Motormouth Online

How do I dispose of an abandoned car with power-steering fluid leaking?

Our tech guru has the answers to your car questions

I have been a big fan of Top Gear since October 2005. I was still in Grade 6 back then! Every month, it has been my ritual to buy and read your magazine, which informs me about the latest cars available on the local market today. Keep up the good work of bringing joy to car enthusiasts like me and keeping the motoring public informed.

I am writing this letter because of our 1999 Mitsubishi Galant Super Saloon. Our family got it brand-new, and it served us well for almost 13 years. It used to be our daily commute to school and work. On weekends, we used the car for malling and eating out. It had been to the beaches in La Union and to Baguio thrice already. This car also saw special occasions like birthdays, weddings, proms and debuts. In fact, this was my first car when I started driving in late 2008 and early 2009.


Last year, my mom and dad thought about selling this car and replacing it with a new Toyota Camry. Unfortunately, some of the registration papers were missing since this car had been initially used by my late grandparents during the first two years. Another problem is that the power-steering fluid is already leaking, and it would be very expensive if we have it fixed. The car has now been abandoned in the garage for almost nine months already. We're set on taking this car to the junkyard. I hope you can help us on how we can dispose of this car without having to mind the registration-paper problems.

Thank you and more power!

Alex Romualdez


Hello, Alex. If the registration documents are in either of your parents' names and you still have photocopies or original copies of the registration documents, I believe you can execute an affidavit of loss for the missing documents and have the LTO issue you new copies. That should allow you to sell the car and get the best value out of the sale of the vehicle.

Watch now

On the off chance that the vehicle's registered owner is deceased, it will pose more of a challenge. Your family can, in all likelihood, keep renewing the registration as long as you are using the vehicle. While doing so, perhaps you can consult a lawyer as to the best way to have the ownership transferred to you.

I think the best option for you would be to go to the LTO branch nearest you and ask about your options. It doesn't cost much and will get you the most accurate information that you need in solving your problem.

The power-steering fluid leak can be as simple as a failed seal or pressure hose. Either of them usually won't cost much to repair. The only time it will become costly is when the mechanical components of the steering rack has been damaged to the point that even new seals won't last long when the rack is rebuilt. In this case, the only real solution would be replacing the steering rack with one that's in good working order.


In most cases, repair is more cost-effective than replacing the vehicle if you plan to keep the car for years to come. On the other hand, there are many new cars out there that will serve you as well as, if not better than, your Galant did.


Recently, I ran my car over a gutter. My right front tire got ripped and my alloy wheel was damaged (as was the underside of the vehicle). My front passenger hit the dashboard and broke his back. Meanwhile, the passenger seated at the back broke his nose. Is it normal for the airbag not to deploy in such an accident?

I was told that the airbag did not deploy because my car's bumper did not hit anything, hence failing to trigger the airbag mechanism. What if the car rolls over its side? Does a car really need to hit its bumper first before the airbag is deployed? I was also told that my car should be replaced with a new one.


What should I do? I need your help.

Thank you.

Miguel Pacheco


Hi, Miguel. Your letter lacks some details, but I'll try to answer your question to the best of my ability.

The airbag's official name is "supplemental restraint system." Based on its name, it is not the primary restraint system of a vehicle--it is simply an additional restraint. The primary restraint system of a vehicle is the seatbelt. The airbag is only meant to help the seatbelt minimize driver and passenger injuries during the unfortunate event of a frontal collision. Most vehicle models have seatbelts.

If the people inside the car didn't buckle up, the airbag wouldn't help much during a collision because the driver and the passengers would still be thrown out of their seats. The seatbelt's role is to keep passengers in their seats so that in the event of a collision, they would remain seated and avoid bumping into anything inside the car. If you've seen safety-test videos, you'll notice that crash-test dummies all have seatbelts on. For a seatbelt to fulfill its role, however, it must be worn properly: The seatbelt should have a snug fit on the passenger or driver. It has to have as little slack as possible. Otherwise, it will not properly do its job of protecting the vehicle's occupants.


The safety-test videos also show the conditions in which the airbag gets activated. The airbag deploys during a very strong impact such that the car almost instantaneously stops because of the collision. For the airbag to be activated, specific conditions must take place during the accident. Most of these conditions can be seen in safety-test videos.

The airbag system's sensors should be able to detect an impact similar to those seen in the videos in order to trigger the airbag's deployment. These conditions are very specific to avoid having an airbag deploy during normal impacts--an event that is also unfortunate. If these conditions are not met, your car's airbag system won't activate.

In your case, I suppose the collision was not hard enough for your car's airbag to deploy. I believe that car accidents can be avoided if we're alert, vigilant and defensive drivers. We should all be responsible drivers as well, because we are the ones who control the wheel, step on the accelerator and hit the brakes. No accident-prevention mechanism that is greater than responsible and defensive driving has been invented yet.



Best regards,

Ferman Lao
Technical Editor

Do car problems keep you awake at night? Send questions to

Watch now
  • Quiz Results

  • TGP Rating:

    Starts at ₱

    TGP Rating:
    Starts at ₱