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Lost power steering fluid. HELP. 2001 Diplomat


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Moderator EDIT. Created a new topic for this issue.  Was tagged onto “Tire Replacement” and not appropriate.

OP is @tomevansfl

I had two new steer tires installed today. When I left the tire installer I noticed the steering was kind of heavy. The steering had been normal and realitively light for such a large vehicle until I was ready to leave. I figured it was the new tires with fresh tread that had more resistance to turning, but as I got closer to my storage lot 15 miles away I realized the power steering was getting less and less effective. By the time I reached the storage lot there was no power steering at all. When I pulled up to the gate I was unable to line up with the gate so I had to back up a little, realign and pull through the gate. When I left in my car I noticed there was a line of fluid on the pavement at the gate in a “U” pattern where I had backed up and turned the wheel to get lined up. 
 

What could have happened while removing the wheels and reinstalling them that would cause a leak in the power steering system?  Where do I start looking to find the leak. Heck, I don’t really even know where to add power steering fluid to the system. I have a rear radiator so it will be difficult to access anything in the engine bay. I have an 80-100 mile trip each way planned at the end of the month for the 4th of July. Suggestions? 
 

As always, all help will be appreciated. 

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First you need to find where it is leaking from. Steering box, a line or pump in the rear etc. If they only removed and reinstalled wheels, there's nothing that could be damaged to leak unless a line got pinched with some weird lifting equipment.

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It shouldn't be hard to find the biggest oil spot where you stop.  I'd look around the steering gear first, the return hose off the steering gear might be lighter duty than the pressure hoses, or they could have somehow damaged the steel lines in the vicinity of the tire.

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  • Tom Cherry changed the title to Lost power steering fluid. HELP. 2001 Diplomat

Sure sounds like the tire installer had damaged a hydraulic line causing the leak. They should have noticed a large puddle in their service bay also, plus on the ground while leaving the service bay.

They will obviously deny any responsibility.

Now it is up to you to crawl under the coach to put eyes on exactly what got damaged and what needs to be done to correct it. If needed, you can have the coach towed to a shop and repaired there.

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Just now, Dr4Film said:

Sure sounds like the tire installer had damaged a hydraulic line causing the leak. They should have noticed a large puddle in their service bay also, plus on the ground while leaving the service bay.

They will obviously deny any responsibility.

Now it is up to you to crawl under the coach to put eyes on exactly what got damaged and what needs to be done to correct it. If needed, you can have the coach towed to a shop and repaired there.

Followup to Richard’s post.  IMMEDIATELY notify the tire shop….as in TODAY. Take pictures.  Tell them you expect THEM to send out a repair service, qualified, of course and FIX IT.  If they are reputable, they will respond.  IF they blow you off…..

I.HOPE you used a Credit Card or wrote a check or DEBIT card.  IMMEDIATELY Cancel payment or notify the card holding company and dispute the charge and put  a HOLD ON IT.  YOU NEED THIS LEVERAGE.  Then get back to them….Hey…BTW…you ain’t getting paid….

Tell them they have 5 business days to get it fixed…otherwise, you will totally disallow the charge/check and you WILL notIfy the Better Business Bureau and file a formal complaint. In addition, you will affect repairs and they will be liable.  Followup with a letter, Registered, Return Receipt Requested to the tire dealer…just include a brief history….keep it to two paragraphs.  

Then….figure out how to get it fixed. Keep notes of WHOM and when (including time) at the tire shop you talked to.  Eventually, you should be reimbursed….or your tires, less the repair cost, will be FREE….  I would “look” for an obvious leak…but if you are not so mechanically inclined, get it fixed. 

Make sure the repair invoice reads….REPAIR DAMAGE TO HYDRAULIC POWER STEERING  SYSTEM CAUSED DURING NEW TIRE INSTALLATION…

Good Luck….

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I just fixed a power steering leak on the high pressure line from the connector to hose at the pump on our  04 Safari Cheetah, created by ( I believe) a self inflicted engine assy shift rolling over a large curb on the driver side rear wheels at a pretty good clip. The hose connector was very near the frame and never had a leak until this poor driving judgement occured. My leak was not fast, just noticed a large spot overnight. Very glad we could just replace the high pressure hose connector and create more clearance from the frame at the 90 degree elbow as opposed to replacing a 40 foot long hose assembly. 

Not suggesting the tire change created your issue but the possibility is there that they lifted one side at a time. Good luck, wishing you an easy fix!

