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... If you begin a routine of draining the hydraulic fluid bottle, and replacing with new/clean fluid, you should be able to avoid a leaking rack and pinion.
My rack was leaking, someplace, when I got the car at 45k miles. The fluid in the bottle in the engine compartment was just about black in color.
I started draining and refilling ... quite a few times at first. It wasn't too long before the hydraulic fluid leak stopped completely. Now I drain and refill the hydraulic fluid at every oil change ... about once a year.
To drain the hydraulic fluid bottle, I just remove the lower hose at the bottle on the side of the fender, and quickly place a 3 foot drain hose on the outlet. Be sure to open the bottle cap on top, so the fluid can drain out.
There is a generic hydraulic fluid available at the local Toyota dealer here.
I think it might have some additives that are beneficial.
I have seen one or two posts on how you can actually flush the entire hydraulic system. You can search the forum on this topic and see what you want to do.
However, if you don't address this problem immediately, you might run into something in the immediate future.
... Also, it would be a good idea to drain and flush the transmission fluid, as has been previously suggested. I think this will solve your shifting problems immediately. Be sure to use the correct fluids when you drain and flush.
former owner 98 Camry LE, 2.2L, automatic
54k miles, drop in K&N A/F,
... timing belt, water pump, NSS
Last edited by dc_98_cam; 09-14-2013 at 05:11 AM.