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Car is losing power steering fluid very slowly. Months go by before it needs to be topped of again. No apparent leak, no noise, no foam in fluid.

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There's a leak there somewhere - there are only two places where power steering fluid can go: where it's supposed to go, and where it's not. "Not" means outside of everything, onto the ground & into the air. There aren't any places where it can leak into any other fluid reservoir in the vehicle.

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On a very small fluid loss the first thing is too tighten any hose clips or unions. These can allow the fluid to 'sweat' out of the system. Any clips that show any sign of oil around them require critical attention as the hose at the joining may be starting to perish internally.

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  • Thanks. My main concern is the possibility that the steering rack has a leak which I believe usually means replacing the entire rack. Would no air bubbles getting into the fluid rule out a leak in the rack? – dlb Aug 22 '14 at 14:17
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Check inside the boots on your steering rack. With your vehicle properly supported on jack stands, remove the wheels and take a pair of pliers and squeeze the clamps on the outer collar of the inner tie rod boots on the rack and slide a small pocket screwdriver or something similar CAREFULLY between the tie rod and the boot collar to see if there is any fluid residue inside the boot. There should be none at all. If there is any amount of fluid the outer seals are leaking and should be replaced. It should be dry or very close to it inside the boots. The seals can be replaced without changing the rack (I have done it myself) but you will be hard pressed to find a mechanic that will do that because it's faster to just change the rack.

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    Actually, the reason why mechanics won't repair the rack is due to the safety risks. If somebody does an improper repair and the car suddenly violently turns to the direction of the oncoming traffic, a serious accident could happen and whoever did the improper repair could be liable to pay millions. Thus, the usual solution is to replace the rack with a junkyard part (assuming the car is old and no new parts are being made), which will usually fail within a year or so because such junkyard parts have old rubber seals too. – juhist Feb 11 '17 at 13:35

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