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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a 1997 Toyota Rav4 and it has been the best car I have ever had, in my entire life. Up until I found myself in a position that I had to start allowing my daughter's fiance to drive it, the car was previously in perfect shape. Never one single mechanical issue aside from a flat tire and dead battery, in all these years. Now, however, after 1.5 years of this guy driving it, and it's in horrible condition.

But that's another story. Here is the topic of my post.

This may sound entirely crazy and not possible, but not in all the years I've ahd it have I EVER had to deal with steering fluid. And previous to that, I was forever having to add steering fluid to my other vehicles. The steering has never been tight, nor has it groaned or been anything but normal.

Now the car is constantly needing it. When I tell my daughter I never had to use it before, she tells me that CAN'T be true. All I know is it's never been an issue. Maybe once or twice my brother in law added it without my knowing (he was my mechanic and a good one), but it never "behaved" like it needed it.

IS this normal and possible for having a car that long, to not need steering fluid?
 

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Unless the steering system develops a leak there should be no need to add power steering fluid. I've had a couple of vehicles for years with fluid power steering and never had any disappear. It might be a good idea to change it every few years or so, but I never did.
 

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Darlanne, what often kills a hydraulic power steering system is when the driver turns the wheel all the way over and holds it there. This puts a tremendous strain on the pump, hoses, and fittings. You will often hear the pump "groan" when in this situation. All the driver has to do is "back off" a little bit from the lock position and it will be fine. Repeatedly steering to full lock and holding it is probably what happened to your RAV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all very much for your replies. I'm so frustrated with the condition of my previously amazingly running car. The driver also let it idle, sometimes 20 to 30 minutes at a time when he would be waiting for my daughter outside in the car. No matter how much he was told "don't do that", he assumed it was fine to do (and does not show much respect for the property of others, I have found out the hard way). As a result, I now have the check engine light on all the time, and it sounds like a rattle trap. It is believed to be the fuel injector. I love my Rav. I worked hard to pay for it, and babied that car. Anyway thank you again for the advice.
 

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It is actually against the law to idle more than 5 minutes in many states ;). So you can threaten him with the saw (if you live in one of those states). But... that really isn't going to cause any problems.


Stop by AutoZone or Advance Autopart and they will check the codes which are making CE light come on. They do this for free, in hopes that you will then purchase the parts from them.

Power steering fluid is meant to last a "lifetime" of the car, unless it develops a leak and has to be topped off. You can putting in some "stop a leak" fluid, but they rarely work. You have to hunt down the leaky component (usually PS pump or crimp on the high pressure hose) and replace it.
 

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Thank you all very much for your replies. I'm so frustrated with the condition of my previously amazingly running car. The driver also let it idle, sometimes 20 to 30 minutes at a time when he would be waiting for my daughter outside in the car. No matter how much he was told "don't do that", he assumed it was fine to do (and does not show much respect for the property of others, I have found out the hard way). As a result, I now have the check engine light on all the time, and it sounds like a rattle trap.


Allowing a gasoline vehicle to idle for that amount of time can damage the catalytic converter as the cat. may overheat.
 

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Allowing a gasoline vehicle to idle for that amount of time can damage the catalytic converter as the cat. may overheat.

It is actually quite the opposite, catalytic converter might not get HOT ENOUGH, making it less effective. So you are sitting there, emission controls not as effective as they could be and you are burning up gas that doesn't need to be burned (and I am far away from being a tree hugger, I just hate waste ;))


Other problems with idling is risk of CO poisoning and unaccounted engine wear (since automotive engines use odometer and not hour counter).


It is just a bad idea! BTW, cops are the worst violators when it comes to idling! And they are exempt from following this law...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's nice to have these opinions to show the person in question, who has mistreated my car. All I am told over and over is "it's an old car". Yeah well, it was in beautiful shape before he got his hands on it. No good deed goes unpunished. Not that it was not also supposed to help me (my Mom was ill, who later died earlier this year, and this person was chosen as the driver, since I could not drive at the time, health wise). But he had no car to get to work, so the arrangement was supposed to benefit all involved, without risking my property.

I'm not a mechanic, but to me it's just common sense to not leave a car idling like that. I was told by a few mechanics up here, that it also causes oil or something to leak into the spark plugs. I'm glad to have these opinions of someone not just "a woman" like myself. All I know is my car is having real troubles, and that does not include some body damage (minor but still) and that the inside was treated like a trash dump.
 

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I have never "changed" the oil in the power steering, but occasionally i draw all the fluid out of the holding tank and top it back up with fresh auto transmission fluid.
The fluid level in our Rav4 with 305,000klms (189,000miles) has never dropped.
 

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It is actually quite the opposite, catalytic converter might not get HOT ENOUGH, making it less effective. So you are sitting there, emission controls not as effective as they could be and you are burning up gas that doesn't need to be burned (and I am far away from being a tree hugger, I just hate waste ;))


Other problems with idling is risk of CO poisoning and unaccounted engine wear (since automotive engines use odometer and not hour counter).


It is just a bad idea! BTW, cops are the worst violators when it comes to idling! And they are exempt from following this law...

Yep, according to what I've now read about exhaust converters that is correct. I was operating from remembering a prominent warning in an old owner's manual, which now I recall was from a rotary engine Mazda. Those engines produced a very hot exhaust which was cleaned by using a thermal converter which got extremely hot, especially when idling with no air flow over the converter., rather than using a catalytic one. Now some warnings are that excessive idling with a cat. can result in clogging the cat with residue, since the converter doesn't get hot enough. Thanks for getting me to do some updating research! :smile
 

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Hmmmm...

Trying to think what I would do if I was in that situation.
A new son in law?
Get my RAV back ?
 
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