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Power steering fluid leak question

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Old 06-07-2014, 11:50 AM
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Default Power steering fluid leak question

Hi all.

I am looking at purchasing a 2001 A6 and the owner says that it has a significant power steering leak. It loses the fluid in about 20 minutes. He doesn't know where it's coming from and hasn't had it checked out.

My question is... Without more details, can you guys give me the worst case scenario in terms of cost and hassle? It's an avant Quattro...FWIW.

Thanks so much!
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by AT90qubed View Post
Hi all.

I am looking at purchasing a 2001 A6 and the owner says that it has a significant power steering leak. It loses the fluid in about 20 minutes. He doesn't know where it's coming from and hasn't had it checked out.

My question is... Without more details, can you guys give me the worst case scenario in terms of cost and hassle? It's an avant Quattro...FWIW.

Thanks so much!
Worst case scenario is steering rack replacement IMHO but others might thing it's p/s pump replacement. Either one is about $1k or so at the dealer; a rebuilt rack is $300-1500. The ZF racks (ECS tuning run the higher number). A p/s pump is about $350-500.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:26 PM
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Thanks for the info. Just to clarify....you mentioned it's a $1k job at the dealer but that a rack is $350 - 1500...is the $1k just labor and it might be an additional $1500 on top of that for a rack?


Anything I can check relatively easily to diagnose it? I'm a bit of a hack mechanic, just FYI!
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AT90qubed View Post
Thanks for the info. Just to clarify....you mentioned it's a $1k job at the dealer but that a rack is $350 - 1500...is the $1k just labor and it might be an additional $1500 on top of that for a rack?


Anything I can check relatively easily to diagnose it? I'm a bit of a hack mechanic, just FYI!
That was just parts cost…estimate is probably 300-400 low without labor.

And yes…you can fill the p/s reservoir and look to see where it leaks out before starting the engine. If you can't find the leak w/o starting the engine, I'd jack the car up on stands and remove the belly pan and start the car and look for leaks….if it loses fluid in 20 minutes it's going somewhere FAST!

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Old 06-08-2014, 04:59 PM
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Ah okay, thanks. I'm a little dense...

I will call around some indy mechanics tomorrow and see about getting a quote for either a steering rack or pump job. The car I am looking at is cheap enough that it still might be worth purchasing if I can get it repaired for under a $1000.

I'll see if I can borrow the car and bring it somewhere for a pre-purchase inspection too. Can I drive without power steering fluid (whether it's the pump, the rack or just a line or somerying) and it will feel like my dads 50s Chevy with no power steering? Or should it not be driven at all without power steering fluid?
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by AT90qubed
Or should it not be driven at all without power steering fluid?
You risk destroying the power steering pump. Keep the reservoir close to full and make the trips short. Most common source of power steering leaks are the hoses.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:30 AM
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Look at the boots on the ends of the rack. These are just behind the top of the front wheels. If one or both are dripping, then you have a bad rack. If dry, it could still be a bad rack leaking elsewhere or the pump or hoses. If you have to pay someone to do the rack, it will likely exceed the value of the car. It is a not easy do it yourself, at least for me. It is worth the extra money to buy a good quality rebuilt rack. Pass on the el cheapos or you might end up doing it again. Ask me how I know!

Have a nice day
Steve
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Old 06-09-2014, 08:21 AM
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My servo rack installed cost me around $1800 for parts and labor on my 3.0L.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:27 AM
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Thanks for the comments. I ended up passing on the car with the power steering leak as the guy selling it said he "didn't have time" for me to spend time checking out the car and trying to diagnose the issues and just wanted to sell it right away.

Sketchy.
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