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When and how to check power steering fluid Symptoms of low power steering fluid

When and how to check power steering fluid: Symptoms of low power steering fluid

Many cars other than hybrid and electric, are operated through a hydraulic power steering system that supports the driver to rotate the steering wheel without putting in the extra effort. A power steering system is comprised of more than one items such as, a front-wheel – that is linked to a pinion and a rack, a piston that is moved through a pressurized fluid (coming from the power steering pump) placed inside the rack and pinion helps the steering wheel, and a cylinder that contains power steering fluid to move smoothly.

If this fluid is not enough in the cylinder to support the power steering wheel, then the rack and pinion will get jammed and sometimes damaged. That is why it is important to check the required levels of power steering fluid and refill it when necessary.

How to add power steering fluid?

Step #1: Identify the reservoir cylinder

If you experience a high-pitched annoying sound or face difficulty in moving your steering wheel, then it’s probable that the power steering fluid is below its lower levels. To refill it, first, you need to identify where your power steering fluid is located.  You can find your power steering fluid in a plastic or metallic cylindrical reservoir around the power steering pump that must be labeled clearly.

Step #2: Check the fluid level

When you find the reservoir cylinder, you can easily see the level of power steering if it’s made up of translucent plastic. But if it’s made from an opaque material and you are unable to monitor the levels, then a dipstick will allow you to carry forward the process – it is usually attached with the cap of the cylinder. The ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ levels are mentioned on the dipstick most of the time. You have to move to the next step to see the levels of power steering fluid.

Step #3: Observe how much of the stick is covered with fluid

First, wipe off the extra fluid from the dipstick before you check the level of power steering fluid when you take out the stick from the reservoir cylinder. Once you take out the dipstick, clean it and reinsert it as far as it can go, and pull it out again and then move to step four.

Step # 4: Observe the color of the fluid as well

Good amber or pinkish hue is evident of a healthy power steering fluid.

If your power steering fluid has turned black or dark brown, then you need to change the contaminated fluid with the clearer one. If this happens again, then you may need to take your car to a mechanic to examine if any connected hoses, O-rings, seals, or any part of the power steering system want a replacement.

Step #5: Add power steering fluid to the accurate level:

If your cylinder reservoir is labeled with the gradation, then you can add the fluid till you reach the required levels observing the levels. If you are using the dipstick, to prevent the cylinder from overfilling, keep checking the levels of the fluid by dipping the stick continuously.

It is important to add the power steering fluid that is suitable and recommended for your vehicle because the viscosity of the fluid determines the smoothness of your power steering wheel. To minimize your expenses on repairs, do not overfill the fluid as it expands on heating and it’s better to expand and remain inside the cylinder.

Step #6: Cap the cylinder:

Before you shut the hood, make sure to cap your reservoir cylinder firmly. As per the make of your vehicle, you may have to screw or press the cap to put it in its place.

 Symptoms of low power steering fluid

The lower levels of power steering fluid can affect your vehicle in a lot of different ways. The following symptoms are connected to having lower levels of power steering fluids.

 Hard to move the steering wheel

The more your power steering fluid goes down, the harder your steering wheel gets. It will get harder with every passing time if the system fails to find the fluid continuously.

If the system fluid is lost, and it was not refilled, then your power steering system can be burnt out – and you should know that the repair or replacement of the system counts hard on your cash.

Noises on turning the steering wheel

If your power steering fluid reaches lower levels, then it enables air to enter through the system. The arrangement of more air and less fluid causes the wheezing sounds every time you opt to turn your steering wheel.

You also need to find out if there’s any leak in the reservoir (if you take care of the fluid levels regularly) that causes the frequent loss in power steering fluid. If so, you may have to change your reservoir cylinder.

Jerky Steering wheel

On turning or parking, do you feel that your steering wheel becomes hard to move and even becomes rough sometimes? You may find yourself driving slowly when this happens. If this is the case, then it’s probable that your vehicle is low on power steering fluid.


The simplest way to avoid any of the mentioned problems is regular maintenance of your vehicle. You must ensure that your power steering fluid is up to the desired levels and the reservoir cylinder is protected from leakage. Repair them right away if you encounter problems to avoid bigger ones that may arise in the future.

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