GM power steering fluid: What to Buy and Where to Find

GM Power Steering Fluid: It Power steering fluid is one of the most vital components of any operable steering system in a car, but most people don’t know how to find the right one for their vehicle. Different brands require different fluids, and GM is no exception.

We want your GM to drive like a dream whenever and wherever you want, without safety being a concern. CoPilot is here to help you find the best GM power steering fluids available!

Why You Need

Although very important to the operation of a vehicle, power steering fluid is often overlooked when shopping for auto parts. All cars need high-quality power steering fluid so that you can drive safely and comfortably. When you turn the steering wheel, the car’s tires are supposed to move according to your movements, and this fluid is what makes it happen.

However, not all power steering fluids are created equal. Different fluids will have different chemical compositions optimized for specific vehicles, so the same power steering fluid that works great for one car may not work for another. You should use one specified by your manufacturer or at least one that says it is compatible with your make of vehicle.

If you use the wrong type of power steering fluid, you could risk disrupting your car’s steering system and destroying the pump, costing you hundreds of dollars and posing a potential road hazard until the problem is fixed. . For this reason, it is better to choose the right GM power steering fluid.

What type of power steering fluid is best for your GM?

Several types of power steering fluid will work in your GM vehicle, but some are better than others. If you want to save money, you can go with one of the cheaper options on this list, but the best GM recommended fluids will always serve your vehicle better. With that being said, these are the best GM power steering fluids:

GM/AC Delco Power Steering Fluid. This is GM’s power steering fluid, which is almost always your safest bet for any make or model of car. The manufacturer explicitly recommends this one, and while that’s partly because they developed it, they made it that way for a reason. This fluid is excellent for noise reduction, constant lubrication, and prevents the steering system from corroding or foaming. AC Delco Power Steering Fluid also has an additive instilled in it that improves the performance of your car, making it the best GM power steering fluid. 

Royal Purple MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid. Royal Purple MAX EZ is the best aftermarket power steering fluid you can get for your GM car. While it’s not as tightly tuned to the specs that GM requires and is a bit expensive, it can be a great way to beef up your steering system’s protection against general wear and corrosion. You even have the option of using it on its own or adding it to the liquid you’re already using.

Prestone AS261 Power Steering Fluid. Another solid choice for GM power steering fluid is Prestone, an inexpensive product that is highly regarded due to its ability to extend the life of a power steering rack more than most competitors. Additional benefits are the renowned noise reduction in its power steering system.

We suggest getting GM/AC Delco power steering fluid as it is the most manufacturer-approved option, but the other two options on this list should be right for you. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for any fluid restrictions specific to your model, but as long as nothing alarming is listed there, you should be good to go with any of the above fluids!

Other Things to Know About GM Power Steering Fluid

It’s often said that you should replace your power steering fluid every 50,000 miles or every five years while driving your car, and this is true, but only if you don’t know which one. is the recommended manufacturer of your vehicle. This can often vary by make and model, so check your owner’s manual to see if you need to replace it sooner. Even without a suggested time frame, there are a few ways to tell if your power steering fluid needs to be replaced.

Since its main job is to keep the steering system running so the wheels can turn, an obvious sign of trouble is that you can’t move the steering wheel quickly. The sound your car makes when you drive can be another litmus test. Your vehicle shouldn’t make loud screeching or screeching noises when turning, so if it does, you should have it checked right away.


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Another symptom of a low or low fluid level is the steering wheel shaking violently. If any of these problems occur in your car, take a look at your power steering fluid reservoir. You’ll likely find that the fluid is low or has leaked, indicating an immediate need for replacement before you get back on the road.

We also recommend consulting your GM owner’s manual to find the proper specifications for the power steering fluid prescribed by your manufacturer. They should be able to tell you the exact power steering fluid requirements for your GM model, and while our recommendations will work just fine, it never hurts to consult your manual.

GM Power Steering Fluid FAQ

Do I need to change my power steering fluid when it is recommended?

Power steering is cheaper than expensive repairs caused by old power steering fluid. While not as urgent as mechanical repairs and oil changes, changing your power steering fluid is also essential. Therefore, it is always best to change your vehicle’s power steering fluid as recommended in the manual.

Can You Still Drive Without Power Steering Fluid?

A lack of power steering fluid will not physically prevent you from driving your vehicle. However, driving without a large amount of fluid will damage the pump. Without sufficient lubrication in the pump, friction and heat will increase, resulting in costly repairs. Also, the steering feel will be much heavier and more force will be required.

What are the common symptoms of low power steering fluid?

Here are some of the most common symptoms of low power steering fluid levels: Steering

  • noise – With less fluid and more air in the pump, you will hear noises generated by the pump.
  • Uneven power steering: If you feel nervous or shaky every time you drive, check your fluid levels as soon as possible.
  • Puddle Under Vehicle – Look for the reddish fluid under your car as it may have a power steering leak.

