DIY: Power Steering Fluid


Graham Ratermann

Power Steering fluid is an essential auto fluid; it allows drivers to turn the wheel with minimal effort. Almost all modern automobiles use a rack and pinion form of steering and power steering fluid is essential to keeping this system running properly. Below are the steps to checking and, if need be, replacing your car’s power steering fluid.
Step 1: Most of the time power steering is an afterthought, but if you suddenly experience difficulty turning the steering wheel, stiffness in the steering wheel or hear a high pitched whine while turning then you should check your power steering fluid.
Step 2: A wide variety of power steering fluids can be purchased at almost any hardware or automotive store and most gas stations have at least one selection to purchase in the automotive section. For most cars, generic power steering fluid is compatible, but Hondas require a Honda specific power steering fluid.
Step 3: After acquiring power steering fluid the next step to checking and replacing it is to pop the hood of your vehicle. On most cars this is achieved by pulling some sort of lever inside the car and then lifting the hidden latch on the front of the hood.
Step 4: After lifting the hood you’ll have to locate the power steering fluid reservoir. There are multiple reservoirs for all the different types of fluids but each should be labeled and with a little searching you should find the right one
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Step 5: After finding the reservoir either screw off or pull of the top. This top will act as a normal dip stick and have markings on it to inform you of the amount of power steering fluid in the reservoir. If the fluid is below the acceptable mark or in the region that says fill then you will need to add fluid. Be sure to note that if the engine has recently been ran then the levels will be different. On some cars there are two sets of markings to indicate the appropriate levels for a hot and cold engine. Also pay attention to the color of the fluid, it’s good if the fluid is clear or pinkish. If the fluid is brown or a dark nasty color it can indicate that a part of the power steering system has been corroded and has contaminated the fluid.
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Step 6: If your levels are low begin pouring power steering fluid directly into the reservoir. Do this slowly and as you go replace the dipstick and recheck the amount of fluid to avoid over filling. It is better to under fill than to over fill as power steering fluid expands when it’s heated and an overfilled reservoir can burst power steering tubes and cause more damage.
Step 7: Replace the cap and close the hood. You have now checked and replaced your power steering fluid. It should last for awhile but if you find your vehicle exhibiting signs of needing fluid regularly and are routinely refilling the reservoir then you may have a serious power steering leak and should seek help from a professional mechanic.
By Graham Ratermann