What is power steering fluid, and how do you check it? Most people rarely think twice about the power steering unit they have in their vehicle, mainly because it’s not a maintenance issue that commonly gets brought up. However, power steering might be one of the most important functions of your car, because if you’re not able to successfully navigate the wheel quickly, your car is an accident waiting to happen.
Here’s how to check your car’s power steering fluid level:
How to check power steering fluid:
If you can’t see inside to examine your fluid, a good way to check is to use a turkey baster and look at the fluid that you pull out from inside the baster.
If the fluid is lighter in color and doesn’t give off a burnt smell, then you probably just need to add more fluid to what you already have. As long as the fluid isn’t dirty and isn’t burnt, it’s usually still good to use.
If your fluid is a darker brown or black color and smells like something that was pulled from a fire, however, that’s when you might need to flush your power steering fluid. One common way to replace your fluid is to simply remove the contaminated fluid with the turkey baster and replace it with newer fluid. If you’re only somewhat savvy when it comes to cars, this method of replacement rather than a full flush is a much safer way for you to handle your car’s maintenance.
How to FLUSH power steering fluid:
If you know what you’re doing when it comes to cars, however, a full power steering flush makes sense. The best way to do a proper flush requires the help of a friend who you can trust to start the car while you examine the fluid.
- Disconnect the main low-pressure hose from the steering pump, allowing the contaminated fluid to drip out of the bottom.
- Add enough new fluid to fill the system to the halfway mark, making sure that you’ve filled the steering system to the halfway point before starting the vehicle.
- Once you have the system at the halfway point, have your friend start the vehicle to get the power steering pump engaged.
- For best results, you’ll want your friend to turn the steering wheel back and forth to help get the new fluid pumping through the system.
- As this is happening, you’ll notice the old fluid coming out of the back to be replaced by the new fluid. What you need to watch for when you replace power steering fluid is the color of the fluid that’s coming out of the system.
- Once the color that comes out matches what you know is new fluid, then this part of the job is done and it’s time to get the hoses reattached.
Power steering change cost?
For some people, the average power steering fluid change cost of $115 isn’t something that bothers them, but if you’re the type that doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty, it’s a relatively simple process that can lead to some moderate savings.
In fact, you can check the monthly flyer of stores like Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone to see if they have any on sale in-store. If you’re lucky, one of their mechanics might even check it for free at your local store.
The first thing to know about a power steering fluid change is that it’s not always necessary to go for a full flush. In order to know if a full flush is necessary, it’s a good idea to take a look at the existing fluid that’s already in your power steering system.
Test your power steering
However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the job is done and getting right back on the road immediately after you complete a power steering fluid change. Once you think you’ve removed all of the contaminated fluid from the system, it’s time to put the cap back on and test the steering with the car in a safe area.
Make sure that the wheel turns smoothly in each direction. When you operate the wheel, it should be easy to turn, with no difficulty in changing direction. If you find yourself getting stuck making a turn and having to use incredible force to complete it, that’s a sign that you might have a bigger steering problem.
Checking & flushing your power steering fluid is an important habit!
When you really think about it, the decision to replace power steering fluid is mostly about common sense. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a very straightforward maintenance procedure that you can do at home. If you can read a dipstick and determine how much fluid to add, managing your power steering fluid and keeping yourself and others safe on the road won’t be a difficult task at all!