Common Automotive Fluids and Their Colors


Brake fluid ranges in color from amber brown to black depending on its age and condition. Brake fluid just put into the brake system is new and will be amber or light brown in color. As brake fluid ages, it turns from a dark brown to black in color. Some brake fluids are also yellow. All brake fluid is slippery and oily.


Engine coolant comes in all sorts of colors, so luckily, you can tell the color of your car’s coolant by opening the hood. Check the radiator overflow reservoir, that it is clean. Whatever the color of the fluid in the reservoir, it is the color of the engine coolant. Expect to see blue, green, red, or yellow.

Motor Oil

The reason we mentioned brake fluid being slippery and oily is that motor oil is more or less the same color as brake fluid. When new, the motor oil in your vehicle should be light brown in color. When it is old and dirty, it will be dark brown or black. The difference is that motor oil is not as slippery as brake fluid. Go figure!

Fluid Power

steering fluid is red, so it can be hard to tell if the fluid leaking from your car onto the garage floor is power steering fluid or coolant (if your coolant is also red). . One way to tell is to locate the power steering reservoir on your engine to see if fluid is leaking from under it or from the radiator.


Transmission fluid is also red, but luckily it leaks out of the transmission from the center of your vehicle instead of the front where the engine is located. The bright red transmission fluid is new. Brown to black transmission fluid is old and needs to be changed. Pink transmission fluid means that the coolant is mixing with the fluid and you have serious problems with the car.


We can look back through history at a long list of dynamic duos who made a good match, both in fiction and in real life. We remember famous names like Abbott and Costello, Oscar and Felix, or Bert and Ernie. Or maybe Batman and Robin, or Frodo and Sam, or Calvin and Hobbes. The list could go on for a long time with characters that just fit the bill.

But there are some characters, like Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose chemistry turned into a dangerous cocktail when they mixed. The same could be said (albeit to a much less dramatic degree) when you mix the fluids in your car.

In order for your vehicle to function properly, there are several fluids that help in cleaning, cooling, lubricating, and hydraulics. Each fluid is carefully developed for its purpose: engine cooling and lubrication, power transmission, braking and more. And each fluid is kept separate in its respective system.

From time to time, the fluids in your car need to be replaced or replenished as part of routine vehicle maintenance. For example, your engine oil might need to be “topped up” if you find that the level is a little low between oil changes. Or you may need to add some solvent to the windshield washer reservoir. In every case where you can add fluid, it is essential that you add the correct fluid. Installing anything else could cause damage and make the system ineffective or inoperable.


Motor oil is often referred to as the lifeblood of an engine. All the metal components inside, moving at thousands of revolutions per minute, would die a quick and painful death if it weren’t for the thin layer of lubrication that motor oil provides between them. For your engine to have proper lubrication, it is necessary to use the right oil.

Vehicle manufacturers design each engine to run on a specific type and viscosity, or grade, of oil. Viscosity (grade) is basically a measure of the thickness of the oil and is indicated by a code: 5W-30, 5W-20, 0W-20, etc. The higher the number, the thicker the oil; the lower the number, the thinner. The type of oil refers to whether it is a synthetic oil product made artificially in a laboratory or a conventional oil. Where one engine might require a viscosity of 5W-30, another might need 0W-20; one cannot be substituted for the other. And while some engines come from the factory with synthetic oil installed, others rely on regular old conventional oil.

So where is the concern when it comes to adding motor oil?

Well, first of all, no other lubricant will work for you in your engine; no cooking oil or other similar product will do. Feel free to switch between brands of oil (such as replacing the stock oil with Mobil 1), just make sure you use a quality motor oil.

And make sure it’s the same viscosity. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will tell you what grade is needed on your engine. If the oil you add is too high in viscosity, it won’t be able to get into the tight spaces between engine components. If, on the other hand, it is too low in viscosity, it will fail to form a consistent lubricating film and will invite metal-to-metal contact.

Many manufacturers are turning to synthetic motor oils as original equipment, especially for those engines that require the lower viscosities (ie 0W-20 or 0W-16). Synthetics offer several advantages in addition to potential low viscosity. They are able to last longer between each oil change, known as an extended oil change interval. Because they are artificially created in a laboratory, synthetic oils are more uniform and hold up better than their conventional counterparts. They also include advanced additives to clean and protect the interior of your engine.

If your engine came with synthetic oil, replace it with synthetic oil. Instead, if you have conventional oil, you are free to use either one. It’s perfectly fine to switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil (and vice versa) as long as the manufacturer doesn’t call for a synthetic one. And there is no danger in mixing the two; they are compatible. Just remember, if you add conventional oil to the synthetic, you reduce the effectiveness of the synthetic. So don’t do that if your engine requires synthetic oil.

