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Like all fluids in your vehicle, Autozone power steering fluid plays a specific and important role in keeping your car running at peak performance. This fluid is critical in providing hydraulic assist to your namesake system so you can easily turn your vehicle’s steering wheel. It also helps lubricate the power steering pump and steering components. Power steering fluid even prevents corrosion. Since this liquid serves a variety of different purposes, you can see why using the correct type is so important.
Is power steering fluid the same as brake fluid?
Some of the other important fluids in your vehicle are brake fluid and transmission fluid. While they all have the same general function (keeping your car running smoothly), they all have different properties to help them do their specific jobs.
No, power steering fluid is not the same as brake fluid, and you should never use brake fluid as a substitute if you find your power steering fluid is low. It has a very different chemical composition and could damage your vehicle.
Can automatic transmission fluid be used for power steering?
It gets a little trickier when you’re trying to decide if you can use automatic transmission fluid instead of power steering fluid. You want to make sure you’ve done your homework on this one before you consider changing fluids. While some systems were designed to use automatic transmission fluid, others require that you only use fluid in the steering wheel.
Before doing any maintenance on the car yourself, be sure to check your owner’s manual to see what the car manufacturer recommends. You should specifically state in the manual which one to use. Some models require specific types of fluids, such as synthetics, so it’s worth taking the time to research the correct information. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, contact an auto mechanic or car dealer and talk to the service department.
Using the wrong type of fluid can damage some plastic and rubber seals and components inside your vehicle. And, if it doesn’t mix well with the liquid you’re adding it to, it could create an acid reaction.
Choosing the Right Power Steering Fluid
Not all power steering fluids are created equal. It is important to know the different types and understand which one is right for your car. As already noted, some vehicles use automatic transmission fluid; the most common types are Dexron, Mercon, Type F, and ATF+4. But there are also different types of synthetic fluids that have been developed specifically for use in power steering systems in newer vehicles.
If you drive a European or Japanese car, chances are your power steering fluid needs are different than those required in American-made cars. Cars from Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Volvo have different power steering fluid requirements, and fluid types can vary from make and model to make. In many cases, they require Pentosin power steering fluid, but there are different types of Pentosin fluid. Make sure you’re using the one your car is designed to work with.
If your car is made by Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, or is from a Japanese manufacturer, check the specific requirements for your make and model. If your vehicle uses Pentosin steering wheel fluid, be sure not to mix it with other types of fluids.
There is no single rule that applies when it comes to power steering fluids for cars. Take the time to check your owner’s manual, do some research online, or check with your dealership’s service department to make sure the fluids you’re using are the right ones for your car.
Adding power steering fluid isn’t the only important maintenance task you need to perform on your car. Use this maintenance checklist to keep up with the various urgent checks and changes your vehicle needs to run at its best.
Learn more about Autozone Power Steering Fluid
Your vehicle’s power steering system helps you turn the steering wheel easily. And that helps make slow-speed maneuvers like parallel parking easier.
Many newer vehicles are equipped with electronic power steering (EPAS) and do not use steering fluid. But some older vehicles require power steering fluid to help this system work smoothly. Owners of these types of vehicles should check the fluid level every month.
If the power steering reservoir is low on fluid, you will need to add more to help keep the power steering system healthy. This is how you do it.
Obtain a quart of the correct power steering fluid for your vehicle. Consult your owner’s manual for more information.
Park your vehicle on a level surface and set the parking brake.
Roll up or remove loose clothing and keep arms away from cooling fans when checking power steering fluid. The fans can turn on automatically, even when the engine is off.
Start the engine and let it run until the temperature gauge reaches the normal operating range.
With the engine idling, turn the steering wheel all the way in, then turn it the other way to the opposite stop. Do this several times.
Turn off the engine and open the hood
Locate the power steering reservoir. It is usually on or near the engine and may have a white or yellow reservoir and a black cap.
Wipe the tank with a towel or rag to keep dirt out while you work on it.
Check the fluid level in the reservoir. Depending on the type of reservoir, you will either twist and remove a dipstick or you will see “MIN” and “MAX” lines on the outside of the reservoir.
If the dipstick or reservoir level is between “MIN” and “MAX”, you do not need to add fluid.
If the fluid is below the “MIN” line, remove the cap (or leave the dipstick out) and add power steering fluid in small amounts, checking the level after each time. Do not fill it above the “MAX” line.
Replace the cap or dipstick and make sure it is well sealed.
Power steering fluid is an often overlooked part for a smooth ride. Without the proper type of steering fluid (or power steering fluid), driving the vehicle can become very uncomfortable, dangerous, or even impossible. When your steering fluid becomes low, your vehicle will begin to display certain symptoms. We are here today to cover what to look for and how you can remedy the situation.
