion and steering gear is needed. The estimate is $1K which troubles us because of the market value of the car isn’t great. So, in the meantime, I tried “Lucas Stop Leak” and it seems to work (when the fluid was completely empty, it was making that loud screeching noise). Seeing that this is a 2nd “back-up” car, my questions are these:

  1. Is it a bad idea to use Lucas (topping it off w/VW-approved steering fluid)? We rather donate the car than than to pay for the repairs. Some internet searches indicate that a lot of people drive around with a bottle of Lucas in their trunk. That is, that they avoid the repairs by using Lucas

  2. Is it dangerous to drive the car? I notice the alignment is off and that re-alignment is part of the repair job. Can I have the re-alignment done?

Any thoughts/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  1. As long as you keep the fluid topped off you should be fine, running out of fluid will damage the pump and may cause other issues (like sizeing the pump and taking out your drive belt)… The leak may or may not get worse, so keep a close eye on your levels at every fill up or more.

  2. No its not dangerous, HOWEVER if you were to run out of fluid quickly (as in the leak got real bad real fast), you may find yourself with out power stearing. While the car can be driven like this it will be very hard to do so… This is your WORST case scenario.

  3. yes a re-alignment is part of the job, but can also be done on its own if you wanted to get it done now.

The alignment may be part of the steering gear replacement job, but if you don’t plan to replace then alignment is a separate repair. Since it is not at all expensive (look for a coupon) you ought to have it done soon, else you will have excessive tire wear.

'Stop Leak" products work by softening the rubber seal that is leaking so it can conform to the shaft better…It makes the seals more pliable. But you can overdue it…Too much of the stuff and the seal is softened to the point it fails completely…You can buy power steering fluid with stop-leak and just keep the fluid topped up with that…

Thank you all for your help. Sincerely appreciate it.