Finally, if you are considering the use of aftermarket oil additives to improve the performance of your motor oil, you may want to think again. Some vehicle manufacturers advise against it, and in some cases, the use of oil additives may void your new car warranty. Also, modern motor oils have all the additives they need right from the bottle, especially if the product is synthetic.

Power Steering Fluid

Motor oil is important given the importance of your engine. But it is not the only liquid that is subject to incorrect refilling. Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that allows electrical assistance when you turn the steering wheel. Some vehicles have electric assistance that is based on an electric motor connected to the steering shaft, but most power steering systems are hydraulic and require power steering fluid.

If you’re refilling fluid, your owner’s manual (or reservoir cap) may suggest that you can substitute automatic transmission fluid (ATF) instead of power steering fluid. That’s because the two are very similar in composition. For decades car owners have been adding ATF to their power steering fluid reservoirs.

But that is not always the case. Some systems are based on a mineral oil based fluid that is not ATF compatible. If you make the replacement when that is the case, it could cause damage to the system, including deterioration of the seals and leaks.

Make sure ATF is recommended as a replacement for your power steering fluid before using it.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Although ATF and power steering fluid are similar and (in some cases) compatible for use in your power steering system, that is not the same as saying that they are completely interchangeable. They only have a composition and properties similar to a hydraulic fluid, not for all the other functions needed in your automatic transmission. There, the ATF must also function as a lubricant, coolant and cleaner. Power steering fluid doesn’t do those things and should never be used in your transmission.

As a side note, your ATF should never be overfilled. Overfilling your transmission can cause excessive pressure and air to be introduced into the fluid, causing the fluid to lose its lubricating ability and causing your transmission to overheat and fail. For this reason, manufacturers are increasingly moving toward transmissions that are not user serviceable.

Brake fluid

Of course, your engine is essential to keep your car moving. This is your transmission. And its power steering keeps you moving in the right direction. But none of that matters much if you can’t stop when you get there.

Your brakes are the most important safety feature on your vehicle. The brake system is made up of a hydraulic pump (the master cylinder) that applies force against the brake fluid in an array of tubes that lead to each wheel when you press the brake pedal. That brake fluid serves to transfer pressure from the pump to the brake pads which slows and stops the wheels and the car. Therefore, the brake fluid must be in good condition, clean and free of air and moisture.

Adding something other than fresh (not expired) brake fluid to the brake reservoir will decrease the effectiveness of your brake system. Some drivers mistakenly add ATF to the braking system as they would power steering. This is a definite no-no! ATF will wear down master cylinder seals and other system components, cause leaks, and destroy your brake system.

Engine Coolant

Also known as “antifreeze” for its ability to withstand low temperatures, engine coolant helps regulate the operating temperature of your engine. The combustion process produces a significant amount of heat, too much, in fact. Your engine has an optimum operating temperature where it works most efficiently, usually around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature rises above the mark, the coolant circulates through the engine block and takes the heat with it when it leaves, losing that heat to the environment through the radiator. When the engine cools down, the thermostat (a device that senses and regulates temperature) closes, preventing coolant from circulating.

The basic ingredients that make up engine coolant are ethylene or propylene glycol and water. It also includes additives to help prevent corrosion of engine components. The balance of coolant to water is around 50/50 and you should stay there.

Over time, some of the coolant in your engine will evaporate, so topping it off is necessary by adding coolant to the tank or overflow reservoir, or possibly to the radiator itself. When you do, be sure to use a pre-mixed product or mix a concentrate with the same amount of water. If you add only water, your engine could overheat and the water could freeze in the cold and destroy your engine. Too high a concentration of coolant can also cause overheating. (Note: Never add engine coolant to a hot engine!)

Washer Thinner

Most bottles of windshield washer thinner have the word “antifreeze” printed somewhere on the label. This is because the washer solvent must be able to withstand freezing in the winter. That’s not because it’s a suitable replacement for engine coolant. Don’t use washer solvent on your radiator like a certain automotive writer’s fifteen-year-old version did decades ago.

But don’t use plain water either. Washing machine solvent contains chemicals to remove contaminants and prevent streaks on the glass; not the water And the water will freeze when it gets cold. Also, avoid household products, as they can also cause scratches, but more importantly, they can damage your car’s paint and introduce noxious fumes into the passenger compartment.

How nice it would be if every association was benevolent. But we know that this is not always the case. And it would be so simple if all systems in a vehicle used the same type of fluid. That way there would be no cause for concern, nothing to confuse. But the world just doesn’t work that way, and neither does your car. Be sure to avoid creating a cocktail of incompatible chemicals when adding fluids to your car.

If you find this post about GM power steering fluid helpful to you and you want to know more about car fluid knowledge, please check more on our website Auto Oil And Fluid. Thank you for your interest!



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