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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 06-20-2011, 10:49 AM   #1
DBrown
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Weird problem

So I did my oil filter housing gasket and cooling system about two weeks ago. No problems everything went well. But this morning a found a small pool of red ATF under the front of my car, so I'm pretty sure it's from the power steering system because the transmission is a sealed set up and it looksclean when I look underneath. My question is, where would be the source of this leak? What usually fails? Hoses? The pump? Or isit possiblethat the rack is leaking?
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:56 AM   #2
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The black PS reservoir is to the right of the oil filter housing - says ATF on the cap. It is actually bolted to the oil filter housing. There is a 1 inch hose that connects to the bottom of it. Perhaps you knocked it loose or it's cracked - clamp loose etc.

You will need to remove the air intake plastics and air filter housing to get a good look. Follow the hoses and check connections.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:28 PM   #3
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+1...

Also, either of the hoses could leak from beneath reservoir...new screw clamps and maybe a little trim of hose, though if aged, I'd replace them if you can afford it.

The hose connecting to the pump was leaking on mine, so I put a screw clamp on that.

Get off factory clamp, trim, and clamp.

Anything else 'could' leak...clean things up and look after a bit...and monitor fluid level (and condition while you're at it!) If it's not pink, it's fortuitous that you had a leak!

And, for my final number...the gasket on the PS cap leaks often...$2 from dealer...and if really old system, the OEM ZF reservoir is only around $20.

Clean things up, find leaks, search realoem for PNs and have fun!
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:15 PM   #4
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I just took off the intake and checked the hoses, everything seems to be clean up top and my fluid level hasn't changed at all. I've been driving most of the day and no more leaking. I have decreased the whole underside and i cant seem to find where the liquid is coming from, the only plausible thing that i can see is that the rubber boot on the driver side of the rack seems to be a little oily. The only problem with me and oil leaks is that i did rust proofing, you know with all the oil. I totally regret that decision because now everything is a pain in the ass to diagnose. especially oil leaks. I've decreased the car 4 times now and i still get oil residue. For anybody thinking of doing the oil spray, i would not recommend it, I didn't realize how bad it was until i started doing diys.

I've had this problem before and i think I'm just gonna go the mechanic this time, and throw the keys at him. And yell "you fix it, i'm done!". this car drives me insane sometimes.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:17 PM   #5
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I actually don't have a gasket on my ps reservoir, but it doesn't leak. Just something i noticed, because everyone is always saying that theirs leaks, guess i dodged the bullet.
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Old 06-20-2011, 03:03 PM   #6
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I actually don't have a gasket on my ps reservoir, but it doesn't leak. Just something i noticed, because everyone is always saying that theirs leaks, guess i dodged the bullet.
You have one...I'll bet you $2!

On leaking on the tie rod boot, seems to me one of the ps lines runs on top of it, but also, don't forget that the underskirt wraps around that boot, so any drips might blow off at speed and cover the boot.

What else? Maybe it is oil coming from the vanos oil line. This gets brittle at the crimp fittings and if when tightening it you bend it much, I've heard it will leak. I just replaced that line when I did ofhg, but if you didn't, I hope you replaced the crush washers on that line...so here the thing is to verify that the drip is really red. It still could be PS fluid, or could be oil mixed with PS fluid. Sorry...we can guess everything that leaks...and there are a number of places...many.

Wish I could find the leak for you! Good luck!
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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dmax I wish you could, your always the most knowledgeable about everything to do with these cars. If your willing to make the trip to markham ontario, then id have no problem with you helping me out
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:32 PM   #8
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dmax I wish you could, your always the most knowledgeable about everything to do with these cars. If your willing to make the trip to markham ontario, then id have no problem with you helping me out
Isn't that at the end of the ice road? Give me a few days, I'll have to nail lots of nails into my tires for traction, but I'll get there eventually.

Once you pick a few likely sources, try brake or carb cleaner instead of the degreaser, that might make diagnosis a bit crisper for you. If you have a trusted, really sharp mechanic then that might do it, but odds are, you can find the source(s) of whatever it is dripping. Monitor fluid levels in the a.m., when you'd see a change more reliably, and don't forget, a drip is rarely catastrophic...it's just a drip. PS hoses are incredibly strong, as is the vanos oil line; they won't just 'pop.' If you maintain proper fluid levels, you've really no need to rush to fix this.

And, btw, I know there are many here that know every bit as much as me and many that know way more...like that guy with 100K posts. You don't rack up a count like that without, you know, knowing stuff. He always picks just the perfect smilie...it's frightening!

I think you think what you do about me coz I use commas and semicolons, and always put periods inside of quotations!
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:07 PM   #9
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No, you just answer my questions all the time, no matter how basic. Thanks

Okay, I was worried a hose could fly off or something.

And Canada is quite warm now you know. Today was 28 degrees (celcius). But I do like the deals on parts I get out of the states.
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:36 PM   #10
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No, you just answer my questions all the time, no matter how basic. Thanks

Okay, I was worried a hose could fly off or something.

And Canada is quite warm now you know. Today was 28 degrees (celcius). But I do like the deals on parts I get out of the states.
Just monitor things easily through fluid loss. You could barely squeeze a PS hose; it's very strong. As it dries out and gets old I guess it shrinks and starts to leak. The factory clamps don't get tighter without special tool and even then they're a bit of a pain. Screw clamps. I saved a couple hoses just by trimming off the top 1/2" where the old clamp was and got a new clamp on fresh hose. Did that on both reservoir hoses and the hose on the PS pump. The high pressure fitting, as far as I know, once they're off, you need new hoses, but the crimps are also very strong...just subject to fissures from movement, again when they're old. At some point, I suppose they would snap, but I'd bet that wouldn't be for 20 years. I'm just beginning to see leaks from the crimps...microscopic seeping...and I'm among the oldest cars...3/99 with 217K miles.

Glad I answer your questions...and sorry it takes me so long to do that...I don't have enough time to stay entertained here and write short posts!
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:45 PM   #11
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Thanks dmax for all your help.
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