How and When to Change Power Steering Fluid

An all-you-need-to-know guide on how and when to change power steering fluid. How and When to Change Power Steering Fluid

Your vehicle is an important part of your daily transportation needs, even if you take public transportation.  We need regular maintenance on your vehicle to keep the vehicle running properly.  Fluids in the vehicle are constantly keeping the vehicle running, whether it is the gas, oil, antifreeze, and even power steering fluid. Read on when and how to change power steering fluid.

Some people don’t even realize that power steering fluid can affect the way your car drives.  You probably didn’t even know it could go bad or need to be changed at some point.  In this blog, we will give you information on how to change power steering fluid.

What is Power Steering Fluid?

The power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that runs through the steering system and transmits the power.  The system itself will assist the driver in steering the vehicle by reducing the effort needed to turn the steering wheel.  Reducing the effort needed by the driver to turn the wheel is governed by the hydraulic or electric actuators that add the controlled energy to the steering mechanism.

When to Change Power Steering Fluid

No matter where you look, not one mechanic or manufacturer agrees on how often to change the power steering fluid.  Because of the fluid not being right in your site when you look under the hood, many people don’t change the fluid until a problem arises.  So here are a few things you can do:

Read the Manual

This, of course, is obvious, but some drivers do not always read through the entire manual until something goes wrong.  Most manuals will have recommendations when to change the fluids in your vehicle.  Remember that all vehicles are different, so the interval to change fluids will not necessarily be the same.  The same concept is true of the type of fluids the vehicle will need.  Some vehicles, depending on what type you have, will require a specific formula of fluid for the best performance.

Inspect the Fluid

When dealing with the fluids under the hood of your vehicle, there is one Power Steering Fluid Compartmentcommon rule that holds true; the darker the fluid, the closer you are to having to change it.  Open the reservoir under the hood of your car that the power steering fluid is in, if it is a dark color, then you should have it changed.

Sometimes, depending on the vehicle, you may not see the level directly, so you may want to use a dipstick to check your fluid. If you find any particles or debris in the fluid, then you should change it.  Smell the fluid as well, if it smells burned, then it should be changed.

If you find that the fluid is low or needs to be topped off, you should probably have a mechanic check to see if there are leaks in the lines.  The power steering system is sealed, so it should not lose fluid.

Listen for Sounds or Tugs

The power steering system has a pump that feeds the system to help you turn the wheel.  If you hear a noise as your turning the wheel, it is possible that when the pump is having a hard time, there could be debris in the fluid.

When you are turning the wheel, you might find the wheel tugging back at you.  If it is not tugging, it will get harder for you to turn the wheel.  When this happens, it usually means that you are running low on fluid, or it is getting older and needs to be changed.

Power Steering Fluid Line

Power Steering Fluid Change

There are two ways you can have the power steering changed:

Gradual Replacement

If you know how to work on cars or have a family member who does, you can do a gradual replacement of the power steering fluid over time.  Make sure you have the specific type of fluid that is recommended in your manual by the manufacturer.  Using a syringe, you will need to extract as much of the current power steering fluid as possible, then top off with fresh fluid.

Start the car, turn the steering wheel a couple of times and then recheck the fluid.  Top off once it settles, but don’t overfill.  If you do this for once a week for a couple of weeks, you can make the fluid better without doing an entire replacement.

Total Power Steering Flush

The power steering fluid can be completely drained and flushed at the mechanic shop.  This is not something that is easy and can cost some money.  The car has to be maintained at a level position. Therefore, the shop you take your car to will have to put the vehicle on the lift.  The mechanic will drain all the fluid out of the car, flush the system with a solvent, and then replace the fluid for you.

Maintenance Complete

Preventative care on your vehicle can save you a ton of money in the long run.  Before going anywhere in your vehicle, especially if you are going on a long trip, preventative maintenance on your vehicle is a must.

When under the hood, there are so many things that could go wrong, but taking care of those unseen or not well-known things, like power steering fluid, will save you a lot of headaches.  Make sure you add this change or flush to your preventative checklist in the future.


  1. Napa – When to Change Your Power Steering Fluid
  2. Angie’s List – Do I Really Need to Flush My Car’s Power Steering Fluid?
  3. It Still Runs – How Often Should You Replace Power Steering Fluid?
  4. Mechanic Base – How often should you replace the power steering fluid?
  5. Family Handyman – How to Change Power Steering Fluid