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I have a 97 Honda Accord with 122K miles on it. Recently, if I drive over bumpy roads, I'll sometimes feel vibrations seemingly from the underside of the car, almost as if something might be loose. Sometimes I can feel the gas pedal vibrating.

I took the car in to the Honda dealer and they looked at it. They said that the vibrations were likely caused by a power steering rack leak and a worn tie rod. On the invoice, it specifically says "Left front inner tie rod has excessive play and power steering rack is leaking at that point. Replace power steering rack and exhaust system to start."

They said that in order to replace the power steering rack and possibly tie rod, they would have to remove the exhaust first. But the exhaust has rusted and they said it would totally fall apart if they removed it and wouldn't be able to put it back on. So I'd have to replace the exhaust too and all of that might cost $3400.

But they said they didn't think it was necessary to fix, and that I could continue driving the car without any problems (besides the vibrations). I asked when the power steering rack would run out of whatever it's leaking, and they said it looked like it had been leaking for a while, and that it could be years before it becomes a serious problem.

So is this something that can be safely ignored?

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I would never ignore a worn tie rod; you could be driving down the road, hit a serious bump, and suddenly lose your ability to steer in a straight line, or worse. If you have the the tie rod replaced, I doubt that any reputable mechanic would tackle that without also repairing the power steering rack. I personally would never ignore any kind of steering issues. The risk/benefit calculations just don't make sense.

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    I had an independent mechanic fix it. He said only the inner tie rod and steering boot needed to be replaced, along with performing an alignment. He said the power steering rack was leaking a little bit but that I didn't have to worry about it. – pacoverflow Sep 15 '15 at 23:36
  • @pacoverflow there are products which you can add to power steering fluid which act to stop leaks. It may be worth speaking to your local autoparts store and obtaining one of these. – Steve Matthews Jan 10 '17 at 13:03
  • I don't believe anyone repairs power steering racks, because of the safety risks in an improper repair. They are usually replaced, not repaired. About the stop leak fluids: may or may not be a good idea; usually, there is no such thing as a mechanic in a can (or bottle). If the leak is minor, I would just continue driving. Unlikely that it fails in such a way that it violently turns to the direction of the oncoming traffic. – juhist Feb 11 '17 at 13:28
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If your Power Steering Rack is leaking at it's seals, keep an eye on your Power Steering Fluid levels please so that you do not run dry of Fluid at an inopportune time such as in an emergency maneuver situation. It would be terrible if you should happen to cause an Accident because you could not turn your steering wheel or got surprised at the sudden "Stiffness" of the Steering.

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    Have you ever driven a car with power steering fluid so low that there is no power assist? I have, and it is not dangerous. The stiffness of the steering occurs at low speed. Emergency maneuvers are usually needed at high speeds, and then the steering is light, not stiff, with or without power assist. Besides, the stiffness doesn't occur in a surprising and sudden way: it just becomes more and more stiff, so you get used to the stiffness that is not sudden. Oh, and there are cars that have no power steering. Are they unsafe? No! – juhist Feb 11 '17 at 13:30
  • I have driven a couple of Vehicles without the Power Steering being operable. In one case the pump failed due to a broken belt. Now, that one was a real joy to drive. It was like steering an old farm tractor! In the other case the high pressure hose blew. As you speak of, that was not quite so bad as all of the Fluid pumped out and I removed the Pump drive belt so as not to burn up the Pump. It was a bit of a bugger at slow speed because there was a fair amount of Steering resistance and of course the steering wheel itself is a fair bit smaller than on a Car designed with standard steering. – Elwood Jones Mar 21 '17 at 5:22

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