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How to change power steering fluid – A detailed guide

  • Car Care Tips
  • Samuel Green
  • 4 minutes

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Changing your car’s power steering fluid is not rocket science! With a little know-how and elbow grease, you can get it changed at home and save money. Here’s our detailed guide on how to change the power steering fluid in your vehicle.   

What is a power steering fluid? 

It is a fluid used in the car’s steering system that allows you to seamlessly turn or steer your vehicle. It also lubricates and prevents corrosion of other parts in the power steering system like hoses, pistons, steering pumps, valves and makes them work effectively.   

Types of power steering fluid  

  • Automatic transmission fluid (ATF): Some vehicles are compatible with the automatic transmission fluid for the power steering system.  
  • Synthetic power steering fluid: It is an oil-based fluid specifically made for particular types of cars or power steering systems. Most modern vehicles use these fluids.  
  • Non-synthetic, mineral power steering fluid: These fluids can be used in some instances that accept ATF.  

Power steering liquid reservoir

When should you change your power steering fluid? 

It’s always advisable to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines. The general rule of thumb is replacing the power steering fluid every five years or when your vehicle hits the 50,000 miles mark.  

Another indicator for changing the power steering fluid is a change in its color. Inspect the power steering fluid. If it’s dark – it needs to be light and clear – then it’s time for you to change it. Also, if you notice any debris or sludge in the power steering fluid, flush and replace it immediately.   

If you hear a moaning, squealing, or whining noise while turning your steering wheel or if you notice increased resistance while turning, it could be a sign for you to check the power steering system or change the fluid. Never ignore these signs; a fault in the steering system can put your life at risk.   

Read: How to check manual transmission fluid

How to check power steering fluid  

  • Before you check the power steering fluid, make sure your vehicle is OFF. Now locate the power steering reservoir. In most vehicles, it is found on the top of the power steering pump.   
  • Now, before you remove the cap, wipe the area clean. Clear off any dirt or debris accumulated there to prevent them from falling inside the reservoir. 
  • Next, open the cap and check the fluid level using the attached dipstick or the marking on the reservoir. If the fluid level is below the minimum line, add to the fluid to reach just below the full/maximum line. To avoid any leaks, we recommend you don’t overfill the reservoir. While you’re at it, you can check the state of the fluid and its color. As we mentioned earlier, if you find it dark and filled with contaminants, replace it immediately.  

How to change power steering fluid – A step-by-step guide  

Step 1  

Using a jack, lift the vehicle’s front and place the jack stands underneath to support it.   

Step 2  

After locating the power steering fluid reservoir in your vehicle, open the cap to remove the fluid inside it. You can use a fluid transfer pump or a turkey baster to suck out the fluid.   

Step 3  

When you can no longer suck out the fluid in the reservoir, it’s time to drain the system to remove the remaining fluid by disconnecting the return line.   

Step 4  

The line with clamps attached to the power steering pump is the return line. Now place a drain pan under the return line. Using pliers, remove the clamp and pull the hose off. The remaining fluid will now drain out.  

Step 5   

With the hose still disconnected, turn your car’s steering wheel from left to right. By doing so, you can flush out more fluid. Repeat the process till you see no fluid coming out. Clear of the mess using shop towels.   

Step 6  

To flush out any dirt, grime, and other contaminants, with the return line hose still disconnected, fill the reservoir about halfway with fresh fluid. Now run the engine to allow this fluid to force through the system and drain. If the fluid coming out is in the same color as the fluid you’re pouring; it indicates the system is clean. You can now turn off the engine.  

Step 7  

Reconnect the return line and fill the reservoir with new fluid. Start the engine, check your car’s underneath for any leaks. Start the engine and let it run.

Step 8

Lower your car and take it for a test drive. If you feel the steering wheel is working great, you’ve successfully completed the power steering flush process. If the problem persists, take your vehicle to a professional to get it checked.    

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