PS RACK LEAK | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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PS RACK LEAK

Discussion in 'Escort Wagons' started by JamesGarfield, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Hi Desinond and everyone,

    My Escort wagon developed a power steering leak. Saw the reservoir level was quite low, so I poured in some more fluid, and was promptly rewarded with a leak from under the car. It was dribbling out fluid as fast as I could pour it in. Hmmm.

    So, I put the wagon up on the ramps and went under for a look. I found the air breather tube that runs between the two bellows, had come off at both ends. This appears to be the leak source, as I saw fluid dribbling out from the bellows port.

    Question: Is there supposed to be PS fluid inside the rack's bellows? If I just clean up the air tube and reattach it, will that fix the leak? Or is my 25-yr-old PS rack shot? I have a new reman rack ready to go in, just don't wanna do that deal if not necessary.

    Also, has anyone had a leak in the white plastic fluid reservoir? I often find that area wet with fluid. I see there's a little filter down inside that reservoir, wonder how it would be replaced.
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    The air breather tube is meant to allow the volume of air inside the bellows to equal out as the rack turns on corners. It would only be a secondary leak source. Just replacing the bellows and the small metal tube between them wont stop such a leak.
    There will be some leakage from the 'pressurized' part of the rack/pinion assembly, which of course will become worse; and result in fluid dribbling out. I had one where the bellows came off and I didnt reconnect it, letting water/crud get onto the rack, causing rust and the rubber seal to leak a lot more. So I had the 'fun' of replacing the entire rack/pinion assembly.
    Was nice to have a car that didt drip on pavement anyway.

    The area around the white plastic reservoir might get wet as the rubber hoses running to it dont have clamps that are still tight. Also, some fluid can leak from where the first high pressure hose (from the pump) connects to the 2nd high pressure hose - and is just dripping or mist down.
    There is a filter in that reservoir that you can fish out with tweezers. I dont think the sort of filter looking mesh that is further down inside the reservoi is meant to come out, though I havent tried either.


    Good Luck!
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  3. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Hey my old buddy Denisond,

    Great to talk with you again. I haven't been online here much lately, due to being super busy with health problems (more foot surgeries), and trying to fix our other cars. And, other than this steering rack issue, our Escort has otherwise been running fine. My son has been commuting in it to his night shift job at McDonalds.

    I kinda expected that like you said, there should be only air inside the bellows and the cross-vent pipe. The amount of free play in the steering wheel has been increasing over the last few months. The outer the rod ends were replaced a while ago, so I'm suspecting this free play is being caused by worn Inner Tie Rod joints.

    If the inner the rod joints are worn, would that cause a fluid leak from the pressurized area in the rack, into the bellows? You've seen this wagon, our 95 Escort with 186,000 hard miles on it. It came to us as a basket case, with a dropped valve seat and needing much overall restoration. So I'm not too shocked when something like this blows, you know how it is.

    Agreed, that little filter down inside the white plastic reservoir doesn't look like it was meant to be replaced. I'm guessing it was installed in the bottom half of the reservoir before they fused on the top half.

    I'm just gonna reattach the vent pipe and carry on with it for now, until I can plan some more time to properly replace the rack.
  4. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    We could start a thread about bone surgeries! Two weeks ago I got a left knee replacement, and am still in the painful hobbling stage with a walker. At least I have lost about 10 lbs from my appetite being exclipsed by the pain meds.

    The free play at the wheel rim was up to about 3/8" when I replaced the rack. Afterward no play at rhe wheel rim at all.
    If the inner tie rod ends s are worn you could have some play at the steering wheel rim - but it stilll needs a rack assembly relacement.
    Worn inner tie rod ends wont contribute to a leak from the rack-to rack housing.

    Along with planning a rack replacement, I would plan on replacing the p.s. pump and its hoses at the same time.

