How to Change Power Steering Fluid

Ever turned some corners and felt like you were wrestling with an angry bull? Well, before you go bulk up at the gym, it’s better to first learn how to change power steering fluid. This might just be the secret to smoother drives and fewer hiccups down the road. So, buckle up because we’re diving deep into this liquid magic.

Equipped with essential tools like a turkey baster and funnel, you can efficiently drain the old fluid and replenish it with the new. While optional, flushing the system for optimal results is a good idea, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Regular maintenance checks and always making sure you’ve got the right product can keep your turns smooth. 

Why Is the Power Steering Fluid Change Important?

Much like us, our vehicles rely on certain fluids to function at their best. One of these vital liquids is the power steering fluid, which acts as a lubricant and hydraulic medium, enabling effortless turns and protecting the system’s components from wear and tear. 

Think of this liquid as your car’s morning coffee – essential for smooth operations. When it’s not at its best, neither is your vehicle’s performance, making those drives less than enjoyable. 

A person sitting in a Honda and holding the steering wheel
Handling is the deciding factor in a comfortable drive

Signs Your Power Steering Fluid Needs Changing

When your four-wheeler starts to get a bit moody every time you steer, it’s not throwing a tantrum – it’s probably signaling for a little TLC. Like most parts of our beloved rides, from the brake fluid to the spark plugs, this system gives us hints when things are amiss. 

Here are some common signs you need to change the power steering fluid:

Noise When Turning the Wheel

Producing noises isn’t your car’s attempt at making conversation. If you hear a whining or squealing noise, especially when turning, it’s often a sign that this liquid is low or aged, losing its lubricating properties.

Difficulty in Turning the Wheel

Remember the days when turning corners was a breeze? If it’s starting to feel like you’re doing an arm workout every time you make a turn, then the liquid might be due for a refresh. The more compromised it gets, the harder your wheel is to turn.

Vibrations While Driving

Ever felt a subtle tremor in your hands, especially when the car’s idle? Well, it’s not from the shivering cold – this vibration can be an indication that the fluid is contaminated or there’s air in the system. Regular checks can help you stay ahead of this curve.

Leaks Near the Front of the Car

If you spot a small puddle or wet spots around the front of your vehicle, don’t assume your car’s just marking its territory. This could be a leak from the reservoir or system, and it’s a sign that something’s up.

Discolored or Burnt-Smelling Fluid

Your car’s fluids have distinct colors for a reason. If you notice the liquid looking darker than its usual light-red or clear shade or giving off a burnt odor, it’s likely way past its prime and should be replaced immediately.

Here’s a List of the Necessary Tools and Materials

Getting ready to roll up those sleeves and dive into some DIY maintenance? Well, first, you’ll need the right gear. Here are the tools that will help you streamline the whole ordeal:

EquipmentUsed for
Turkey baster or syringeExtracting the old liquid from the reservoir
FunnelPouring in the new liquid without making a mess
Fluid pumpReplacing the liquid efficiently in tight spaces

Half of the Whole Ordeal Is Getting the Right Product for Your Four-Wheeler

When it comes to the type of liquid, it’s not a one-size-fits-all deal. While there are plenty of products that work great with most vehicles, such as the Prestone Power Steering Fluid, it’s best to refer to your car’s manual. That’s the key to making sure you’re picking the perfect view for your ride. 

car care products and accesories, motor oil and car lubricants and additives on shelves for sale
Each and every product you use for your vehicle needs to be the right type

How to Change Power Steering Fluid – Step-By-Step Guide

Finally, we’ve gotten to the real deal – it’s time to venture into this vital maintenance task. So, let’s take a look at all the necessary steps you need to cover in order to replenish that precious liquid that keeps your driving smooth

Start With Putting the Vehicle in a Stable Position

Before you get cracking, make sure your ride’s parked on a flat surface. And, just a heads up – if you’ve been out and about, let your vehicle cool down for a bit. We don’t want any unexpected, scorching surprises when you’re trying to work your magic. 

And as for safety gear—gloves protect hands, glasses shield eyes, and rags and paper towels? Well, let’s just say spills can happen, and it’s always best to be prepared. Remember, safety is the number one driver’s responsibility

Accessing the Power Steering Reservoir

The reservoir is typically labeled, and a quick peek at your manual can be very helpful. But if you’re playing a game of hide-and-seek, remember it’s often towards the front of the engine compartment. Some vehicles have it nestled in more snugly than others, so be patient. 

