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Old 11-15-2005, 09:18 PM
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leak in power steering hose/line

I have been getting a few drops on the garage floor of what I THINK is power steering fluid. (Car is a 1991 420SEL (W126).) But it is dripping from farther forward than I would expect, from in front of the radiator. There is a metal tube/line that runs from the driver side, in front of the bottom edge of the radiator, and then doubles back. This line is oily, and is where the drip seems to come from. It looks like the line is from the power steering system. Is it basically a simple "cooler" for the power steering fluid? Or am I just not seeing where this line is routed from correctly?

What I can't tell yet is whether this metal line is actually leaking (seems unlikely), or if the leak is actually from somewhere else around the PS reservoir/pump area (or one of the hoses), and is just dripping onto the metal line. (On the other hand, it seems strange that the fluid would wind its way all the way to where the metal line runs along the front of the radiator, even if that is the lowest point of the metal line.)

Anyone seen anything like this before? I'm going to clean everything off as best I can, and then try to see if I can spot the source of the leak.

For what it's worth, the transmission fluid line to the transmission fluid cooler in the radiator area is clean/dry looking. And I don't really see any sign of leaking from the radiator, nor from the transmission cooler itself. But maybe that's what the real culprit is, given the location of the oily mess on the metal line (at the front lower edge of the radiator).

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Old 11-15-2005, 10:28 PM
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Usually the power steering return lines rot and leak, this is very common on W126's. Check those out.
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Old 11-16-2005, 05:04 PM
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Hatteras Guy,

Thanks for the reply. In looking closer last night, it looks like I had two related problems, both with the low-pressure return hose to the power-steering pump. The clamp on the lower end of the hose (where it fits over the metal "cooling line" that runs out to in front of the radiator) wasn't tight. So I think this is the source for most, if not all, of the fluid that dripped out. It still surprises me a bit that the leaking fluid apparently ran down along the length of the cooling pipe, including the horizontal section that is in front of the radiator, but I don't see any other source. The outcome of this leak was that most of the length of the cooling pipe in front of the radiator was covered in gunk, and also that excess fluid also dripped from there onto the ground.

The second thing I found was a small crack in the upper end of the same return hose, just outside of the clamped area (i.e., just past where the metal pipe from the power steering pump ends). This little crack was oozing a small amount of fluid. I don't think this is/was enough to account for all of the gunk on the cooling pipe, since there was no real sign of dripping from the little crack. But, it is enough so that I will replace the hose, rather than simply tighten up the loose clamp on the lower end.

Interestingly, the hose itself costs $41 (for a 1 meter length, which is probably enough for two cars) at the dealer, even though it is basically just a plain rubber hose of 12mm ID. A couple of online vendors have it at around $24 (also a 1 meter section), but I also found one vendor who sells it for $14. I could probably just buy some generic hose at Kragen for less, but I ended up ordering the $14 hose.

I am hoping that there is no other problem with the metal cooling line itself.
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Old 11-16-2005, 05:13 PM
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Yeah those lines are usually the problem. I ordered mine from Fastlane and I think I paid less then $20 for a length. I am sure any quality hydrolic hose will work.

Since the lines will be off draining most of the system you should change the filter and PS fluid while you are at it.

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