    I did all of the work outside on grass, with the car underbody where the contol arm attaches raised about 12". It took me 3 or 4 evenings.
  5. novanutcase

    novanutcase FEOA Member

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  6. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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  7. 1993tracer

    1993tracer FEOA Member

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    Just hit rock auto. If you're already into it, may as well replace all the bushings you can. I use the blue moogs whenever possible ( not supposed to squeak)and then use energy suspension for the rest. I still haven't found anyone with rear suspension bushings for the 3rd gens.
  8. novanutcase

    novanutcase FEOA Member

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    https://www.ebay.com/itm/T-ALEM-TA1...shing-Ford-Escort-ZX2-1991-1996-/272775492590

    If I remember correctly you have a 2nd gen so the links are for a 2nd gen setup. If your car is a 3rd gen then this is the correct bushing.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/T-ALEM-TA1...shing-Ford-Escort-ZX2-1997-2003-/282580012412

    Rock Auto has them too but they're a little more expensive and you have to pay for shipping.

    John
  9. 1993tracer

    1993tracer FEOA Member

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    I think Energy suspension may have the right rear bushings. They are different than the 2nd gens.
  10. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I can personally vouch for those polyurethane bushings! Even though the part interchange only lists them for a third gen, they DO fit a second gen. I only bought them because I had oil leaking on them at the time (from a leaking oil pressure switch) and the polyurethane bushings were also made in USA.
  11. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Obligatory comment about how you should always just convert your rack to manual when encountering power steering issues.
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  12. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Thanks again John. The bushings are ordered.
  13. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Nice. If I was gonna convert the steering, I think I'd look at electric power steering (EPS).

    There's 2 versions of EPS. One is electro-hydraulic, and the other is pure electric.

    In electro-hydraulic, an electric motor comes on and drives a hydraulic pump, which then drives a conventional hydraulic steering rack. This approach allows a car maker to 'bridge' into EPS, while still using their existing stock of PS racks.

    In the pure electric version, the electric motor is integrated directly into the PS rack.

    Both versions of EPS help give better fuel economy, because they don't load the engine during straight-ahead driving, only drawing power when actually making a turn.

    And as you can probably imagine, EPS merges nicely into the autonomous self-driving vehicle, in that the computer can actuate an EPS system easier than a hydro-mechanical one.
  14. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Since all the bushings on this car are 24 years old, I'm sure there's a lot of slop and sway that has been there since I put this wagon back on the road. So I'm overall looking for any bushings I can replace, especially if I'm under there doing other work (like a PS rack).

    I have also decided to replace the front shocks/struts during this job. I figure, the car is up on ramps, wheels off, etc, so this would be a good time. These shocks/struts are most likely also original from 24 years ago, considering my wife's family was not much into maintenance.

    I've acquired the appropriate KYB units for the front. Wonder what other bushing replacement opportunities this will provide.
  15. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    I seem to recall that the bushings are different right to left, or manual vs. power rack.
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  16. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    You can replace struts while a car is on ramps???
  17. JamesGarfield

    JamesGarfield FEOA Donator

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    Welll... Yeah that would be a pretty good trick, wouldnit :).

    I neglected to say, I drove the front end up on the ramps, then from there, jacked the front up higher with the floor jack, then stuck jackstands under the frame rails. Now the ramps can be pulled away, the wheels taken off, and struts from there.

    That makes more sense, yeah .
  18. 1993tracer

    1993tracer FEOA Member

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    Well I just figured John, being a Texan, could hold up to car with one hand and then put the struts in with another.
    I have not been able to find stock type suspension bushings for the control arms other than the ones that have there own brackets for the front control arms. Poly type seem to be available for everything They do transform the car into a road racer... high speeds on entrance ramps are amazing. I have the KYB's on my car and they work quite nicely....even with about 50,000 miles on them. They are firmer than stock, especially in cold weather, but I doubt that will be a problem considering you're in Texas.
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  19. jcwagon

    jcwagon New Member

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    I replaced my ps rack with a manual. 93 wagon. Ordered a manual rack from RockAuto and figured I might have to do some fab work. The only problem I had was the pinion body seal.

    I made an extension for the gasket with a plastic bottle, no big deal, it would keep the high water out. Other wise everything is a straight swap. And I busted every knuckle trying to get the power rack out, there is no room with the engine in.

    The steering effort is little higher at parking speeds.
  20. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Hi JC, I am interested to hear that you did the manual rack swap. My car has had a "de-powered" power rack ever since I've owned it, and is quite hard to steer at parking speeds.
    I have a manual rack I picked up from the junkyard a couple years ago but never put in.

    Did you notice any difference in the bushings when you installed your rack, and did it come with new ones?
    Did you need to get the wheels aligned after?

    Did you keep the complicated belt setup?
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