Edited by Joel & Susanna
front tires, not all tires
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Sometimes "stuff" just happens!  My power steering gearbox started leaking as I pulled out of a 4 week storage.  Look under the coach where it is currently parked, if there is no signs of a leak (there most likely will be).  Try to determine where it's leaking from (my guess is most likely nothing to do with the tire change).  If there is no sign of a leak, get some help putting fluid into the system (ATF) (My reservoir is in the back under the oil and transmission dipsticks, a black cylinder with a dipstick in the top that also is the fill port).  Crank it up and look for leaks while engine is running.  It should be pretty easy to find from your description.  If it is something that might have happened while the tire change work, rock their world, otherwise, fix and repair/replace as necessary.

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I just replaced the input shaft seal on mine and can’t imagine how a tire shop could possibly damage a line by jacking it up. Both my lines run on top of the frame from the steering box so it would be next to impossible to jack on them. I guess anything is possible and it does seem strange for the timing of the leak.

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Thanks everyone. I know I have some investigations to do.
 

I live in an urban neighborhood so I have to store my RV at a public storage facìlity. There is a paved driveway through the storage parking area with gravel in the actual parking area so with all of the rain we’ve had this week I’m not sure how much of fluid leak will be visible but I have to look this afternoon. 

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Even if there is no visible puddle with the amount you had to lose there will be signs if you look under where ps box is you will see the fluid on the box, bracket for it or the frame rails. 

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On 6/14/2024 at 12:33 PM, Craggar said:

Even if there is no visible puddle with the amount you had to lose there will be signs if you look under where ps box is you will see the fluid on the box, bracket for it or the frame rails. 

Trying not to get too involved here…but consider the facts.  You have a rear radiator and I have a side mounted with with hydraulic cooling. So my system is a bit more complex or has more “plumbing”.  The hydraulic reservoir is a Nelson, that is identical to the one shown in your manual…but maybe a little smaller….same filter. Mine has a band clamp, so a little “fatter”….

OK…the initial “fill” on my hydraulic system is 35 quarts.  I know for a fact that it takes about 2 gallons or 8 quarts to refill my reservoir and the pressure hydraulic filter…which you also have….so except for the fan motors and the controller….our systems are identical.

35 quarts is 8.75 gallons.  Knock off, radically too high, a gallon for my fans.  So, your system probably would hold 31 quarts or 7.75.  My logic…. If the steering started to fail or was noticeable when you left….SOMETHING happened.  You probably were in violation of “oil dumping” regs as you drove.  There was little or failing pressure in your system. NOW, a closer look on pages 292 & 293 of your manual.  Your reservoir MIGHT be a little smaller…so, we’re down to 6.75 gallons.

All you need, and the manual has directions and pictures, is a 15/16” wrench or a large 1” adjustable wrench.  Take off the cap of the reservoir. Use your phone or a flashlight.  If it is empty….you have lost at least a gallon, if not more. No wonder it failed.  If that reservoir is empty….no need to try to backtrack or dig up gravel…you saw it...  You don’t have to crawl under…you have a massive leak…pure and simple….

Now where….yes….that is important.  You need to refill and start the engine and see where it is coming from.  The manual says TF for Transmission Fluid.  That is Dextron III.  Buy 2 gallons.  Refill it…start the engine.  Rotate the steering wheel lock to lock…shut off the engine…get out…use a flashlight…you’ll see it,

NOW a caveat…..  Also buy 2 gallons of AW46 Hydraulic Fluid.  ;NAPA or a Tractor Supply (or equivalent) will have it.  Take some paper towels to clean up and such.  Put you finger, when you pull off the cover, into some place where the liquid still is lying or out a twisted piece of paper towel into it.  IF it is NOT Red or dark Red, but is yellowish or tanish or “straw colored”, it is AW46.  Simple…then refill with the same type…return the unopened containers…

That’s my advice….based on what you posted….and the situation…

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I agree, it would have been best to notify them as soon as you felt the steering off, next best when you first saw the leak, last best is still immediately.  If they damaged it, and the odds are good given the timing, then it left fluid where they changed the tires, and they should have noticed that, or if you called that day, they would have found it and helped you out if you're not as able to crawl under and find the leak.  Gravel definitely makes it harder, but adding fluid and running the engine for ten seconds then shutting off should make the leak visible.  It's not too late to call them and ask if they'll assist, they might be able to send a guy over that can find the leak easy enough, then it's either something they did, or it's in the rear that they didn't touch.  You can always pay them for the help if it's not their fault.  I bet a gallon is enough to spit some oil out the leak, and two gallons might not be enough to drive it. 

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13 minutes ago, Tom Cherry said:

Trying not to get too involved here…but consider the facts.  You have a rear radiator and I have a side mounted with with hydraulic cooling. So my system is a bit more complex or has more “plumbing”.  The hydraulic reservoir is a Nelson, that is identical to the one shown in your manual.  
 