Smooth steering contributes to a better drive
Remember that letting your power steering fluid run out not only affects steering performance, but can also damage other important vehicle components. When you start to notice the following signs, it’s time to have the steering fluid replaced and/or added by a certified mechanic who can officially diagnose the situation and fix it for you.
Signs of Low Power Steering Fluid
When the power steering fluid level is low, the steering wheel will not feel quite right. It may show one or more of the following signs. Remember, he is trying to tell you something! listen to it.
- Difficult to turn the steering wheel: There can be more than one reason for this symptom, but most of the time it will be low on power steering fluid. If your wheel feels “hard” and difficult to turn, you may need power steering fluid.
- Noisy steering: The steering should not be noisy. The minute you notice that your steering wheel is making loud noises, it’s time to check the steering wheel fluid level in your vehicle. You will most likely need more power steering fluid.
- Shrill steering – once again, this is a sound no one wants to hear. If the steering wheel seems to be squeaking, then it’s time to have your power steering fluid levels checked by a mechanic. Remember that the noise does not always come from the steering wheel, but can also come from under the hood.
- Stains under the vehicle: This symptom can come from a variety of issues, but sometimes a stain under your vehicle means you have a problem with your power steering fluid. Other fluids in the car may be leaking, so you’ll need to see a certified mechanic to verify that the problem is the power steering fluid and not some other type of leak.
Do I need a power steering fluid change?
Every time you turn the steering wheel, you are steering your vehicle with the help of the power steering fluid and other system components. Like most vehicle parts, your steering system requires regular maintenance, including power steering flushes. Our local mechanics are here with a look at the 4 signs you need a power steering fluid flush.
1: Heavy steering wheel and other control difficulties
Every time you drive your vehicle, you maneuver several thousand pounds of machinery. So why is it so easy to control? The power steering motor pressurizes the power steering fluid to multiply the force it applies to the steering wheel. This process turns a heavy task into an effortless one.
Naturally, when your power steering system loses the pressure it depends on, it will start to take some of the weight. A rough, heavy, or hard-to-control steering wheel is a telltale sign of low power steering fluid, and the most dangerous symptom on this list. Visit your mechanic at the first signs of steering difficulties.
2: Noisy steering functions
Does your steering wheel make noises when you turn? If so, you may need a power steering fluid flush. In addition to providing the pressure you need to drive, this fluid also lubricates the moving parts of your steering system, including the valves, pistons, and hoses. This lubrication ensures that the steering components can move and work together smoothly. Without the proper steering fluid, these moving parts can begin to make abrasive contact, leading to squealing, whining, scraping, and scratching noises.
3: Failed Vehicle Safety Inspection
A proper vehicle address is needed to pass the annual automobile inspection and renew your registration. The inspection detects any problems that may cause safety risks on the road. While you’ll likely notice your steering problems sooner, you may find you need a power steering fluid flush once your car inspection fails. You can find our complete security inspection checklist here.
4: Power Steering Fluid Leak
If you see a red fluid leak on your garage floor or driveway, it’s probably your power steering fluid. Healthy power steering fluid is light red in color, though it turns amber when it needs to be flushed.
Naturally, the power steering fluid will need to be topped up if it is leaking. In this case, however, a mechanic will also have to find and repair the source of the leak.
Is it necessary to flush the power steering?
When you find out that you need to perform a power steering download, you may be wondering if you can skip this service. So is it really necessary to change the power steering fluid? The short answer is yes: routine power steering washes are essential to protect your vehicle and keep it safe on the road. Let’s take a closer look:
- Noticing the symptoms – If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, a power steering fluid flush is an absolute must and should be scheduled as soon as possible for the safety of you, your vehicle, and other drivers on the road.
- No Symptoms: What if you need to perform a routine power steering fluid flush but haven’t noticed any symptoms yet? This service is still necessary to prevent dangerous or inconvenient symptoms from arising. It can also help protect your power steering system. For example, your power steering pump may begin to degenerate without the proper fluid, turning a simple maintenance flush into an expensive repair. A visit to the mechanic is necessary, but not as urgent as it is for drivers who see symptoms. In these cases, schedule your service ASAP, or have a mechanic come to you!
How often do I need a power steering fluid flush?
On average, vehicles need a power steering fluid flush every 40,000-80,000 miles. In some cases, the manufacturer’s recommendations may be even higher or lower than this range. Your recommended washing routine depends largely on your vehicle type, as steering system and fluid needs may vary. You can check your owner’s manual for specific manufacturer recommendations.