How to Change Power Steering Fluid? | How to Check Power Steering Fluid?

The efficient working of the steering system is very important to enjoy a comfortable journey. The steering system requires a continuous power steering fluid supply to work efficiently. The power steering fluid makes the steering wheel turn smoothly and keeps the car in good condition.

Your steering wheel may be hard to turn without the power steering fluid. Sometimes, the absence of this fluid may result in a loss of steering ability. This article mainly describes how to check and change the power steering fluid in a car.  

What does Power Steering Fluid do?

The power steering fluid creates a hydraulic connection between the front wheels and the steering wheel of the vehicle. It is basically the hydraulic fluid present in the steering system of any vehicle.

This fluid basically allows the driver to apply the minimum force while turning the steering wheel.

Power Steering Fluid

It also acts as a lubricant to lubricate the rotating parts of the steering system. It also prevents the steering pump and the steering gear from corrosion. It also helps to improve vehicle performance.

The power steering fluid most commonly has a pink, amber, red, or clear color. When it goes bad or old, its color converts into dark brown or foamy.

Types of Power Steering Fluids

The power steering fluid has the following types:

  • Non-synthetic, mineral power steering fluid: Some vehicles that are compatible with the ATF can also use this non-synthetic fluid.
  • Automatic transmission fluid (ATF): ATF has been used in some of the vehicles that are compatible with this fluid.
  • Synthetic power steering fluid: This synthetic power steering fluid is an oil-based fluid used in most modern cars.

How to Change the Power Steering Fluid

Follow the below-given steps to change the power steering fluid in your vehicle:

  1. Park your car
  2. Lift the car
  3. Drain the power steering fluid reservoir
  4. Remove the return lines
  5. Drain the system
  6. Flush the system with fresh fluid
  7. Reconnect the return lines
  8. Add fresh fluid
  9. Check for leaks
  10. Perform a Test Drive

1) Park Your Car

First of all, you need to park your car on a flat surface. Shut off your engine and put your car in “Neutral” or “Park” mode.

2) Lift the Car

Lift the car’s front with the help of the jack and support the car with the help of the jack stand.

Lift the car

3) Drain the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir

Find the power steering fluid reservoir. Look for the power steering pump, as the power steering reservoir is attached to the steering pump.

Remove the cap of the reservoir and drain it. Try to suck the fluid out with the help of the turkey baster.

Drain the power steering fluid reservoir

4) Remove Return Lines

Search for the power steering fluid return lines. The steering system usually has two return lines that are placed under the vehicle. These lines are connected to the steering pump. There are clamps with the return lines that can be removed with the help of the pliers.

remove return lines

5) Drain the System

Put the drain pan under the return lines and also remove the clamps. After removing the clamps, remove the hose by pulling it. The fluid will run out from the ends, and that will be a little messy.

Now, turn the steering wheel left and right several times. This steering movement will evacuate the pump and remove the old fluid more rapidly and properly throughout the steering system. Repeat the movements till all of the old fluid is out of the system.

6) Flush the System with Fresh Fluid

Now fill half the reservoir with the new power steering fluid and start the engine, but the return lines still should be disconnected.

Flush the steering system

When the engine starts working, the fresh fluid will be forced into the steering system and discharged from the bottom. In this process, all of the dirt will be expelled from the steering system. Again, steer the steering wheel all the way to the right and all the way to the left, and keep doing it until all the fluid has drained out.

Check if the drained fluid has the same color as the fresh fluid. If yes, then the steering system is clean. Turn the engine off.

7) Reconnect the Return Lines

After flushing the system, reconnect the return hose to its original place by using pliers. Use a new clamp so that the clamp may grab the hose tightly.

