car only leaks power steering fluid in cold weather - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 10-29-2011, 06:00 PM
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car only leaks power steering fluid in cold weather

Last winter, my 1998 Camry started leaking power steering fluid at a very slow rate. I kept an eye on the levels and only had to add a tiny bit of fluid every week or two. Once the weather warmed up in the spring and summer, the car stopped leaking power steering fluid completely. My car is once again leaking power steering fluid at a slow rate now that the weather is turning cooler. Why does the temperature have an effect on how quickly the power steering fluid leaks?

Last winter, I took the car into two different mechanics to get estimates on fixing the problem. One mechanic said that only the pump needed to be replaced and the other mechanic said the rack and pump were both faulty. I do not know who to believe and didn't want to pay another mechanic for a diagnostic fee. Since the leak is very slow and I am not experiencing any steering noises or problems, which is the most likely cause for my leak? Is there any risks associated with using Lucas Stop Leak or similar products? I can afford to replace the pump but replacing the rack and pinion is too costly. I do not like the mess the leak is making in my garage so I'd like to do something to slow the leak or stop it. Any advice would be appreciated.

1998 Camry LE 4 cylinder (106K)
1996 Camry LE - SOLD

Last edited by twocamrys; 10-29-2011 at 06:01 PM.
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#2 Old 10-29-2011, 06:29 PM
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Cold weather = seals contract.

Suck out everything the reservoir and fill it with Lucas power steering stop leak. The stuff works miracles.
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#3 Old 10-29-2011, 07:36 PM
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It's always a good ideal to siphon out the PS fluid in the reservoir and refill with new ATF once a year or every other oil change. This keeps the junk in the fluid low so the ATF doesn't become too abrasive.

If Lucas PS Stop Leak helps, then just run with it. Otherwise you should be able to see where the ATF is leaking and tell if only the pump or the rack body need replacing. There is also a PS pump seal kit for about $20 if you can rebuild your own. This kit of course doesn't include the pump shaft if a groove is worn into it by the seal spring.

I'd recommend refilling the reservoir with Mobil-1 (use Advance Auto coupon code to get it close to $5.6/qt). Or use Walmart SuperTech Mercon-V. It's better than plain dino Dexron III.

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#4 Old 12-27-2011, 05:09 PM
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I have the same problem with my 1998 Camry V6. Power Steering leaks only in winter. Lucas stop leak is of no help. What did you end up doing?
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#5 Old 02-09-2014, 09:16 PM
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My 1997 Camry XLE V6 (264 000km) leaks as well. Last winter I discovered one day my PS reservoir was nearly empty. The lines to and from the tank were a little greasy. Toyota refilled it and said that it might be a good idea to replace the pump. However, the weather started warming up and there was no change in the PS fluid level.

This winter it started leaking again, but this time I noticed that the area around my driver side steering rack boot was very greasy, and leaking PS fluid from somewhere around there. I check it every few weeks and top off the fluid.

So I don't really want to spend the money on replacing the PS pump or steering rack as I am replacing the vehicle within the 15 months or so.

Is it possible that the extreme cold weather makes the leak worse by contracting the metal/rubber parts? I park in a heated garage, so the vehicle goes through a lot of warn/cold cycles.

I am hoping the steering rack and PS pump will survive (with me topping up the fluid) until I am ready to buy a new vehicle.

Any input appreciated, thanks!
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#6 Old 02-09-2014, 10:22 PM
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My 98 Camry had a slow leak at about 45 kmiles. I made a determined effort to complete several drain, drive, and refill cycles. ... Just drain the PS reservoir bottle on the fender, and refill with clean fluid. The leak has completely disappeared.

I used two or three different PS fluids ... one had some sort of teflon.
I think it important to use something with an additive of some sort.

Now, I regularly drain and refill at every oil change ... once a year. I buy a Toyota dealer recommended PS fluid ... at the Toyota parts counter. It was said to be fine for any Toyota PS system.

I think you can extend the life of your PS system, if there is not a major problem.

98 Camry LE, 2.2L, automatic
54k miles, drop in K&N A/F, ... timing belt, water pump, NSS
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#7 Old 02-10-2014, 03:09 AM
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With such a minor leak, put a tray under the car, even a sheet of cardboard on the garage floor.
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#8 Old 02-10-2014, 09:20 AM
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I used Lucas hydraulic booster and stop leak in the entire system, (it is same as the P/S stop leak but less expensive and without the red dye).

I had a corroded supply line that was leaking badly, ATF just dribbled out.

Steering will be stiff for the first minute or so in the cold weather, but once it circulates, it will be fine.

2004 RX330 Sport
2003 Cam I4 XLE
2000 Cam XLE Gold Edition V6
1998 CamCE I4 Super Commuter!
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