How Often Should I Check My Power Steering Fluid?

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid dramatically decreases the amount of effort drivers put into turning their wheels. It’s critical that the system builds enough pressure in order to provide proper hydraulic support. Making sure the power steering fluid is full and clean is the first step in helping to ensure your power steering system will work as it was designed for. Come in today to one of our Southern California Ford Dealers and get your maintenance services done, and for added convenience you can also schedule an appointment by calling or online.

The hydraulic fluid amplifies our steering efforts making your tires much easier to turn as they support the weight of the vehicle. Checking the power steering fluid is a part of your regular car maintenance schedule, which should be done several times a year. Often, people check their fluids in general 4 times a year, or with the change in seasons. However, if you have reason to believe there may be an issue with your vehicle’s power steering system, the first step is to check the fluid level. Below we have listed the major warning signs of low steering fluid.

Signs of Low Power Steering Fluid

  • Whining or grumbling while turning
    • Stiff steering
    • Slow steering response
  • Leaking red power steering fluid
  • Erratic or jolty steering at low speeds

How to Check Your Power Steering Fluid

Locate the power steering fluid reservoir, which is typically located at the top of the engine where you have easy access. It usually has a black cap, which will have a dip stick attached to the bottom of it inside the tank. Open the cap, clean off the dipstick with a towel, and reinsert it into the tank so that you get a true measurement. Pull out the dipstick and read the fluid level.

In addition to the fluid level, you want to check its color. Power steering fluid is dark pink in color and has a very potent and unique smell. If the fluid has a brown or black tint to it, smells burnt, or has excess bubbles or foam, there is cause for concern. The fluid may be old or contaminated.

What Kind of Power Steering Fluid to Buy?

The type of power steering fluid you need is typically specific to the automotive manufacturer. Newer models often use a synthetic fluid with very different chemical properties than traditional power steering fluid. You will want to look up your specific fluid type in your owner’s manual, or have a dealership or store look it up for you.

One of the most common questions is regarding the use of transmission hydraulic fluid in the power steering system. While this was once an option for much older vehicles, modern cars, trucks, and SUVs do not permit the use of transmission fluid in place of power steering fluid. You risk damaging the pump and other steering components, and getting decreased power steering function. Only use the manufacturer recommended power steering fluid.

If you suspect that your power steering system is struggling, don’t wait to check for signs of low fluid and other common issues. Your Southern California Ford Dealers are here to help with your car care maintenance needs. We are happy to serve all makes and models.