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fjacky 11-28-2010 11:46 AM

Power steering-cant keep topped up
1997 cavalier. I've filled it up with those stop leak products but still can't keep it topped up. I cannot see any visible leaking.


Possible easy fixes?


Bigplanz 11-28-2010 12:02 PM

38 Attachment(s)
Start the car, let it warm up. Turn the steering wheel from one side to the other about ten times, slowly. Don't stress the steering, just gently turn from one side to the other. Then open the hood and check the pressure line fitting at the pump. If it is wet, you've found your leak. If not, then you have a leak down at the rack (probably). It's almost always the pressure line that leaks. If you can get under the car safely, you can DIY but it's messy and you have to replace the power steering fluid. The pressure line on my Olds was a PITA. I was filthy when I was done, but didn't spend $180 for the repair either. Tip: wear safety glasses under the car. It is a rain of crud that comes down when you take the line off. One of those plastic hair cover things like they wear in commercial kitchens is a good idea too. You will get FILTHY.

Bondo 11-28-2010 05:08 PM


Possible easy fixes?
Ayuh,... Exremely Unlikely....

Bigplanz has a good plan to find the problem,... Ya just gotta Look harder....

47_47 11-29-2010 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by Bigplanz (Post 541720)
then you have a leak down at the rack (probably)

Agree with Bigplanz, remove an inner tie rod bellows boot clamp. It is probably storing the fluid.

ratherbefishin' 11-29-2010 12:42 PM


Originally Posted by 47_47 (Post 542259)
Agree with Bigplanz, remove an inner tie rod bellows boot clamp. It is probably storing the fluid.

Yup, had that problem recently with my daughter's '01 VW Cabrio. The fix is replace the rack with a rebuilt. Replacing the seals isn't a DIY job and most shops won't mess with racks these days, they just swap it out and send the old one to a rebuilder. The Cabrio is a PITA to work on, many are easier, don't know about the Cavalier. Good luck!

Bigplanz 11-29-2010 05:53 PM

38 Attachment(s)
Replacing a rack on a Cavalier isn't particularly 'hard' but it is a challenge for anyone without the right equipment. Pull the boot, if fluid comes out, yeah, replace the rack is the only sensible solution. I checked, and a new one can be had at Autozone for $150. The PITA parts are: getting it out (major PITA, which can involve pulling out the power brake booster if it is in the way of above access) and which will require some jackstands, an impact wrench (good one) to get the bolts off and (maybe) dropping the frame rail five inches to pull the thing out through the wheel well. Yeah, it's that fun of a job!

Then, you have to drain all the fluid, which isn't really hard since it is gonna come gushing out when you disconnect the lines, but you should replace the pressure and return line and the pump too if you are replacing the rack. The pump and lines get crud in them and that crud will go straight into your brand new rack, thus, well, ruining it. Pump, $40, return line $54, pressure line $32, Oh, and new fluid.

Essentially, you are replacing the entire power steering system on a 13 year old car for about $300 and 10-12 hours of DIY work.

You might want to just keep topping it off. :)

47_47 11-30-2010 06:21 AM

Another word of caution, make sure that the steering wheel is centered and locked before removing the old rack from the steering shaft and the new rack is centered before installing. If not, you will damage and need to replace the SIR coil.

ratherbefishin' 11-30-2010 11:27 AM


fjacky, what stop leak did you use? Lucas is the only one I've ever found to really work, and then only if it's just minor seal leaks.

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