Rack and pinion repair

subaru
forester

#1

Local AAA mechanic said slight seepage of rack & pinion fluid found during routine 40-point check; suggesting we keep an ‘eye’ on it via next 1500 mile check up. Our Subaru Forester is 4 years old with less than 10K miles. We are new to area and found local Subaru dealership service ‘questionable’ with two simple oil changes [we thought first experience was a ‘fluke’], so do not want to use them to either verify or repair. Can you recommend what action we need to take regarding slight seepage issue. Is this an emergency situation? Can appropriate repair be done outside of a dealer [vehicle is no longer under any warranty]? What is a reasonable cost window to expect for such a repair? We’re sure there are are other questions we should be asking, but don’t know what they are. Thank you very much for your help.


#2

Beware of these 40-point inspections. Monitor the level of your power steering fluid, and if it’s staying stable than you do not need a new rack. Racks, even rebuilt racks, are hundreds of dollars, and installation is labor intensive.

If you are losing fluid, any shop with an alignment machine can do the job for you. Even one without, but then you’d just have to go elsewhere to get it aligned anyway.


#3

The reality is all fluids are subject to “seepage”. In this case power steering fluid is the item and this is a very “thin” fluid. In most power steering racks the fluids are contained by seals and “boots”. A little seepage could be normal. Put some carboard under the car where you park it regularly and check for fluid spots. A drop or two now and again is not a worry. Learn where your power steering fluid fill cap is (in the owner’s manual) and check the level (when cold) periodically. If the level stays the same or drops only a bit over 6 months you have no worries.

A new rack and pinion is an expensive repair. Very unlikely in a car with so few miles.


#4

While a rack leak on a 10k miles Subaru would be a very rare thing, it can certainly happen.
Any production line item from pop up toasters to cars to aircraft will have a certain percentage of glitches so it’s always possible that you could have gotten one of that percentage.

At several times in the past, Subaru has had a few problems with steering rack leaks even on cars that were only a couple of years old.

However, at this point I would not worry too much about it if the rack is not leaving oil spots on the floor and runnng low on fluid.
Keep an eye on it for several months and see how it does during that time.

It might also help to clarify exactly where this seepage is coming from. (around the rack bellows, pinion seal, or possibly my suspect; a pressure hose fitting.)