One fine day in the middle of the night, I noticed that the power steering in my 2002 Hyundai Accent wasn't acting right.
Okay. It was in the afternoon, really. But the symptoms were classic. I could hear my power steering pump making a loud whirring noise, the kind of noise power steering pumps make when they're out of fluid. And it had become very difficult to steer.
I checked the power steering fluid reservoir. It was empty. I filled it. Seconds later, it was empty again. I had a leak.
Repairing the power steering leak on my 2002 Hyundai Accent turned out to be an intermediate-level car repair project that involved a variety of tools, a creative solution, a few failures along the way, and me bleeding. If you're new to auto repair, this kind of thing will certainly help you become more comfortable under the hood.
But first, a warning: the power steering pump has a spinning pulley and a belt. Near the belt there are other spinning pulleys and belts. If you get your fingers caught in any of these pulleys or belts, you will suffer serious injuries. So be extremely careful, and never attempt this sort of repair with the engine running. Also, you might want to wear gloves for a repair like this, because even the non-moving parts under the hood of a car can hurt you.
After some investigation, I found that the hard line that ran from the power steering fluid reservoir to the steering rack was leaking. The line is attached to the car's body below the strut tower, held in place with a clamp and a rubber insulator. The power steering line had become corroded where it had rubbed against the insulator. I shot this photo after I'd removed the bolts from the power steering fluid reservoir, and disconnected the line:
Here's the corroded area of the power steering line. This line is under some pressure, so although it didn't have a large hole in it, the fluid leaked out very quickly.
This is the rubber insulator that protects the line from the clamp that holds the line to the side of the strut tower.
Car repair can be painful. I managed to hit my thumb pretty hard on something sharp.
My initial plan was to cut out the corroded piece of the power steering line and replace it with some rubber hose. I was going to try do this without removing the line from the car. And I'm glad I didn't, because that would have been an absolute nightmare. Ultimately I found a much better solution: slide the rubber hose over the corroded area of the line, clamp the hose in place, and seal the leak while retaining the structural integrity of the line.
I found a piece of hose on a shelf in my basement which just happened to be the correct diameter. I cut a length of hose, and slid it onto the line. And pushed, and pulled, and twisted, and coaxed, and flexed my car-repair muscles, but the hose wouldn't budge. I needed it to move another few inches up the line, and it wouldn't.
So I used a utility knife to cut off the hose, and tried again, with some power steering fluid as a lubricant.
This time I got the hose almost an inch further onto the line than last time:
Right around this time, I managed to drop something deep into the bowels of my engine compartment, between the engine mount and the various belts and pulleys. I forget what I dropped, but I shot this photo to remind me (and you) that dropping things is inevitable in car repair.
Since the hose still hadn't made it far enough onto the line to cover the leak, I decided to cut it off and try a third time, with some PB Blaster to lubricate the hose. I knew that PB Blaster would basically turn the inside of the hose into glue, so I had to work fast. I got the hose on a little further than before, but not far enough.
Finally I realized that if I cut off the section of hose that was stuck on the ridged part of the line, then maybe I could slide the rest of the hose further up the line:
And it worked. In this photo, the hose is completely covering the corroded, leaky part of the hard line.
Most car repairs involve a trip to the auto parts store. I was hoping to avoid that, but unfortunately the only hose clamp I had on my workbench was too big for this job:
So I hopped on a bicycle (because obviously I couldn't drive my car with the power steering line disconnected), pedaled to AutoZone, and bought some hose clamps:
I clamped the hose firmly in place so it wouldn't leak, and reinstalled the rubber grommet:
Then I reinstalled the line:
A car repair wouldn't be the same if I didn't drop a bunch of stuff, so here's one of the nuts from the coolant overflow tank, which I had to remove to access the line. I dropped the nut onto the engine just below the valve cover. I was lucky. It could have gone much deeper!
In this photo, I've reconnected the line, bolted the power steering fluid reservoir back in place and reattached the coolant overflow tank. The repaired section of the line is down on the side of the strut tower.
And here are the tools and supplies I used for this repair: 3/8" and 1/4" Craftsman ratchets; several Craftsman sockets and extensions; an old pair of pliers for the spring-style hose clamps; Channellock pliers and wire cutters; a utility knife; rubber fuel hose; small hose clamps; a flat-blade screwdriver; power steering fluid; and PB Blaster penetrating oil.
So now you can add another project to your car repair vocabulary: repairing a power steering fluid leak on a 2002 Hyundai Accent.