I have a '96 Buick LeSabre with only 48000 miles. A few months ago, I was told after an oil change at an independent shop that the power steering pump was leaking and that I needed to replace it. I went to a Buick dealer and the Service Advisor confirmed it. He said he could either re-seal the pump or replace it. But he also said that the problem was not that serious and that I could delay the repair. I could feel no steering problem while driving, so I did not fix the pump.
Last week I was told again about the steering pump leak by the same independent repair shop where I had my oil change. However this time, he said because I did not replace the power steering pump before, the steering rack has gone bad and that I need to change that too. (He did not test-drive the car, just looked under to see the fluid leak). I went again to the dealer to have a second opinion. The same service advisor I had previously confirmed that the pump was leaking and that I also would need to replace the steering gear. (I did not know if he test-drove the car.) However, he said that the steering gear problem is not due to my delay in replacing the pump. It's because my car is 15 years old even though it has only about 48,000 miles. Strangely, he also said that I did not need to do the work right away. Apparently, the leak is minor, and I'm in no danger while driving even on the expressway.
As of now, I do not have any steering problem (such as noise or hard to steer). My questions are: Is the Service Advisor at the dealer correct in saying that I could delay servicing the power steering system? And is re-sealing instead of replacing the pump a good idea? Can you tell if the steering gear is bad just by looking at it?
One final question. Is it likely that I will have other expensive problems (such as transmission) in the near future just because the car is old (15 years)?
Thanks for any help I can get.