OK…the initial “fill” on my hydraulic system is 35 quarts.  I know for a fact that it takes about 2 gallons or 8 quarts to refill my reservoir and the pressure hydraulic filter…which you also have….so except for the fan motors and the controller….our systems are identical.

35 quarts is 8.75 gallons.  Knock off, radically too high, a gallon for my fans.  So, your system probably would hold 31 quarts or 7.75.  My logic…. If the steering started to fail or was noticeable when you left….SOMETHING happened.  You probably were in violation of “oil dumping” regs as you drove.  There was little or failing pressure in your system. NOW, a closer look on pages 292 & 293 of your manual.  Your reservoir MIGHT be a little smaller…so, we’re down to 6.75 gallons.

All you need, and the manual has directions and pictures, is a 15/16” wrench or a large 1” adjustable wrench.  Take off the cap of the reservoir. Use your phone or a flashlight.  If it is empty….you have lost at least a gallon, if not more. No wonder it failed.  If that reservoir is empty….no need to try to backtrack or dig up gravel…you saw it...  You don’t have to crawl under…you have a massive leak…pure and simple….

Now where….yes….that is important.  You need to refill and start the engine and see where it is coming from.  The manual says TF for Transmission Fluid.  That is Dextron III.  Buy 2 gallons.  Refill it…start the engine.  Rotate the steering wheel lock to lock…shut off the engine…get out…use a flashlight…you’ll see it,

NOW a caveat…..  Also buy 2 gallons of AW46 Hydraulic Fluid.  ;NAPA or a Tractor Supply (or equivalent) will have it.  Take some paper towels to clean up and such.  Put you finger, when you pull off the cover, into some place where the liquid still is lying or out a twisted piece of paper towel into it.  IF it is NOT Red or dark Red, but is yellowish or tanish or “straw colored”, it is AW46.  Simple…then refill with the same type…return the unopened containers…

That’s my advice….based on what you posted….and the situation…

Well on mine a quick look under the m/h by the steering box told me exactly where it was leaking and mine was no where near as bad as his. All I was getting at I quick look could tell him right away if it could have been damaged from jacking up the rv which is what he intially asked about or if it is one of the most common leaks which is the seal or hose at the steering box. If it's dry there that would eliminate something the shop did while changing the tires for sure.

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sometimes it’s just a coincidence, years ago when I ran a shop people would bring in a vehicle for an oil change and their alternator or something else went bad while there, just happened  to be at the shop when it happened, you never know.   Not saying they couldn’t have done something wrong, but if it’s a shop you know/trust or have used, give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them to look at it.  Then take the appropriate action if need be.  Nevertheless it needs to be repaired, life is too short and your trip is more important.  JMO,  good luck to you sir!

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I checked and as everyone thought there was no puddles on the gravel around the tire area. Honestly, by that point I don’t think there was any fluid left to leak. 
 

When I called the tire shop the owner said they didn’t do any repairs other than tires but to let him know what I found out. He seemed open to paying for the repairs if it was their fault.
 

It’s too far to take it back to them to check it out with no power steering and I don’t think refilling the power steering system would last that far. I’m on a quest now to find a repair shop on the west side of Orlando that will work on a motor home. I called one dealership and they said they didn’t work on Monaco’s if I didn’t buy it from them…even though they are a Holiday Rambler dealer. Go figure. 
 

There is only one other dealer in my area that does repairs. I’ll call them tomorrow to see if they can/will fix it. 
 

I may have to see if the Prevost repair center near me will work on it. They work on other buses and of course Prevost including Prevost conversions but I don’t know if they do motor homes. They work on semi’s but these days nobody wants to go out of their ordinary to serve their non-customers. 

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You have to be careful, if the pump is not pumping hyd fluid it can get hot and fail.  That's the last thing you want.

Have you checked the reservoir?  At minimum I'd get a gallon of oil and pour it the reservoir and then see if you can identify where it is leaking.  Could be as simple as a loose fitting. 

 

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13 hours ago, Dr4Film said:

Have you called Barry at Josam's to see if they would do the repairs? That would be my first call. They changed out the Sheppard Steering box to a TRW for me on my previous Windsor.

I considered Josam because of their reputation but the problem is Josam is nearly 15 miles from where I store my RV and I’m concerned that it won’t make the trip without running out of fluid and damage the power steering system like jacwjames said. I could have it towed but that would cost $600-$700 to take it that far. 
 

I’m looking for someone nearby so I can load the reservoir and make the trip before it runs out. 

