Seeking some guidance again from this awesome online community. This time it’s my wife’s car - 2005 Mazda 6, 4-cyl engine, 143,000 miles. Serpentine belt started making a horrible whining noise, got much louder and whinier when turning the steering wheel. I added a moderate amount of power steering fluid to bring the reservoir to full, I’m guessing 1/8 of a bottle. Made no difference in the noise. I got under the car today and there is definitely a power steering fluid leak. Oil and transmission plugs and pans are bone dry, but there was oily fluid caught in the plastic cover you have to remove to access anything underneath the car. At first I suspected the steering pump was leaking, as there was more fluid on that side than the other. But, then I checked the frame the runs underneath the rack. There was fluid along the top side of the frame, on the same side where I had observed the power steering fluid inside the plastic vanity cover.
So, I now suspect a leaking rack, causing low fluid levels, causing the pump to go bad as well. Is there any other likely scenario? I do wonder how a loss of only 1/8 of a bottle of steering fluid could cause the pump to fail. Any other things I can check to narrow things down? And, is there any kind of “stop leak” substance I could try, without running the risk of mucking things up inside the rack, as radiator stop leak substances sometimes do to cooling systems?
And, if this is both a leaking rack and failing pump, does it make a difference which I replace first? The pump is within my mechanical abilities, but the rack is probably more than I could handle on my own.
I appreciate any advice. Thanks.