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Q: Power Steering went out

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Power steering went out while on my way to work yesterday. Drove to the closest Auto shop i could find. They told me they have to replace the power steering pump, the rack and pin, high pressure return line, and steam clean the engine. They told me this will cost $1700 and that i must pay in cash, and give them the first half before they start working on it. I asked them what i did that caused these issues to happen they told me that i didnt do anything wrong and that this happens after 100,000 miles on these cars and since i am not a mechanic I have no idea if thats true or not. After reading reviews on this place it seems to be a bit shady and I want to know how this sounds to a professional mechanic.

My car has 107000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Expecting cash and a $1700 repair is definitely a bit out of the norm. Most of the time it isn’t that a shop is crooked, they just lack good customer service skills. It’s true that your VW can be problematic to work on and many will want to cover the possible challenges by replacing everything. I suspect this is the case here.

Obviously, I can’t see your car to make a determination about its needs, but there is one thing that stands out to me. I am not sure of the accuracy, but if your car does indeed need an engine steam cleaning, it sounds like there was a large power steering leak. If things are this messy under your hood, this can make things more difficult to know what will fix you car. Power steering systems are not directly diagnosable like an electrical system or a drivability system. They generally need to have parts replaced as a test procedure. Knowing which part to replace is often a matter of experience. In other words, the technician would have had to "been there done that" and previously see mistakes that he has learned from.

Even so, most of the time it is a fairly straightforward diagnosis and repair in regards to power steering. I completely disagree with the statement; "this happens after 100,000 miles." It is true, 100,000 miles in the point when many problems will begin to occur on any car, but I have never replaced every part of a power steering system to fix a problem. In this regard, I feel they are afraid of working on your car and are simply making the case, if you want us to work on it, this is how we are going to do it. This ensures they will make money.

This is obviously not a very customer friendly tactic, so I would recommend simply choosing another mechanic. Before shelling out the money, definitely have a second opinion on your car in order to properly diagnose the power steering problem and ensure that the appropriate repairs are made.

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