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Have you considered adding fluid, starting the engine and looking for leaks? At least then we/you would know what kind of leak you are dealing with. 

When my power steering gearbox (mounted directly under where the steering wheel is) sprung a leak, I found that it was not the hoses or a fitting and I bought fittings at ACE hardware and connected the two hoses together, filled the reservoir and drove home from Denver to Memphis.  It is drivable without damaging the pump or throwing a fan/alternator/power steering belt.  It was not easy, especially in tight quarters, but it was my only choice since parts were not available for weeks.

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14 hours ago, tomevansfl said:

I checked and as everyone thought there was no puddles on the gravel around the tire area. Honestly, by that point I don’t think there was any fluid left to leak. 
 

When I called the tire shop the owner said they didn’t do any repairs other than tires but to let him know what I found out. He seemed open to paying for the repairs if it was their fault.
 

It’s too far to take it back to them to check it out with no power steering and I don’t think refilling the power steering system would last that far. I’m on a quest now to find a repair shop on the west side of Orlando that will work on a motor home. I called one dealership and they said they didn’t work on Monaco’s if I didn’t buy it from them…even though they are a Holiday Rambler dealer. Go figure. 
 

There is only one other dealer in my area that does repairs. I’ll call them tomorrow to see if they can/will fix it. 
 

I may have to see if the Prevost repair center near me will work on it. They work on other buses and of course Prevost including Prevost conversions but I don’t know if they do motor homes. They work on semi’s but these days nobody wants to go out of their ordinary to serve their non-customers. 

Did you pull the top off the reservoir and actually see “is it empty”…if not, then you might as well pop for the TOW or Haul on a lowboy.  It is VERY difficult for member to offer advice when certain things are not known.  

If the reservoir has fluid…..then the leak is not catastrophic.  If it is dry….refill it…start it and observe the leak. You will be able to judge the leak when running….

No one can tell you exactly what to do without knowing the above….and that was outlined, in detail, many posts ago.  If that is not in your skill set, then a mobile or a tow/haul is the best course….

 

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1 hour ago, tomevansfl said:

I considered Josam because of their reputation but the problem is Josam is nearly 15 miles from where I store my RV and I’m concerned that it won’t make the trip without running out of fluid and damage the power steering system like jacwjames said. I could have it towed but that would cost $600-$700 to take it that far.

Unfortunately, hindsight is usually much costlier than foresight.

There has been multiple posts on this forum about Emergency Roadside Service and the cost benefit for having one. I paid between $400 and $500 for three years of ERS from Coach-Net. They would have towed your RV to most likely Josam's since they are only 15 miles away or some other shop where the repairs could be done. Tow - No Charge!

I have had Coach-Net since 2010 and won't leave home without it.

Sometimes the lessons we learn from our mistakes are expensive. I have done my share of them.

Edited by Dr4Film
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Posted (edited)

I do have coach net. Was just trying to avoid using them. They take so long. But I guess I’ll have no choice. I’ve used them for tow before. Saw the bill—it was over $600. I’m afraid if I use them too often they will cancel me. 

1 hour ago, Tom Cherry said:

Did you pull the top off the reservoir and actually see “is it empty”…if not, then you might as well pop for the TOW or Haul on a lowboy.  It is VERY difficult for member to offer advice when certain things are not known.  

If the reservoir has fluid…..then the leak is not catastrophic.  If it is dry….refill it…start it and observe the leak. You will be able to judge the leak when running….

No one can tell you exactly what to do without knowing the above….and that was outlined, in detail, many posts ago.  If that is not in your skill set, then a mobile or a tow/haul is the best course….

 

I have to store my RV at a Public Storage facility. I just learned where to look for the reservoir and will go after lunch.

 I called Josam and spoke to  Barry. He told me approximately where to look and they could fix it.

 

Edited by tomevansfl
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JMHO

It would be worth it for you to try and determine where/what is leaking. 

Could be an easy fix and/or a holy crap moment but from there at least you can make "smart" decisions on what to do and/or where to take it.

When I travel I have a pretty big tool chest and could fix just about anything.  When my wife takes the coach I unload my tools but I created an emergency tool kit that could fix a lot of stuff and gave her a high $$$ to handle the other stuff.

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When my 2000 Diplomat had a similar problem, it was the high pressure hose on the steering rack, the braiding had rusted, weakened and then finally let go, loss of steering was literally immediate. I would suspect that as your problem didn’t occur instantly, it’s likely to be the return line that has failed. I had a commercial hose company (Pirtek) in the UK come to me and make a replacement. Within 6 months of that hose bursting, the return line did the same thing, so if that is your issue, change both hoses.

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