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I’ve had two shops tell me that I should replace my rack and pinion system because there’s a leak. Also had a shop really emphasize that my lower ball joints needed to be replaced. I usually do most of my work with a lower cost mechanic who doesn’t try to oversell repairs. Since the power steering fluid is a slow leak and the car is running great with no crunching sounds on turns or bumps he thought I could keep driving as is. The car has 220,000 miles is a 2005 V6 AWD. I recently replaced all four struts with KYB struts and boots and replaced the sway bar links at that time. Are there dangers of driving a car with worn rack and pinion and worn lower ball joints until they start making noise or making a noticeable difference with steering?
 

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Ball joints are unloaded when you lift by the frame or rockers, pull in and out on the wheel while you observe the bellows on the joint to see if there is any play. If so replace. A slightly leaking rack can go a while, just don't let the fluid get low.
 

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where is the rack leaking? If it's a seal, use some Maxx life tranny fluid to top the reservoir off, or better yet drain and fill the reservoir with it. That should seal it up for you in no time.
 

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I’ve had two shops tell me that I should replace my rack and pinion system because there’s a leak. Also had a shop really emphasize that my lower ball joints needed to be replaced. I usually do most of my work with a lower cost mechanic who doesn’t try to oversell repairs. Since the power steering fluid is a slow leak and the car is running great with no crunching sounds on turns or bumps he thought I could keep driving as is. The car has 220,000 miles is a 2005 V6 AWD. I recently replaced all four struts with KYB struts and boots and replaced the sway bar links at that time. Are there dangers of driving a car with worn rack and pinion and worn lower ball joints until they start making noise or making a noticeable difference with steering?
220k is a lot of miles, the the car is at least 15 years old. I don't think I'd wait. You're in no danger, btw. It's just the mess of leaking PS fluid on the underside of your car and whereever you might park. You can get a rebuilt unit fro Rock Auto for between $200 to $300 exchange or a new one for $400 and change. Or if your mechanic can do the work, you can get a seal kit for $25 to about $40. You should replace the tierod ends at the same time.
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While they're doing the work, investigate replacing the ball joints and lower control arms. New control arms should include new bushings and ball joints and aren't expensive, about $50 each. All are fairly easy to replace.

You WILL need to have an alignment. At the same time have them check the rear axle alignment, too.
 

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If you put tranny fluid in the power steering it will leak. Only dextron 3, I know trashed my system.

where is the rack leaking? If it's a seal, use some Maxx life tranny fluid to top the reservoir off, or better yet drain and fill the reservoir with it. That should seal it up for you in no time.
 

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Better to go with Dex IV.

I tried it after looking up specs, and seeing several comments (on other MBs) that mentioned improved performance with D4.

They weren't exaggerating. It's an upgrade, of sorts, and I won't use anything else until I run across something that's even better.
 

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ADDITIONALLY:

If you have any reason to suspect that the current ball joints might give you any sort of problem (believe me, you don't want to lose one in a curve at freeway speeds), replace them both.

$30 / each is far less of a cost than the damage that they will cause if they let loose--not to mention the potential loss of life.
 

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At your car's age and mileage I'd do the ball joints, rack, and tie rods for peace of mind. While it's not super dangerous, you do not want the PS fluid to run low enough where it starves the PS pump.

My old 2001 HL rack leaked (@110K miles) and the 2005 RX330 that replaced it LEAKED TOO (@80k mikes). These early Lexyotas SUVs are just plagued with power steering rack issues, took my camry rack to 200K and never a drop of ATF from it.

Both got rebuilt racks from Detroit Axle on eBay alongside Valvoline Max-Life Full Syn ATF.
 
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