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Roger, BMW Master Tech
Category: BMW
Satisfied Customers: 5895
Experience:  10 yrs. experience as BMW Master Technician, shop foreman and dealer.
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Hello I have an ongoing problem with my 5 series touring

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I have an ongoing problem with my 5 series touring E61 it appears that the steering has been leaking fluid from somewhere but my local BMW dealer has to date been unable to locate or identify the problem. It has been "topped up" 4 times and after 4-5 days it seems to start leaking from the tray under the column the last patch was aroung 3 square feet in size. Directly after "topping up" with pentosin the steering is as perfect as it was sveral weeks ago - by day 5 the sterring is stiff to start and then the problem worsens over time Could you tell me what this is indicative of and what the problem may be?
Thanks for your kind attention

Hello Doug,


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you with this problem.

This is an odd problem. To me it sounds like it may be the steering rack itself that may be leaking from a seal at the shaft. One thing many techs forget to check as well is the rubber boots of the tie rods where it attaches to the steering rack. The boots can hold fluid when the internal seal in the rack is leaking and then it can burp out and leak. It may be that the fluid is filling up inside this boot and then leaking out.

Since this occurs in such a short period of time, if they do not find it in these locations I would then recommend having the foreman at the dealer drive it for a few days and monitor the fluid and location of any leak. I often do this at my dealer and I find it invaluable in tracing difficult problems. This way they will be able to experience the problem first hand and it should lead to a fix for you.

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if I can help further by responding back. Please provide positive feedback once satisfied with my help as this is the only way I receive credit for helping you today.

Thank you and best wishes with this problem.

Kind Regards,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Roger

thanks for your prompt reply they mentioned a tray to me at the base of the steering column which acts like a sponge and after this becomes saturated it may spill over hence why it takes 5 or so days before it becomes apparent is this related to either of the 2 points you have noted

what is the worst scenario?



Hello Doug,


Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was on a test drive :)

All modern BMW's have a reinforcement plate and underbody panels which often catch fluids like this. Your E61 will have both.

What they need to do to solve this would be to fully clean the panels and then each day it is driven monitor the loss of fluid in the reservoir and check to see the location of the fluid being caught on the tray. This should help localize the leak for you. Once the panels get saturated it is hard to tell where the fluid came from due to the air flow making it spread out.

The locations I noted is just some things I have seen that may have been over looked by the tech. Especially the boots on the rack. This may only be a crush washer leaking where the high pressure line attaches to the rack. Inspecting it each day after it was fully cleaned will help them find this. Also they can add dye to the system to help trace the leak as well. They would use the same dye that is added to oil systems.

Worst case scenario would be that this is indeed the rack that is leaking as this would be the highest cost for repairs. Hopefully though it may prove to be a crush washer that is not sealing in which case the cost would just be in labor to replace the crush washers.

I hope this helps Doug.

Let me know if I can clarify anything for you further.

Kind Regards,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks again Roger

Just one final question on the subject as I would prefer to be well prepared for worst case scenarios would you in your experience expect this (faulty rack) kind of problem in a vehicle which is 4 years old and has less than 18,000 miles on the clock?

many many thanks for your very kind attention


It would not be usual for there to be any leaks like this on such a low mileage vehicle but I have seen many different failures in the 10+ years I have been with BMW that fall into the unusual zone :)

With a problem like this your mechanic needs to take the time to go through this step by step and make sure nothing is overlooked. I have seen the boots be overlooked by quite a few mechanics so it is the best possibility that comes to mind. Hopefully though with careful cleaning and monitoring the leak over the course of a few days it should lead to a successful diagnosis. There is obviously a leak that needs to be addressed as the loss of fluid is definitely indicative of a failure. Hopefully they will trace it to a crush washer. If they still cannot find any leaks I know I would be replacing the crush washers and then cleaning and rechecking as just part of diagnosis.

I hope this helps Doug and I wish you the very best.

It has been a pleasure trying to help you with this.

Best Regards,


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