What might it cost me to fix this power steering fluid leak?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1981 Chevrolet Malibu. In the last two months, I have been losing power steering fluid. I have had to add fluid every two or three weeks. I have been looking under the car for leaks or spots, but I don't see any. I know when it's getting low because the steering wheel gets stiff and hard to turn. I want to get it fixed, but I don't want the mechanic to stick me with parts I don't need. What should I expect in terms of parts and labor?

TOM: As we've said many times, Ed, the amount you should expect to pay for a repair is directly related to whether your mechanic has a boat payment due when you go in.

RAY: Actually, Ed, this repair will probably cost you less than $100 bucks. My guess is it's either the seals on the steering box, or the high pressure power steering hose. Of course, if there is a boat payment due, it could be both of these things, in which case it'll be closer to $200.

TOM: The reason you don't see any fluid leaking is because it only leaks when you use the power steering. If you have an assistant turn the wheel all the way to the left or right while you look under the hood, you may be able to see where it's coming from.

RAY: But I wouldn't mess around with it, Ed. I'd take it right in and have it fixed. Having your steering suddenly stiffen up is quite dangerous. And unless you take care of it soon, you may be writing to us for estimates on body work too.

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