Draining the Old Fluid With a Turkey Baster or Syringe

Here’s how to siphon off that old liquid without making a mess:

  • Put on gloves to keep your hands clean and protected, 
  • Access the reservoir and open the cap, 
  • Dip your turkey baster or syringe into the reservoir, 
  • Begin to draw out the liquid slowly, 
  • Empty the baster or syringe into a container after each draw, 
  • Continue this process until you’ve removed as much as possible. 

Last but not least, it’s essential to bring the old liquid to a recycling center or automotive shop. It can be harmful to our environment. So make sure to do your due diligence and dispose of this stuff responsibly. 

It’s Recommended to Flush Out the System Thoroughly

After draining, it’s a smart move to give the entire system a good rinse. Think of it as a detox for your precious ride. Using a dedicated flush solution, or if in a pinch, the same type of liquid can work. This ensures that any remnants of the old stuff are gone, setting the stage for the new liquid to shine.

Adding the New Power Steering Fluid and Circulating It

Finally, here’s how to introduce your four-wheeler to its fresh, new liquid:

  • Have a funnel at the ready to avoid any unwelcome spills, 
  • Slowly add the new liquid into the reservoir, ensuring you stop at the recommended level, 
  • Start up your vehicle and gently swivel that steering wheel from one side to the other to distribute the liquid. 

Once you’re done, turn off the vehicle and give it a few moments. Check around for any unexpected drips or unusual smells. If all seems good, you’re all set and in for a smooth ride!

young stressed man having trouble with his broken car looking in frustration at failed engine
There’s no need to stress – this task is fairly straightforward

Here Are a Few Post-Change Checks You Should Take Care Of

After giving your vehicle a little refresh with that crucial liquid, it’s essential to ensure everything is running as smoothly as it should. Here are a few aspects you need to take into consideration:

Testing the Wheel for Any Noises or Stiffness

Hop into the driver’s seat and give that wheel a good turn, left then right. Listen closely. Does everything sound as it should? A well-lubricated system should be virtually silent and move with ease. Any odd creaks or resistance might hint that there’s still some air trapped in the system or there’s another issue at play.

Monitoring for Any Leaks Over the Next Few Days

The days following your little DIY project are crucial. Park your car on a clean patch and observe – any drips or patches are red flags. Drops on the ground could suggest that the reservoir or lines aren’t sealed correctly, and it’s vital to address this promptly.

Rechecking the Fluid Color and Level After Some Use

After you’ve driven around for a bit, pop the hood and peek at the reservoir. The liquid should still be clear, not murky, indicating a clean system. Also, ensure the level remains consistent. If it’s dropping without a visible leak, a deeper investigation might be in order.

Here Are a Few Tips for Ensuring Optimal Performance

Maintaining your car’s steering mechanism isn’t just about occasional refreshes – it’s all about consistent check-ups. Regular peeks under the hood can save you from long-term headaches and costly repairs

A keynote – be wary of mixing different types of liquids meant for this vehicle system. Combining them can lead to complications, from decreased system performance to potential damage. All in all, stay consistent and vigilant, and you’ll ensure a smooth ride for years to come. 

driving car on highway, close up of hands on steering wheel
When it comes to your precious ride, it’s all about consistent maintenance

How Often to Change the Power Steering Fluid

As for this golden question about how often this liquid needs changing – well, every four-wheeler has its own unique timeline. However, most experts suggest a check-up every 40,000 to 80,000 miles, but it’s always wise to peek at your car’s manual to fully understand its needs. After all, prevention is better than cure, especially when you’re cruising through the famous routes in the US

By routinely checking and caring for this system, you’re averting potential expensive repairs or replacements down the road. Plus, a well-maintained steering mechanism offers more responsive handling, giving drivers better control and confidence on the road.

Steering Clear of Troubles and Wrapping It Up

Now that we’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of tending to that essential liquid, you can keep your turns smooth and the drives safe. So, next time you’re out on the open road, you can turn with ease, knowing you’ve got the power in your hands. Here’s to many more miles!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If My Power Steering Fluid Is Low or Needs a Change?

Common indicators include difficulty in turning the steering wheel, whining noise when turning, or the liquid appearing dark and smelling burnt. Regular checks can help spot these signs early.

Can I Mix Different Types of Power Steering Fluids?

No, mixing different types can lead to system damage. Always use the specific fluid type recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

How Often Should I Change My Power Steering Fluid?

Typically, it’s recommended to change the reservoir every 40,000 to 80,000 miles, but always consult your vehicle’s manual for manufacturer-specific intervals.