How to check and add power steering fluid

Power steering fluid plays a very important and huge part in your car’s life and performance, it is one of the things that makes sure your car is running smoothly on the road.

Without power steering fluid in your car, you would be in a lot of trouble. This is why it is important for you to learn about power steering fluid, how it works, and how it works. So that you can not only take proper care of your car, but you can also tell when something is not right. 

In this article today, I will be telling you everything and more you need to know about power steering fluid, including how you can add or check it. I will also give you guys a small FAQ section with the most asked questions about the power steering fluid so that you guys can have it all in one article. Not only this but a very thorough step-by-step guide is waiting for you down below too! So, let’s dive right into it okay?

power steering fluid

1. What is a power steering fluid?  

Just like humans need the energy to work, machines need the energy to run too, machines take this energy in different forms like for example here in cars, they take it in the form of power steering fluid. To be more precise with you, just like the engine that needs lubrication to work in a proper and healthy manner from time to time, and to keep the internal elements from getting old. 

Just like that, a power steering system also requires a lubricant of its own to help the components of the power steering system to survive and not wear out, that lubricant that helps the power steering system is known as power steering fluid. Running low on power steering fluid can affect the power steering system, which is why you should keep checking the levels of power steering fluid in your vehicle’s system.    

2. Why should you check and add power steering fluid?

Like I said above, power steering fluid is an essential part of a modern-day car. In the old days, power steering fluid was known to be a luxury to both cars and their owners, but as time passed, power steering fluid became an important element in everyday cars. 

It is important to keep checking the power steering fluid of your car since if the car is running low on power steering fluid, it can create some outcomes that are not favorable for you or your car at all. Therefore, you should be taking your car to monthly check-ups or if you use it more than often, you should take it to weekly check-ups and get its power steering fluid checked and filled.        

Read about the process: How To Flush Power Steering Fluid in Honda

How Power Steering works 

Almost identical to the brake system, the power steering system works as a hydraulic system. The power steering system is known as power-assisted steering because of the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels of your car. Your car’s engine pumps the steering fluid all the way from the reservoir to the rack and pinion utilizing a belt and pulley. 

When the steering wheel is turned the power steering fluid then flows through the piston providing more power to your car to run in a direction.  

3. What does the power steering fluid do?

Power steering fluid plays an important role in the steering assist process. The pump circulates the fluid with the help of the hydraulic pressure, which then allows the piston that’s in the steering gear to move, which helps reduce the effort while turning the wheel. the rotary control valve delivers pressure to the piston, depending on the direction the wheel is turned, releasing from the other side. When the pressure rises, the piston moves, making the car turn in a specific direction.     

How to check and add Power steering fluid – Step By Step Guide 

Search for the reservoir cylinder Are you having trouble turning the steering wheel or hearing a high-pitched whining noise from the steering wheel when you turn it? Looks like your power-steering fluid is low. The power steering fluid, as I said before can be found in the reservoir near the power steering pump or remotely located with hoses from the pump and should be clearly labeled. 

If you can’t find it, you don’t have to upset yourself, you can easily find it labeled in the owner’s manual of your vehicle or if you don’t have your owner’s manual you can consult a professional and they will help you find it in no time! 

 level of power steering fluid

Check the level of power steering fluid

Once you have successfully located the reservoir cylinder, the rest is a piece of cake. 

Now all you must do is to see the level of power steering fluid that is in the cylinder. If your vehicle’s cylinder is made up of plastic, then you can easily and clearly see the level of power steering fluid from the outside.

But, if your vehicle’s cylinder is not made up of plastic or is made up of plastic but the kind that is too thick, you don’t have to worry! All you must do is to get a dipstick and check the level of your power steering fluid through that.   

  • Note that some cars can be only checked after the engine has been turned off for a long period of time (4 hours max), while other times you may need to turn the steering wheel in one direction several times while the car’s engine is off. 
  • Make sure to make the dipstick right after the car has been turned off and after a few hours of the car is turned off, these are known as both hot and cold levels of the steering fluid
Read Also: Power Steering Fluid Symbol
adding power steering fluid

Examine how much of the dipstick is covered by the power steering fluid.

