Verado power steering fluid mystery: where did it go?

Repair or modification of Boston Whaler boats, their engines, trailers, and gear
Foulweather Jack
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:56 pm

Verado power steering fluid mystery: where did it go?

Postby Foulweather Jack » Tue Apr 19, 2016 5:14 pm

The power steering pump on my Mercury Verado 250 failed last year and was replaced by the dealer.

Last weekend I started the process of getting the Conquest 235 out of mothballs and commissioned for the summer. I notice that when I turn on the engine, there is a mechanical whirring and stirring sound beneath the steering wheel, and when I check the fluid level in the power steering reservoir, it is quite low.

I'm quite certain that all I need to do is top of the steering fluid and I should be good to go, but where did the steering fluid go over the last year? I don't see any evidence of hydraulic fluid in the bilge, and it seems unlikely to me that it would simply evaporate, being contained in a sealed system.

Any ideas? Should I be concerned? Anything else to troubleshoot?

As always, I appreciate the sage advice on this forum.

ASIDE: I haven't visited since last year, so had to re-register to get onto the new forum. Jim, I like the new look!

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Re: Verado power steering fluid mystery: where did it go?

Postby Jefecinco » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:12 pm

Was the garboard drain plug removed during storage? If so, I imagine the fluid leaked onto the surface beneath the boat. It did not evaporate and it is not in the bilge so it must have leaked outside the boat.

I have no knowledge of the physical characteristics of Verado power steering fluid but unless it's quite different than ordinary automotive power steering fluid it very thin, often colorless and not very viscous. Several Verado owners have reported difficulty in locating leaks of the fluid. The leaks are usually finally located at the steering arm where it exits the steering ram or at one of the hose connections. Because the pump was recently replaced I would look at the hose connections at the pump first.

When the fluid is topped up you will probably be able to find the leak. Automotive stores may sell a dye that can be added to fluid to help locate leaks.

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Re: Verado power steering fluid mystery: where did it go?

Postby jimh » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:05 am

As JEFE' remarked, the hydraulic fluid used in hydraulic steering is very thin and will flow until it is only about one-molecule thick, so it will flow away from the source of the leak and go anywhere downhill from there.

From your narrative, it sounds like there is a leak in the hydraulic system. With power steering there are many additional connections. The front seal at the helm steering wheel is also a common source for leaks.

You should be very concerned. If the hydraulic fluid level is very low you could lose steering capability. That's not a good situation for a big boat with a 250-HP engine.