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Help! Power steering return hose leaking

01-10-2009, 03:54 PM
Does anyone know the size of the power steering return line hose? I think I have finally pinpointed my PS leak. It looks like the fluid is leaking out where the rubber hose meets a metal coupling(?). I had read that this is a known occurrence.
Also, any advice on repairing would be appreciated.


01-11-2009, 11:42 PM
Hello My parents had the same problem with their cavelir and what my mechanic and I did was pinch the line off (so fluid will not keak all over) cut the line off were the metal comes out leave 3 to 4" of metal. Pull off the other end out and then just join the to ends together this will elimanat the metal line and it will never leak again good luck

02-23-2009, 01:06 PM
You may have done the repair already, but I just did this yesterday so it is fresh in my mind. I don't know the exact size of the hose. I took the old return hose to Autozone and they just matched up the size. They sold me transmission oil cooler hose. I was told there also that there is an oem replacement for the return hose but only dealerships have it.

Anyway, it was a more involved project than I thought. The three sentences the manual or websites give for the repair took me about 10 hours and I have a lot of tools and am at least moderate mechanic.

Remove as much fluid from the reservoir as possible. Have something handy to plug the lines when you remove them.

In order to remove the pressure and return lines at the pump I had to remove the bolts for the cruise control unit and loosen the coolant tank so that I had access. Use a 5/8" line wrench on the pressure fitting, my 16mm started to round the nut.

Jack up all four corners of the car and remove at least the front DS wheel. It will help. I found quickly that my hand and wrench did not fit easily for removing the fittings at the steering rack. Thus, I was forced to remove the rear subframe bolts and lower motor mount bolts/nuts and loosen the front ones. You'll need 15mm shallow and deep, 21mm or 13/16", and 18mm. A 24" breaker bar helped. Drop the frame with a jack a few inches.

Now you can get at the 18mm fittings at the rack. I used about 4 different length and type wrenches for these. I ended up using the long combo wrench to break the fittings loose, but as a last resort since I didn't want to round them off. Once loose, remove the plastic clamp on the steering rack and pull the works through the bottom.

Now remove the other (return line) fitting, which is even more fun since it is located farther into the grimy abbyss. Remove the fasteners holding the return line metal "loop" under the car. I used a loong extention with a deep 10mm and flex joint on the top nut for this.

I took the time to remove the alternator just to make room. It doesn't add much time and was worth if for the room. Take a picture of the arrangement before doing this. It would have helped me.

Pull the lines out through the bottom. Take care that not too much fluid leaks all over. Now is when I went to the store and got a replacement return hose. He advised against my plan, which was to cut off the crimps and use hose clamps for the new attachment points. Time will tell I guess.

I spanned the new hose from the rack fitting to the metal line around the alternator. I used an extra spring clamp and a worm drive clamp on the lower part of the hose, then used a worm drive clamp on the top part since if that leaks it is more accessible. Don't fasten the top part yet, I left the top of the return hose under the car for flushing the system at the end of the job. I skipped the whole metal "loop" under the car, too. I reused the heat and abrasion protectors from the old hose.

The new pressure hose is more of a pain, but snake that through from the bottom and fasten it into the rack. Try not to get gunk in any of the hose openings, which will be hard to do.

Now the pressure hose is sticking up by the engine and you have the metal line for the return. Make sure they are positioned correctly and wont be rubbing on the exhaust or anything. Look at your picture of the arrangement before you took it apart 8 hours ago and try to replace them similarily. Clamp the return hose in and tighten the pressure fitting. Position them in the alternator clamp and replace the alternator. Add a few minutes to re-route the belt after it slips off of half the pulleys.

Now the subframe and motor mount bolts get tightened back up. Torque everything as required, but do not torque the 13/16" "bushing bolts" until the car is lowered (per Haynes manual).

Now double check that everything is hooked up and you didn't leave any tools in there (because you will have a lot of tools sprawled all over the place). Plug the return line connected to the pump. Fill with cheap PS fluid (since you will be wasting it). Point the return line under the car into a container or pan. Start the engine for about 2 seconds. Fill back up again. Repeat. Turn the wheel to fill the rack with fluid. Don't run the pump dry!

When the fluid coming from the return line is clear and clean, route it back up to the metal line and secure it with a clamp. Continue to bleed the system by filling to cold, running the engine and turning from lock to lock. Eventually the level will hold. The fluid was foamy sometimes, so I let it sit for a few.

Check for leaks, lower the car, and torque the bushing bolts. My pump was still noisy this morning; I think there is still air in the system. It was also 4 deg F so that didn't help.

Results are not guaranteed; I have yet to see if my leak goes away. If not, I may need to replace the rack. Hope this helps anyone needing to do this. My main advice is make sure you have a day to do this. An 18mm flare nut crowfoot wrench would have helped too...

02-25-2009, 09:51 AM
You dont have to do anything so complex. I mine just broke 2 weeks ago. Took it to Canadian tire for a check up. They said oh your return hose and high pressure hose are leaking. Ya right. All in all they quoted me 900$ to fix it after everything. Well I told them where to go and brought it back home. Jacked it up and the part that rubber hose meets a metal coupling, I put a plumbers clamp to hold it. Just to be sure I put 2 clamps on it. Hasnt leaked since. Fixed the problem. All I can say is F**K off Canadian tire.

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