Vehicles will either have power steering or manual steering. However, most modern cars usually have power steering, which has been around for 50 years or so.
Power steering is the function that allows you to turn the steering wheel with ease to enhance the driver’s experience.
There are two types of power steering. These are hydraulic and electric power steering. Hydraulic power steering uses auto transmission fluid, which can also be used in transmission gear.
These systems use power from the engine through a belt that is attached to the pump that circulates power steering fluid throughout it.
Electric power steering systems are typically equipped with a small electric motor, and it doesn’t use the power of the engine.
Instead, the steering is powered by the vehicle’s computer, which is able to translate the action of steering to the electric motor. This type of steering increases fuel economy.
Also read: You should know the smell of power steering fluid used in your vehicle
What is Power Steering Fluid?
Power steering fluid is a type of fluid that is used to transfer power in modern vehicles that have power steering.
It is a very important part of the steering system as, without it, it wouldn’t function. The fluid allows the driver to turn the wheel with ease, and the replacement of this fluid is not usually a regular maintenance task.
It would typically be replaced by a mechanic, but you can do it yourself if you have the correct knowledge. Sometimes, the steering system will need to be flushed if necessary.
Also read: What can you do if you find that your power steering is working only while accelerating?
Types of Power Steering Fluid
Before choosing a steering fluid for your car, there are certain things that you will need to know first.
The type of fluid that you use will depend on the make and model of the car, and most newer models usually use synthetic power steering fluids, which flow better under low temperatures. You can also look at the option of using a replacement for power steering fluid.
Mineral Power Steering Fluid
Mineral power steering fluids are made using refined petroleum additives, which are designed to improve the performance of the oil.
A benefit of using this type of fluid is that it does not have any negative impact on any elements of rubber.
This fluid is typically lower in cost than other fluids, but it doesn’t tend to last as long and can form foam.
Semi-Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
Semi-synthetic power steering fluid is made of both synthetic and mineral parts and has a low level of viscosity, good lubricity, and is resistant to forming foam.
A negative of this type of fluid is that it can damage the rubber elements of the steering system over time.
Also read: What kind of power steering fluid do they use in a BMW?
Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
Synthetic power steering fluid is a great alternative if it is approved by the car manufacturers.
This fluid is made with a small number of refined petroleum fractions, polyesters, and polyhydric alcohols. It also has other additives that help to reduce the destructive impact on rubber parts, and it can typically run through low temperatures.
The steering system will be able to run smoothly, which means that it will last much longer. European car manufacturers usually recommend this type of steering fluid as it has low viscosity and can function under extreme temperatures.
Universal Power Steering Fluids
Universal power steering fluids are just as the name suggests; they are compatible with most power steering systems.
This type of fluid has differing additives that provide different benefits. It reduces the stiffness and friction of the steering, which makes the performance better and more responsive.
This fluid also features properties that prevent corrosion, seal small leaks, and reduce wear and tear of the steering. You should check the viscosity and compatibility before using it. This is because the properties of the new and old fluid should be the same.
What Color is Power Steering Fluid?
Power steering fluid can be either pink, red, or clear and can also change color over time.
Fluids are all different colors to help you know which fluid is leaking if there is a problem.
It is important to know what the different colors of the fluid can indicate so that you know if there is a problem with it.
This color of the fluid is completely normal, and if the fluid were to leak, you might notice this red color.
The typical color of the fluid is red or pink in order to distinguish between different fluids in the car. If the color changes, usually you have a problem.
Cloudy or Foaming Steering Fluid
This is probably the most common problem with vehicles when it comes to power steering fluid.
The reason that it changes to this color is that water or air has been trapped in the fluid, and this is a problem that will need to be solved.
The system will need to be flushed to avoid causing damage.
This can also be a common occurrence, and it usually means that the steering fluid has come into contact with coolant and has therefore changed color.
Brown and Black Fluid
If the color of your fluid changes to brown or black, then it is time to change it.
The system will need to be flushed straight away.
The black color means that the fluid has reached the end of its life and has started burning.
Also read: Since when has power steering been a standard feature in vehicles?
When Do I Need to Replace the Power Steering Fluid?
There is no set amount of time in which you should change your power steering fluid, but the color will help to notify you as to when it needs to be replaced.
When the color starts to change to brown, you need to change it as soon as you can. If the fluid turns black, it needs to be changed immediately.
Another indicator of when you should change your power steering fluid is when you can hear a moaning sound when you are steering.
Experts have stated that you should think about changing your power steering fluid every few years or at least every 100,000 miles.
You can follow the indicators that we have mentioned here if you are unsure.
Also read: Does your power steering become stiffer int he cold? Here is what to do.
A Few Final Words
The power steering fluid is usually a red, pink, or clear liquid. But if you find power steering fluid leakage as black or brown color, then it’s time to replace it as soon as possible.
There are different power steering fluids available in the market. But, you need to find the appropriate power steering fluid suitable for your vehicle.
Then use a jack to lift the front portion of your car and then open the hood. You will find a reservoir where the power steering fluid is generally stored. Open the cap off the reservoir, remove all the old liquid, and replace it with a new one.
Then remove the jack and get your car back to ground level. Allow the engine to run for a few seconds or go out for a short drive and then check the fluid level in the reservoir. If you are satisfied, then you have successfully replaced the power steering fluid.