Older cars didn’t have power steering, which made them much harder to steer. One of the most welcome advances in automotive (other than perhaps air conditioning) is power steering. However, with power steering, comes more maintenance. This is one that’s simple, but shouldn’t be neglected.
What Power Steering Fluid Does
Power steering fluid makes it easier to turn your car at low speeds. It’s the hydraulic fluid that gives the power to your power steering. Without it, you’d need a school bus sized steering wheel to turn your sedan’s wheels.
Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Power Steering Fluid
Although your power steering system is closed (meaning you shouldn’t be losing fluid unless you have a leak), it does break down and need replacing. Here are some of the most common signs it’s time to replace your power steering fluid.
- When it seems harder to turn your vehicle around corners
- Squealing while turning
- If your steering wheel seems to pull against your turn
- Pink or slightly tinted fluid under your car
How Often Should It Be Changed?
This is quite debatable and some owner’s manuals don’t even talk about power steering fluid. On average you want to check it annually and likely flush it about every two years but no more than 100,000 miles. The older your car and how well you’ve previously performed maintenance may also dictate how often it may need changing. Your mechanic can check yours and let you know their recommendation.
Why Your Mechanic Should Do This Maintenance
Although anyone can, in theory, change their fluid, few amateur mechanics can perform a total system flush. You want to have all the old fluid out of your car and that includes the fluid in the steering rack, pump and lines. If you don’t get that out, your new fluid will quickly become contaminated with the old. Plus, this is one of the least expensive preventative maintenance items you can perform over the life of your vehicle as it doesn’t have to happen often and it costs (on average) less than $200.
If you’re wondering about your car’s power steering fluid or have noticed any of the signs you need yours flushed and replaced, come by 3166 Tampa Road in Oldsmar or call (727) 784-3501 for an appointment.