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Well my seal went again recently, I got about 90k and 7 years out of it. Luckily replacing it the second time was fairly straight forward aside from a few old and very brittle vacuum hoses. At 255k lets see if I can get another 90k! Having done this twice now, I've realized it isn't very difficult. I'd say 3 or 4 hours max.
 

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I am in the middle of doing this replacement and I wanted to clarify something about tying down the steering wheel?

Is there a reason it has to be centered and tied down rather than just turning the steering wheel until the wheel lock engages?
 

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The FSM recommends that you tie down the steering wheel at center and make your match marks accordingly on the intermediate shaft, before disconnecting it, because then you have a known re-install point.
 

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In order to remove the steering input shaft from the rack, the collar needs to be removed, a nut holds clamps it down. I gain access to the you may have to rotate the wheel, then during removal and installation of the seal you may need to move the shaft, all this misaligns the steering wheel so make sure to mark it.
 

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yeah i am all the way into it and just removed the snap ring which was a big pain because my snap ring pliers were an inch too long and i couldnt get the ends into both ring holes since the master cylinder was in the way.

do the holes on the snap ring have to exactly back in the same spot or can i slightly rotate the ring from where it originally was?
 

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yeah i am all the way into it and just removed the snap ring which was a big pain because my snap ring pliers were an inch too long and i couldnt get the ends into both ring holes since the master cylinder was in the way.

do the holes on the snap ring have to exactly back in the same spot or can i slightly rotate the ring from where it originally was?
You can rotate the snap ring to access the rings more easily -- just make sure that the sharper side of the snap ring is pointing up (away from the seal), if your snap ring has a sharper side.
 

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Could one of you look at these pics of the new seal & snapring that I installed and let me know if it look proper before I close it up? Pics are pretty high-res so if you click through to imgur you'll see more detail.


I can't really tell if the snap ring is into the grove all the way around.

I was able to use a deep socket and a hammer to get the seal in pretty far and now the black snap ring is in.

Both are new and should be OEM since I ordered them from an online Toyota dealership.

EDIT: i was able to use a hook tool from my seal puller kit to pull on one of the eyes to rotate the snap ring around a bit and it moved fairly smoothly so I think it's in the groove.
 

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I finished putting everything back together. Some reflections on all this
  • I did this without any extra person helping but it took me maybe 8 hours over the course of two days. If I had to do it again, it would take less time now that I understand everything better.
  • I wish I had had a close-quarters hammer for knocking in the seal.
  • I wish I had had a shorter snap-ring pliers for pulling out and putting in the snap ring.
  • I wish my close-quarters screwdriver had been magnetized.
  • Take lots of pictures of everything as you are working in case you start doubting yourself or can't remember something.
  • Maybe a close-quarters drill could have helped me drill the screw into the seal but not sure.
  • I was really, really glad to have a couple of those long harbor freight LED flashlight things with the light part that is shaped like a paddle and a magnet on the other end to stick to the body of the car. (Braun 63958) You need the ability to put a lot of light into really awkward spaces to do this job well.
  • I needed to use a 24" breaker bar to loosen the 12mm bolt on the intermediate shaft (engine bay side.) It was very hard to get that breaker bar to fit. The bolt on the other side in the cabin came loose without much effort.
  • I used a 24" pry bar to raise the intermediate shaft off the steering rack shaft. Again, hard to get leverage in such a tight space. But just pulling up on the shaft with your hands isn't going to work. The pry bar made it seem easy, but finding the leverage points was hard and I worried a lot I might break something while doing it.
  • I did not need to completely disconnect and remove the intermediate shaft entirely from the car. I simply pried it off the rack then pushed it up towards the cabin then allowed it to hang inside the engine bay a bit. It sometimes got in the way, but it wasn't too bad. To be clear, I did not detach the intermediate shaft inside the cabin. Just in the engine bay.
  • After removing the air intake, fuse box (you don't remove this, just set it aside btw), and charcoal canister the first thing I did was take a utility knife and cutting pliers and slice away the dust cover and then rip it out. This helped me make better match marks.
  • Removing the seal was the most difficult part for me. Ultimately I had to do two things before I could raise the seal.
    • I used a close quarters screwdriver and a long screw BUT screwed it in at a 30 or 45 degree angle to the seal instead of straight down into the seal. It took a lot of effort to puncture the seal and get it screwed in.
    • Even after the screw was securely into the seal, simply pulling straight up & out with pliers wasn't working at all. Once I switched to pulling the screw down towards the bearings (or the floor) did I create enough leverage to get the seal to move up. So the effect of pulling down on the screw essentially pried the seal out.
  • Putting in the new seal wasn't easy either. My hammers were too long to get good power. I used a deep impact socket over the seal but getting the back part of the seal (near the firewall) to go down was hard because the firewall was so close to where I needed to land the hammer.
  • Getting the snap ring in wasn't too bad but it's hard to tell if it got into the groove. I dragged it around in a semi-circle with the end of an an Allen wrench to verify that it was seated properly.
  • I cut a slit in my new dust cover so I can easily remove it in the future to check if there is a leak.
  • Getting the charcoal canister off and then back on was kind of a pain. It's not screwed in but I needed a screw-driver to pop it free. In my car, the canister doesn't sit level. It fastens in at a slight angle (15 degrees?) that slopes down towards the firewall.
  • Definitely at least turkey-baster out as much fluid as possible from the reservoir because when that seal comes out (or gets punctured while attacking the old seal) everything left in that reservoir will all leak out.
  • I didn't put much effort into immobilizing the steering wheel. I made match marks but they rubbed off during my work. I was still able to the get shaft back on without screwing up the steering.
  • Definitely pay attention to all the little hoses on the charcoal canister. Mark them well. Note that one plastic tube (that points down I believe) on the charcoal canister doesn't have a tube that connects into it.
  • To be clear, the fuse box doesn't get "removed" it just gets detached and pulled forward out of the way. I did completely remove the charcoal canister, though.
  • I couldn't see anything wrong with the old seal to cause the leak but it was also kinda destroyed getting it out so I don't know.
  • I drove the car about 5 minutes afterwards and steering felt maybe lighter and smoother than before doing the work. Did not observe any loss of fluid in the reservoir.
  • After you get everything back together and refill the reservoir definitely first turn the wheels back and forth without starting the car. A lot of fluid got sucked into the system this way so clearly the system was dry.
I'm not sure this solved the problem yet. But I'm really hopeful that it did.

