Drive-stbd Tvm: low hydrolic oil level

Richey rich

Active Member
Sep 23, 2012
393
Lake St Clair
Boat Info
2010 Sea Ray 450 SunDancer
Engines
Twin 480 Cummins w/Zeus pods
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Coming across the lake today and got two error codes. Came to port and docked safely but when below the engine hatch found hydraulic oil dripping down white bottle. After letting it cool dow I took the lid off and found the level to be at the very top. Any ideals?
 
I see not many have replied to this post. Hmmmm. My understanding is that when hydraulic fluid drops and gear fluid rises, there has been a breach between the two systems. This breach can occur if transmission fluid escapes (and thus drops causing the alarm) and commingles with the gear oil side. One way this happens is if the 'cup seal' in the transmission fails and allows hydraulic fluid to move over to the gear oil side. I am unsure where the two sides share a common interface. If this is the case, it is not good news as it may mean a new transmission or at least a removal and repair. Of course, I am no expert and there may be other causes but the earlier pods had this issue. Mercury later improved the 'cup seal' interface to prevent this problem. Keep us posted.
 
I see not many have replied to this post. Hmmmm. My understanding is that when hydraulic fluid drops and gear fluid rises, there has been a breach between the two systems. This breach can occur if transmission fluid escapes (and thus drops causing the alarm) and commingles with the gear oil side. One way this happens is if the 'cup seal' in the transmission fails and allows hydraulic fluid to move over to the gear oil side. I am unsure where the two sides share a common interface. If this is the case, it is not good news as it may mean a new transmission or at least a removal and repair. Of course, I am no expert and there may be other causes but the earlier pods had this issue. Mercury later improved the 'cup seal' interface to prevent this problem. Keep us posted.
Thanks for the reply, it’s scheduled to go into the dealer tomorrow. Their thoughts are that the power steering actuator seal has failed. Seems to be not that uncommon, I have 3rd gen pods (JH). This will involve hauling the boat out, removing the lower pod and maybe a little more. I’m having them do both sides as a precaution in hopes that it keeps me on the water and out of the shop. I’ll let you know after they dig in.
 
boat has been at the dealer a couple days now. They have in fact verified that my problem was the starboard steering actuator seal failed. i am having both sides done as a precaution so that i am not down again any time soon, the dealer is being semi-reasonable and doing the entire job for $7000. I will be back in the water for the weekend and hope to enjoy the rest of the summer there...
 
Those seals are so heat challenged. I really wish Mercury had used a super high heat rubber compound. 7k is reasonable and you will rest easier now that they both are new.
 
Those seals are so heat challenged. I really wish Mercury had used a super high heat rubber compound. 7k is reasonable and you will rest easier now that they both are new.

YES.. i have found that this is a very common fail. not sure why they have not come up with a better solution by now. at least they have the seal kit now, few years back i would have spent close to $30,000 to replace entire steering actuator assembly. so i guess i will take that as a win. now i feel comfortable having both done so i wont be down in the near future with the other side going on me and knowing i could have prevented it!
 
boat has been at the dealer a couple days now. They have in fact verified that my problem was the starboard steering actuator seal failed. i am having both sides done as a precaution so that i am not down again any time soon, the dealer is being semi-reasonable and doing the entire job for $7000. I will be back in the water for the weekend and hope to enjoy the rest of the summer there...
Those seals are so heat challenged. I really wish Mercury had used a super high heat rubber compound. 7k is reasonable and you will rest easier now that they both are new.


Agreed That is a win!

@Richey rich
Just a gentle reminder to ask your guy about turning those FRP tubes so that there is more water going through the actuator and less out the side of the boat.
 
Agreed That is a win!

@Richey rich
Just a gentle reminder to ask your guy about turning those FRP tubes so that there is more water going through the actuator and less out the side of the boat.
thanks for the reminder! I will call him now to mention.
 
thanks for the reminder! I will call him now to mention.

How did you make out @Richey rich ?

I spoke with my cummins guy and he confirmed what i had mentioned about the exhaust tube.
I'll probably leave mine as they are at this point and look to remove the hose and turn it closer to 8pm rather than the 7ish I am now on the stbd side.
 
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How did you make out @Richey rich ?

I spoke with my cummins guy and he confirmed what i had mentioned about the exhaust tube.
I'll probably leave mine as they are at this point and look to remove the hose and turn it closer to 8pm rather than the 7ish I am now on the stbd side.
So far everything is great!! Enjoying our Memorial Day weekend on the boat. Turned out to be gorgeous. No issues
At this point. Changed out 18 hydraulic lines that looked a little sketchy also for good measure.
 
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How did you make out @Richey rich ?