8) Add Fresh Fluid

Now, fill the reservoir with fresh fluid until it reaches its “full” mark. Place the cap on the reservoir and turn on the engine for a few seconds. Some of the fluid will be sucked into the steering system. Remove the cap once more and add more fluid into the reservoir.

add fluid in the power steering reservoir

9) Check for Leaks

Turn the engine on and look to see if you find any fluid under the car to inquire about the leaks. Keenly observe the hose you disconnected; there are many chances of leakage from that point.

check for power steering fluid leaks

Now again, move the steering wheel left and right until the new fluid goes up in the steering system, and keep filling the reservoir until its maximum mark. Stop filling when the level in the reservoir stays the same even after moving the steering wheel.

Read More: Power Steering Fluid Leak Symptoms and Causes

10) Perform a Test Drive

Remove the jack and the support and lower the vehicle to the ground. Turn the steering wheel to the left and right. Apparently, all the things are normal; take the car for a test drive. Check if the steering wheel is smooth; if yes, congratulations, you have done it.

perform a test drive

Where Is the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir Located?

The location of the steering fluid reservoir varies according to the vehicle’s make and model. The power steering fluid reservoir is usually located under the hood on the passenger side. In some cases, it may be present on the driver’s side.

power steering reservoir

The reservoir is white or yellow in color, with a black lid on it. The word “steering fluid” or “power steering is printed on the cap.

What color is Power Steering Fluid?

Fresh power steering fluid is of a red, amber, or pink color and is in a clear state. If the fluid in the car is brown or foamy, then it is old and contaminated. If your fluid is contaminated or old, flush the steering system and replace the fluid.

How to check Power Steering Fluid?

  • Park the vehicle, turn off the engine, and apply the parking brakes.
  • Open the hood of your car.
  • After opening the hood, search for the power steering fluid reservoir. The reservoir’s cap has the steering fluid symbol and is usually placed near the engine.
  • Remove the cap from the reservoir and wipe out the dipstick.
  • Check the fluid level by observing the markings on the dipstick. The dipstick normally has two markings: “Full” and “Add.” Your car’s fluid level should be between these two marks.
  • If the fluid is less than the “Add” line, you need to add more fluid.
  • If it’s at a lower level, refill the reservoir until it reaches the “Full” mark. Do not overfill the reservoir.
  • After adding the fluid, put the cap on the reservoir and tightly close it.
  • Start the engine and turn the steering to the left and right.
  • Now turn off the engine and again check the level of the fluid in the reservoir.
  • If the level is low, fill the reservoir again until it says “full.”

Always use the compatible fluid for your car’s steering system; you can consult the car manuals for this purpose.

FAQ Section

When to Change Power Steering Fluid

Change the fluid every two years or after driving 50,000 miles. You can also consult the user manual to see the manufacturer’s recommended time for changing the fluid according to the model and make of your car.

How do I know my Power Steering Fluid needs to be replaced?

When your power steering fluid becomes old or contaminated, your steering system produces one or more of the below-given symptoms:

  • The odd sound coming from the steering system of your vehicle is one of the clear signs that you need to replace your power steering fluid. This noise usually produces when you turn the steering of your car. This sound is due to trapped air in the steering system due to the lower fluid levels.
  • Rough steering condition feels when the steering is too hard for the driver to turn while driving.
  • Effort while turning the steering wheel
  • Brown, milky, or foamy steering fluid in the reservoir. This brown fluid is the old, dirty fluid that has worn out over time.

All of these factors can be symptoms of bad power steering fluid. When you observe such a situation in the steering wheel system of your car, it indicates that there is a need to replace the fluid.

What happens when the power steering fluid is low?

A pump is used in the power steering system for the smooth and perfect movement of the power steering wheel. When the fluid levels in the steering system are low, the air becomes trapped in the system and produces a stage sound whenever the power steering wheel is turned. To avoid these conditions, refill the reservoir with fresh power steering fluid.

Does power steering fluid go bad?

The power steering fluid doesn’t expire. However, the fluid must be changed over time to ensure the smooth operation of your power steering wheel.

Can I drive without power steering fluid?

Driving without the power steering fluid may damage the steering pump and engine. There will not be any physical symptoms that will cause your car to stop. If there is a leak and the pump becomes dry, the friction increases and heat is produced. This can cause expensive damage in the future.

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