I have lived with this problem for like 8 years. First I poured lucas stop leak in and it quit leaking but the steering got super stiff. When I gave it to my noodle armed daughter she couldn't turn it well so I put Seafoam transtune in and then flushed the system which helped but the leak came back. Oof.


Will report back in a week with an update.
 

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Update: So far, PS fluid level is holding in the power steering reservoir after a week of city driving and lots of hard turns, etc. I used Toyota Type IV fluid in the PS reservoir after I flushed it.

One problem I have run into after this is that I'm getting a check engine light now for problems related to the charcoal canister. I probably either put it back incorrectly OR nicked one of the hoses or something. Will start a different thread about that.
 

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3 months later and the fix still holding.

i am still losing a very small amount of PS fluid (not from the seal b/c that is bone dry). the rate i am losing fluid now would take like 18 months to run out as opposed to every 4 weeks before I did the repair.
 

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Well my seal went again recently, I got about 90k and 7 years out of it.
In May 2012, during a scheduled service (80000 kms), it was discovered by the dealership that the seal was leaking. A family member had turned the car in for servicing on that occasion, so I don't have many details. Rummaging through the invoices, I see that the "90311-19007" seal was replaced with a new part, but not the dust cover or the snap ring.
Exactly 7 years later (115000 kms), I noticed by chance that the dust cover appeared slightly wet and oily. I don't seem to be losing power steering fluid yet, so I will keep an eye on the reservoir level and replace the seal (which I've already bought) when necessary.
Do you think that reusing the old snap ring (and dust cover) had anything to do with the somewhat premature failure of the seal? Seven years is somewhat logical, but 35000 kms (22000 miles) certainly isn't.
 

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The obvious question is whether the wet area is actually from that seal? Is it possible something else is leaking or spilled? I don’t think the snap ring goes bad. Once in the grove the snap ring just stops the seal from backing out. If the ring is in the grove and can’t back out then it will always lock the seal in place. I’m in Southern California so I don’t see the wild temperature swingsome do. I think the integrity of the seal depends mostly on the condition of fluid. Do you know if the car has the correct ATF fluid in the power steering system?

In your situation I’d replace the seal only as long as the dust boot looks good...actually I’d proabably wait until the seal fails :/ but I also have a second car.
 

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The obvious question is whether the wet area is actually from that seal? Is it possible something else is leaking or spilled? I don’t think the snap ring goes bad. Once in the grove the snap ring just stops the seal from backing out. If the ring is in the grove and can’t back out then it will always lock the seal in place. I think the integrity of the seal depends mostly on the condition of fluid. Do you know if the car has the correct ATF fluid in the power steering system?
The wetness is very "localized" on top of the dust cover. Nothing drips below (yet). Everything else in the area is bone dry.
My (far-fetched) theory behind the reused dust cover is that it's swollen and can't seal properly. Mud, dust and grit could make their way underneath, create a grinding paste and foul the surface where the seal meets the turning steering shaft.
Every fluid change has been made at the dealership so far and the invoice shows that when the seal was changed, the power steering system was refilled with Toyota Dexron III fluid. It has not been touched since then.
 

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in my experience from having completed this task on my 1999 RAV4, the dust cover is just a piece of plastic that sits on top of the actual seal and held there by (1) gravity and (2) the fact it can't escape since the shaft runs right through it.

it sort of flops and spins around pretty easily so i don't think of it as "sealing" anything. so i'm skeptical that this cover decaying or whatever over time is really the source of the problem. but i could, of course, be wrong.

my opinion is that if you aren't getting enough fluid coming out of that seal so that it shows up on the garage floor after every drive and the reservoir drops by 50% in like 3 weeks then you don't have a serious leak coming from the seal yet.
 

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The wetness is very "localized" on top of the dust cover. Nothing drips below (yet). Everything else in the area is bone dry.
Actually it looks a bit more sinister than that:

(pinion seal leak.JPG)

Still no drips or noticeably missing fluid from the reservoir though. I'll probably tackle the job in the coming months.
 
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