Three Different Types of Power Steering Fluid (& How to Change It)
Although power steering was invented for the first time in 1951 it was not included on every car until many years later. If you’ve ever driven without power steering, you know how difficult it can be to muscle the car where you want it. Thankfully, this isn’t something we need to deal with today, as long as we maintain our vehicles with the right power steering fluid types.
This article will explain the differences in power steering fluid and the replacement steps. This will ensure that you have a smooth ride.
- Power Steering Fluid Types
- How do I change my power steering fluid?
- How do you check the level of your power steering fluid?
- How to Replace Power Steering Fluid
- Price to Replacing Power Steering Fluid
- Commonly Asked Questions
Power Steering Fluid Types
ATF Transmission Fluid, Synthetic-Based and Universal Power Steering Fluid are the most popular types of power steering fluid. All these power steering fluid types have their own properties and it’s important to choose the right type for your car.
Below is a list that explains the differences in power steering fluids:
1. ATF Transmission Fluid
Automatic transmission fluid is compatible with some vehicles. You can use Dexron and Mercon or ATF+4, Type F, as well as other types of transmission fluid for power steering in these vehicles.
Automatic transmission fluid is used on most domestic cars from the 1970s to the middle of the 1990s. This includes vehicles made by Ford, GM or Chrysler. All United States-built Volkswagen models built between 1984 and 1989 use an automatic transmission fluid.
2. Hydraulic Fluid Synthetic on a Basis of Synthetic
Japanese and European cars have different standards for power steering fluid. This means that a synthetic-based high-performance fluid is required to comply with ISO 7308, DIN 51 524T3 and other international standards. Volkswagen, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz are all subject to different standards based on their vehicle's year and make.
Subaru, Toyota and Mitsubishi have their own power steering fluids. The synthetic fluid is built to flow well, even at lower temperatures, thereby improving pump lubrication and extending the system’s life.
3. Universal Power Steering Fluid
You can also use a universal power-steering fluid that is compatible with most modern vehicles. A few companies recommend that you add special additives to the fluid for pump, seal and corrosion protection.
You need to examine the cap on the power steering reservoir in order to determine the right power steering fluid. The information should also be listed in the car owner’s manual.
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How do I change my power steering fluid?
It is more durable than other fluids because power steering fluid is stored in clean environments. In fact, the majority of manufacturers don’t list a recommended service interval for their power steering fluid.
With that said, it’s a general rule of thumb to replace the power steering fluid every 50,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first.
This is when the fluid starts to separate and can cause contamination. The corrosion inhibitors also start to deplete. Combined with the high temperatures underneath the hood, it’s possible for the fluid to start oxidizing.
You can check your owner’s manual to see if the automaker specifies a changing interval or follow the recommended guidelines listed above. You should replace the fluid if it appears darkened or dirty, regardless of how long.
Like any automotive fluid, power steering fluid can be used to lubricate. If it begins to take on debris and moisture, it won’t be as effective. The pump can fail if it is contaminated with old power steering fluid.
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How do you check the level of your power steering fluid?
1. Locate the Reservoir & Pump
You must first know how to check for power steering fluid. A belt drives the power steering pump and it is usually located on one side of your engine.
The reservoir can be found at the top of the pump. In a few vehicles, the reservoir is remote and mounted on the inner fender because there isn’t room on the pump for it. Be sure to turn off your car before proceeding.
2. Take out the cap
Before you take off the cap, it’s important to wipe away any debris or dirt from the area. You don’t want any contaminants getting into the fluid when the cap is off.
The cap must be removed from the reservoir. The reservoir should be inspected for fluid levels using the dipstick, or markings. You might see a FULL indicator or an ADD/LOW mark.
Most vehicles should maintain the same level of fluid throughout the years. You might see a drop in fluid level as the vehicle ages or there's a leak.
3. You can add more fluid
Add more fluid to the reservoir if it is below the recommended level. The fluid expands when it heats up, and you might have different markings depending on whether the system is HOT/COLD.
The fluid reservoir should not be overfilled. If you do, power steering fluid may leak.
RELATED: 6 Signs of a Bad Power Steering Pump (& Replacement Cost)
How to Replace Power Steering Fluid
1. Don't Drain Your System
The fluid must be drained into a container by disconnecting all hoses. There may be some residual fluid.
This will remove the old fluid. To do this, disconnect the return line and reconnect the system. After you turn the engine on, the pump will force the fluid from the hose through the car's cylinder. It is important to catch the fluid in a container.
To ensure that the fluid you are using has been replaced, it is important to rotate the steering wheel with the pump turned.
2. Add Fresh Power Steering Fluid
Connect the return line. Once the old fluid is removed, it's time to change the power steering fluid. You should only use the compatible fluid.
3. You can't turn the power steering wheel.
You can add fluid to the car until it is at full pressure. Turn the steering wheel to the left and right several time. Check the fluid levels regularly to ensure that it is not reduced.
Price to Replacing Power Steering Fluid
If you have your vehicle in the shop for replacement, expect to pay between $95 and $140. For the same price, however, you could do it yourself.
However, if you don’t change the power steering fluid, you could end up with a damaged pump. You might need to spend several hundred dollars on a new power steering pump.
Commonly Asked Questions
What if I want to just fill up my power steering oil?
You can refill the power steering fluid reservoir if it is not empty. If there is a leak, you need to repair the reservoir first. Also, make sure you use the correct power steering fluid.
Which power steering fluid do I need?
Checking the reservoir level is the best way to determine if you car requires power steering fluid. The reservoir usually has a minimum and maximum mark. If the reservoir is lower than this mark you should fill it. If you start hearing bad sounds from your power steering pump while you are turning the wheel, it is also an indication that the level has dropped.
Is it possible to have low power steering fluid
Low power steering fluid can cause rough or jerky steering. It could also cause hydraulic system damage. Low power steering fluid can cause damage to the most important part of your power steering system: the power steering pump.
Which power steering fluid should I use?
The best way to determine which power steering fluid you should use for your car is to check your owner’s manual. It is also possible to shop online for auto parts. Just enter your license plate number. They will give you the right power steering fluid.
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