A power-steering fluid leak indicates part of the power-steering system is worn or damaged. The most common cause of a power-steering fluid leak is damaged tubing coming from or going to the power-steering pump. There are also two pressure-hose fittings above and below the rotor of the power-steering pump, which are potential leakage points in the power-steering system.
To identify the problematic part, visually inspect the tubing and the pump. If there is no noticeable damage, raise the car on a trolley jack and pour power-steering fluid into the reservoir, closely watching the car until the leak is found. It is important to also correctly identify the leaking fluid. Power-steering fluid is a yellow or light brown color. The fluid has a viscosity similar to cheap maple syrup, and it has a dull, metallic smell.
When there is a leak in the power-steering system, it is important to monitor the power-steering fluid level often. To determine if a car is low on power-steering fluid, turn the wheel all the way to one side. If there is a high-pitched noise or the wheel is hard to turn, this indicates the power-steering fluid is low. When refilling the fluid reservoir, pour the fluid slowly and turn the wheels to either side to fully lubricate the power-steering system.