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2009 LT. The vehicle was driven for approximately 2 months with a power steering fluid leak, re-filling the fluid as needed. I located the leak at a section of the return line. When I removed the old line, it broke right in half. I replaced the return line and the leak was fixed.

Several days after I completed the repair, a new power steering fluid leak began at the power steering rack bellow that the tie rod ends go into.

1.) Is it true that if a seal goes bad where the inner tie rod connects to the rack, that fluid will fill the bellow, which can cause the bellow to expand and eventually break?

2.) If the leak is a bad seal (which I am almost certain it is) , is it true that it is not possible to replace the bad seal only, and that the whole rack needs to be replaced?

3.) Is it possible that the seal could have been worn out from the vehicle being driven for 2 months with a leak?

Thanks in advance for any input
 

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1.) Is it true that if a seal goes bad where the inner tie rod connects to the rack, that fluid will fill the bellow, which can cause the bellow to expand and eventually break?
It depends. I'm not sure if the fluid leaking there is under pressure (from the pump), if that part of the rack is pressurized. No doubt, if the rack is leaking, fluid will collect in the bellows. But I'm not sure if the bellows will be blown off the end of the rack, or if it will simply start leaking.



2.) If the leak is a bad seal (which I am almost certain it is) , is it true that it is not possible to replace the bad seal only, and that the whole rack needs to be replaced?
I'm not sure. I think, for most re-manufactured racks, that replacing the seals is the bulk of the reman process, but I'm not sure the details of how they are replaced.

That means, I've always replaced them when there was a problem. If I thought I could have fixed one, I surely would :)

Looking on Rockauto (assuming the LT has a 3.9, but that probably doesn't matter) I see new and reman racks in the price range 110 to 370 dollars, with core exchange.

Not sure how difficult it is on a 2009, if you can swap it without dropping the subframe. The last one I did, on a Ford Fusion, we were able to get it out without that, despite the Haynes book saying that we had to drop the subframe. Needless to say, that was a very pleasant surprise. That is, if you attempt this yourself, it would be nice to know that detail before you start. You don't want any surprises. For some, dropping the subframe is a deal-breaker, understandably.

Hopefully, someone here has done a rack on that generation and can chime in.

BTW, one last thought: Get a bottle of Lucas power steering stop leak and give it a try. I've had mechanics I trust advocate that stuff. It may not stop the leak, but if it slows it down appreciably, you might put off the repair for a while.

If you do swap the rack, be sure to flush out the lines before connecting everything back together.



3.) Is it possible that the seal could have been worn out from the vehicle being driven for 2 months with a leak?
I doubt it. As long as you kept replenishing the fluid, I cannot see that causing a problem. And, if it did cause a problem, I would expect the pump to have been damaged, not the rack.

HTH.
Doug

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