When I had put the front suspension together I left the rubber boots on the steering rack tie rods loosely attached to the rack so after driving the car I could check for leakage. Well – after driving the car a bit… I discovered pretty robust leakage out of the passenger side seals on the rack (passenger side on a US car). It was more than a drop or two…
You should always have tight and well sealed boots on the steering rack. The rod extends in and out of the critical end seals (which are soft rubber) and any grit that gets on the rods from the road can get dragged into the seals when you turn the wheel and ruin the seal. If you have tight rubber boots and find you are having to top up the power steering fluid all the time, but do not see any external leaks, give the rubber boots a squeeze and you will probably find fluid has collected in one or both. Time for a rebuild.
By the way – in the E-type the same fluid was used in the automatic transmission as in the power steering rack. It is my belief that using the same type of fluid today is reasonable for these systems.
Now, I could kick myself for not thinking to simply rebuild the power steering when I was working on the front suspension and brakes way back when. That would have been the ideal time to remove the rack and rebuild. It was not leaking when I got the car – but in hindsight I should never have trusted the old seals to remain flexible and do their job. Ok – so the car had to come back off the road.
Here is the thing about rebuilding an E-type power steering: 1. The whole rack has to come out of the car and to do this you have to remove the electric fans, drain the cooling system and pull out the radiator. Yup – the whole 9 yards! So, the car has to go back up in the air, the hood removed or the ‘open-wide trick’ I wrote about before must be used to get the radiator out. 2. Then comes the scary part – actual dis-assembly of what is almost like a puzzle-box construction for the rack. The various workshop manuals are pretty much useless for the power steering rack rebuild. If you do get it all figured out and back together and the rebuild does not work you are stuck with pulling the whole thing out of the car and starting again… Anyway, in the next few blogs I will go through the whole operation.