I spoke with my cummins guy and he confirmed what i had mentioned about the exhaust tube.
I'll probably leave mine as they are at this point and look to remove the hose and turn it closer to 8pm rather than the 7ish I am now on the stbd side.
One question I do have. Shop told me to watch the drive lube monitor to make sure if there was an air bubble and dropped to full. Sure enough both have dropped. You just add straight weight 90 correct to the monitor. Bring it up to the cold fill after sitting all night?
 
Sounds very reasonable check the trim and steering fluid in the black reservoir with the yellow top while you're there as well
 
I'm going to jump into your thread since I have a problem on my 2012 450 DA.
I just bought the boat and after only running it for 2 months had the vessel view indicate "TVM: Steer B Press Range Low" and "TVM: Low Hydraulic Oil Level" and "CCM: TVM Standby". After getting back to port showed a hydraulic fluid leak in the water, not in the bilge. Confirmed with my mechanic/captain that it's not gear oil but just hydraulic fluid. We replaced the cooler but that wasn't the problem. Mercruiser tech support doesn't know where it could be leaking and what could be the problem so we are pulling the boat next week and running some tests to find the leak but it is apparently coming out somewhere in the pod.
Anyone had this happen? I'll keep you posted as we find out more but hopefully I don't have to replace the steering drive which I'm told is a $13K part..........
John
 
John it sounds unlikely it's your steering actuator which is indeed a pricey part

I posted on another thread a trouble shooting guide.
To be clear, you are losing hydraulic fluid, not gear lube?
My first pass would be your trim actuators which are a known weakspot.
You can replace those actuators without hauling the boat
 
That's correct hydraulic fluid not gear lube. I met with the Mercruiser authorized mechanic here in Galveston at their shop and according to their experience and what Mercruiser tech support is telling them it's either the steering box or it could be the trim tab actuators but they said we would need to pull the boat to pinpoint where the leak is coming from. The engines only has 250 hours on it so there was some discussion that since it wasn't used a lot that the seals may have failed but we should be able to see the leak when we pull it. They also said that the steering box is cast aluminum and sometimes there are some pinholes that develop if the casting process was flawed but i find that hard to believe with only 250 hours of running.
 
Too little use can be just as bad as too much.
Just curious, when were the pods seals done last?

Trim actuators aren't an inexpensive part, if i recall getting both done was ~6.5k including installation. And i take it back, I did have to haul it out for that. Apologies.
My actuators were original and were not leaking when i surveyed the boat (which had ~250hrs on it in early 2020) and in July one of them started to leak. I thought I would have gotten the season out of them but knew it was coming. I replaced the other side at the same time.

What is the condition of your mercathode system? A cheap, easy upgrade to your mercathode controller is the one with the LEDs
https://www.partsvu.com/mercathode-contrl-8m0100517.html

I did mine and turns out one of my dock neighbors was leaking voltage. He had a bad ground.
 
Shaps, how did your updated mercathode controller alert you to a neighbor's bad ground? If the led light, what did it do?
I have updated my controllers and the led is very handy. My port led was flashing green which is the 'needs service' indication. It turns out my mercathode puck on the midsection plate (above the gear housing) was loose.
 
So the flashing LED led us to test various potential issues. One of them being stray current in the water. Electrician found that...

And agreed, that LED is definitely handy.
 
Too little use can be just as bad as too much.
Just curious, when were the pods seals done last?

Trim actuators aren't an inexpensive part, if i recall getting both done was ~6.5k including installation. And i take it back, I did have to haul it out for that. Apologies.
My actuators were original and were not leaking when i surveyed the boat (which had ~250hrs on it in early 2020) and in July one of them started to leak. I thought I would have gotten the season out of them but knew it was coming. I replaced the other side at the same time.

What is the condition of your mercathode system? A cheap, easy upgrade to your mercathode controller is the one with the LEDs
https://www.partsvu.com/mercathode-contrl-8m0100517.html

I did mine and turns out one of my dock neighbors was leaking voltage. He had a bad ground.

Shaps, we pulled the sea ray 450 today and ran the motor and props and didn't find a leak but when we turned on the trim tab the leak was found. The small seal at the piston was worn. Took about an hour to remove and now will order the replacement part and thank goodness it wasn't the steering box.
This is a picture of the actuator. The square black part doesn't need to be replaced just the part below. Let's see what they quote on the part and labor.
 

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#13 in the attachment is the actuator and #18 is the manifold. That is the black box you see in your photo.
The actuator will more than likely need to be replaced, the seal on the unit itself is not serviceable, meaning mercury doesn't sell a seal kit. ~2.5k per side in parts

Glad you found it!

TrimActuator.PNG
 

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