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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-25-2009, 09:31 PM
GazamTi GazamTi is offline
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Mein Auto: '97 & '96 318ti's
Question E36 Rack & Pinion Leak Verification?

Hello,

My first post besides the intro!

Its tough finding a good mechanic in L.A.

Here's the diagnostic - one mechanic told me two hoses are leaking from that have to do with the power steering after jacking up the car and rolling under to see, nothing really pointed out. Almost $150 to 200.

The second mechanic I went to for a second opinion lifted the car completely on a huge all wheel lift then showed me the boots saturated with PS fluid and lots of oil everywhere and said its coming from the rack and pinion.

The whole thing needs replacing. Cost - $450 with remanufactured R&P and labor includes 1 year parts, labor.

Attached are photos I took of the underside sort of blindly a few weeks ago when I had my camera with me.

Now, cant they just replace the rubber boots and seals and then use the same R&P? Then maybe charge me for a "remanufactured" and call it a day?

Anyone have experience with R&P leaks in e36's?

My 318ti has 212,000 miles so at this point yes, its all about squeezing whatever life it has. Runs great though, tranny a bit fussy, but lots of immediate power. Steering does feel a little loos-ish but steers fine, managed quick maneuvers in L.A. traffic.

Thanks for your advice Bimmerfesters!
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  #2  
Old 02-25-2009, 09:37 PM
E36 Phantom's Avatar
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Welcome to the Fest bro. If you're not in to DIY, you should check the regional section of this board and search for mechanics in SoCal. If searching doesn't get you anything just post up a thread asking for one.

The hoses for the PS system are notorious for leaking - a REALLY weak clamp was used for them so that fails over time. You can get good screw-clamps to replace it, try that before wasting money. Really, it's a $2 job if you don't mind doing it yourself. If that isn't the case, you're out an hour and $2. If it was, you just saved at least $100, maybe $300.
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  #3  
Old 02-25-2009, 09:43 PM
GazamTi GazamTi is offline
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Thanks E36 Phantom! So, from those pics, does it look like a simple clamp tightening? Where should I check exactly? Thanks, yeah, Im a newbs.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:14 PM
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To be honest, I'm not sure. The fluid's obviously just on the driver's side - which is also the same side as the reservoir, and consequently the hoses. You really need to get it on ramps and look at the hoses themselves. If you see a lot of fluid leakage from the hose fittings, it's worth a shot. The one thing that concerns me is that there's plenty of fluid on the front of the boots. It doesn't really look like it's dripping from the reservoir in that pic, and in theory the fluid should be towards the back of the boot if it's just from the hoses, so you could have a leaky seal under that boot. But, like I said, you really need to get under it and check the hose fittings. One thing you could try is pulling the boot back a bit and see if it's real wet inside there where the seal is.

Oh, edit, for where to look, check the hose fittings at the PS fluid reservoir (doubt that's the problem), then at the PS pump, and down at the R&P assy. If the hoses look leaky, then yeah, it's just swapping out for good clamps.
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  #5  
Old 02-25-2009, 11:20 PM
GazamTi GazamTi is offline
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Thanks Phantom for your time, knowledge and advice!

I'll see how I can lift the car up high to really analyze where its coming from. I would assume that if ONE boot seal is leaking then of course even if the other boot is fine and dry, you just have to replace the whole Rack and Pinion right?

I'll check in the coming days and see what I will find and do.

Thanks again!
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  #6  
Old 02-25-2009, 11:24 PM
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Effectively, yeah. If you want to get technical, sure you could pull the R&P apart and replace the seal - but good luck finding a seal for it. No mechanic will touch that because it's a lot of time for not much money.
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  #7  
Old 02-26-2009, 03:28 AM
im im is offline
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1-if power steering is leaking then the fluid level in the bottle would be going down....what is the level in the bottle(located by alternator?
2-is it possible that one or both clamps or hoses below this bottle are cracked or broken...what is level in bottle?
3-could also be a main shaft seal..center of motor on front..then it would be engine oil...i believe that one would be a pain to change and you would go to shop or just live with it....and with you miles it is probably the most likely.
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