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trypaw's avatar

Power steering hose leak dangerous?

Asked by trypaw (327 points ) September 22nd, 2012

My car has a power steering hose leak. It has for several months. It leaks and I have to fill it a couple times a month I fill it with Lucas power steering stop leak (as recommended by a mechanic) to maybe stop the leak. I was told it is pin sized and replacing the hose wasn’t to necessary at the time. Well I saw forums online saying a leaking power steering hose is dangerous and can cause a fire? If it can why hasn’t any of the mechanics I’ve asked about it told me? They all said I could drive the car fine and just fill it. Tonight as I parked and left my car on idle it smoked kind of bad under the engine (under the hood behind the engine where the hose leads down, I smelt it through the vents while the heater was on. It soon stopped and then just lightly smoked from the hood like usual .(I’m aware it does leak and smoke sometimes) I’m a little worried and need to know how serious this leak is? Is it dangerous?

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12 Answers

jerv's avatar

I am not a fan of having flammable liquid spraying under my hood where it may hit metal that is hot enough to sear a steak. It may smoke now, but there is a definite non-zero chance of it eventually catching. If it were leaking somewhere where it did not produce smoke, I would say that it’s fine, but it isn’t so I won’t; either fix it, or just toss a match under the hood right now and end the suspense. Hoses are a cheap fix anyways, probably cheaper than stop-leak.

trypaw's avatar

@jerv So your saying that it will catch fire eventually? Because I was told wrong then. And to replace the hose is 200$ I’ve spent quite a lot lately on my car. 300 for brakes just last week. I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t stop me and tell me how serious of a problem this apparently is? My engine also doesn’t overheat if that brings any significance. I’m not driving a overheating smoking car.

jerv's avatar

If it costs that much, it must be on the high pressure side, and stop-leak won’t help that; it cannot handle those types of pressures any more than you could lift your car. High pressure leaks often turn into blowouts if left alone too long.

Also, an engine doesn’t have to overheat to have hot parts. Even a perfectly functioning engine will have exhaust temperatures of many hundreds of degrees, and that hot exhaust will dump some of it’s heat into the exhaust system. Sure, the exhaust may be cool by the time it comes out the tailpipe, but near the manifold and all, you will get injured if you touch it with your bare hands. Hell, an acquaintance of mine made a mistake bolting his carburetor to the intake manifold, resulting in a fuel leak. There were no salvageable parts wen that thing went up, and it’s a good thing it was parked when that hot engine finally caught.

After that, and having a similar thing happen to my stepdad when the fuel line on his motorcycle went, I am a little more sensitive to flammable liquid on engine blocks than some people.

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dabbler's avatar

Another hazard to consider is, based on @jerv‘s smart deduction that it’s a high-pressure-side leak that may blowout, how manageable is your car if you suddenly lose power-steering?
And he’s right that if it smokes, that means the leaking fluid is hitting something hot and it could combust.

I know 200$ is a lot more than nothin’, but as I noticed when we spent about 400$ on a repair last month, it’s a lot less than a new car.

zenvelo's avatar

Compare the $200 to what you’ve spent buying a quart of Power Steering fluid a couple of times a month for several months, and for months more. Pay for the repair and stop having to worry about your car.

trypaw's avatar

Well yes I am going to get it fixed but have no idea when an appointment would be available. So is it not safe to drive my car places until it is fixed? Because I have been driving for 3 months with it and am angry everybody in town that I called told me it was fine to drive. also @zenvelo Ive spent $10 in three months on one bottle of stop leak p/s fluid. Its still lasting me. I never said it was just squirting out. It drips. I cant even get anything to squirt out if I turn my steering wheel. I just don’t understand.

trypaw's avatar

How can I tell if I have variable steering? So I can find the right hose.

filmfann's avatar

It is dangerous to drive, because of the fire hazard, or sudden increase in leaking causes you to no longer be able to steer the car.
It is also dangerous to local wildlife, because the oil leaked ends up in the storm drains, which usually ends up in local creeks and waterways.

RocketGuy's avatar

Track down where the leak is flowing. On my car the fluid from my P/S leak dripped onto the timing belt. That would have caused it to fail early – a >$400 repair.

trypaw's avatar

Well I got it replaced with help from a friend, only took almost seven hours but worth it! Thanks everyone! Glad I got it done! :)

Mauro's avatar

Look I have the same problem as we speak. It is very dangerous because it can cause your belt to slip really bad to the point it comes off. Then your car will overheat and you won’t be able to steer. You don’t want that

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