When using a dipstick to determine the level of the power steering fluid in your vehicle a lot of people tend to get confused, no more though, so let’s get started! All you have to do is to take a dipstick, dip it in the cylinder thoroughly, take it out, wipe off the excess fluid that you may see on the dipstick when you take it out of the cylinder.

Once you have done that, reinsert it into the cylinder once again, as far as you can this time, and then pull it out, yes you are all done here! 

Examine the color of the fluid

Once you have dipped your dipstick into the power steering fluid thoroughly and taken it out, it is now time to observe it. One thing that you need to learn here is that a good kind of power steering fluid is never gushy or dark in color. A good power steering fluid will always be transparent, amber, or sometimes even pink. So, if you see your power steering fluid turning dark, understand that it has gotten old and bad and needs to be replaced.  

Note that if your power steering fluid is black or brown you need to know that it is because there are bits of rubber in it that might have come from connecting hoses etc. in this case, you will be taking your car to the mechanic or the repair shop to get it checked.  

If you can’t see the color of your power steering fluid clearly or if you are unsure about it, what you will do is that you will stain a rag or a paper with it and then look at the rag or the paper closely to see the color, that will help you. 

Adding power steering fluid 

Last but not the least step, adding power steering fluid in your vehicle and that too in the right amount, in the right way. So, let’s start! Firstly, what you will do is that you will see if your car has graduations on the cylinder, you can easily and steadily add the power steering fluid until you touch the hot or the cold levels of your cylinder, whichever you think works for you. 

add power steering fluid

Before you go all the way in filling your cylinder, make sure you do a double-check with your dipstick just in case you don’t want to overflow your cylinder in any way.   

  • Make sure you are only using the power steering fluid that has been strictly recommended to your car/ vehicle. Since it is made with the correct thickness for your car power steering system. 
  • Most car manufacturers do not recommend using transmission fluid for power steering fluid. When you go out in the market, you will see that there are many fluids that are made, but each for its own purpose and if any of those fluids is used in each other’s place, they might cause your car to stop working. 
  • Be careful not to overfill your power steering unit with fluid, better underfill it than overfill it. Since the power steering fluid tends to expand while working or while it is heated, so if you were to fill your cylinder all the way up with power steering fluid when you drive your car, your cylinder will overflow because of the expansion and that can create problems in your car which will require serious repairs.  

Questions and Answers (Q/A’s)

1. Can I drive without a power steering fluid?

Yes, you can drive without a power steering fluid, but it will only end up damaging your car very badly, which will cost you a lot of repairs, so it won’t very wise to drive without a power steering fluid.

2. How often do I need to change my power steering fluid?

If you are someone that uses their car a lot, then you should be changing your power steering fluid at least once a week but if your car isn’t being used very often then you should change it every month or so. 

3. What affects power steering fluid?

The moving parts in the steering system affect the power steering fluid of your car. 

4. Does it matter what powers steering fluid I use?

Every car has its own specific power steering fluid that is designed by keeping the design of the car’s steering system in mind, which is why you should only be using the power steering fluid that is recommended for your own car.

5. Can you lose power steering fluid without a leak?

Yes, you can lose power steering fluid without a leak by keeping your engine on and running when you are on the road for a long time. The drips of the power steering fluid can be blown on the road or can be blown back under the engine of your own car. 

6. How long should the power steering fluid last?

You should keep checking your power steering fluid every month or so, you will need to replace your power steering fluid every 3-5 years which means your power steering fluid will last about 3-5 years too. 

7. What happens if the power steering fluid is too full?

Having a power steering unit that is too full of power steering fluid can cause a fire in your engine due to the heat and the expansion of the power steering fluid.  

8. What happens if your car is low on power steering fluid?

If your car is too low on power steering fluid, meaning your power steering unit has no power steering fluid in it, your steering wheel will face trouble in turning. 

Final Thoughts

Now that we have reached the end of the article, I’m sure by now you know all about the power steering fluid how to add or check it, and more. If you still have any questions or if you still are confused by anything, feel free to go give this article another read. Good luck! 

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