How To Check Power Steering Fluid in a Vehicle

For vehicles with power steering capabilities, power steering fluid is one of the so-called essential fluids that need to be checked regularly.  This fluid is responsible for the proper and smooth functioning of the whole steering system, including its pump, and also prevents early damage or unnecessary breakdown.  This article explains the process for checking power steering fluid in a vehicle.

Park your car somewhere safe.  Make sure that your parking ground is level so that you will get an accurate reading when you check the fluid level.  The vehicle should also be at normal operating temperature.

Open the hood of your car and look for the power steering fluid reservoir.  In most vehicles, this reservoir is usually located directly on top of the engine.  In most cases, it has a cap with a label for easy identification.  Wipe the cap with a clean rag to make sure that no dust or other debris falls into the reservoir when you uncover it.  Unscrew the cap and pull out the dipstick, which is usually attached to the underside of the reservoir cap.  With a clean rag or tissue paper, wipe off the dipstick once.  Dip the stick into the fluid once and let it sit in the fluid for a few seconds.  Take it out again.  The dipstick is marked with indicators.  Check the fluid level against the indicator markings.  In most cases, the dipstick markings include indicators for full and low levels, as well as for hot and cold.  Some dipsticks will have an “Add” mark.  If the fluid doesn’t cover this mark, your vehicle needs more fluid.

Some vehicles have an easier system for checking the power steering fluid levels.  Instead of a dipstick, they usually have fill lines printed or carved on the side of the plastic reservoir.  In such cases, all you need to do is to get a reading off the side of the reservoir without having to remove the cap.  Try to read the indicator at eye level.

After checking the level, check the condition of the fluid.  The color of the fluid usually reveals much about the condition of the fluid.  It usually has a reddish color.  Check for floating or suspended debris.  Even the tiniest speck of debris can clog up your steering system.  Check also the odor of the fluid.  The smell of electrical fire will tell you that it’s time to change your power steering fluid.

If the condition of the fluid is okay, you won’t need to do anything further besides refilling your power steering fluid.  Fill the reservoir up to its maximum line on the indicator.  Make sure you screw the cap back on after refilling the fluid.  Also make sure that you use the recommended type of fluid for your particular vehicle.  If the fluid is fouled up, you will need to replace the fluid immediately.  You can either do it yourself or have it replaced by an automotive professional.

Checking your vehicles power steering fluid is very easy and can be done in just five minutes.  You ought to check your fluids regularly to keep your vehicle running smoothly and to prevent unnecessary and costly repairs to your vehicle.


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