Christensen Automotive | Gardnerville 775.782.2605 , Carson City 775.882.8888, Reno 775.322.8100, South Lake Tahoe 530.544.9940, Fallon 775-423-5455

SUPER-HUMAN? NO, THAT’S THE WONDER OF POWER-STEERING

Pint-for-pint, the one or two quarts of power steering fluid required by your car is probably some of the least appreciated fluids under the hood. Considering what it does, and how much a motorist depends on it, we’re talking about the lifeblood of your steering system. Yet keeping it clean and doing its job doesn’t require all that much effort. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car’s old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid.

Mike Bumbeck of Automedia.com explains that the power steering system brings together the strength and power of hydraulic pressure with the mechanical miracle of steering linkages. The power steering pump pressurizes the power steering hydraulic system. The power steering fluid runs through hoses and by way of valves, and plungers or pistons move the mechanics of the steering back and forth as you turn the wheel. Regardless of the vehicles set-up, the power steering system will fail if the pump cannot generate the pressure required to push the steering parts of the suspension back and forth.

The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack. The function of power-steering fluid is basic: it transmits hydraulic pressure to make steering easy while protecting and lubricating parts at the same time. These demands take their toll on the fluid and break it down, which can lead to inconsistent performance and expensive component failure. You should change the fluid as outlined in your owner’s manual but otherwise a good rule of thumb recommended by The Car Care Council is every 2 years or 24,000 miles. The fluid should be checked at every routine service interval, most likely, the fluid will appear normal at this point—either amber (on most vehicles) or pink/red in color.  However, if at any time before the interval recommended, it appears significantly darker than new fluid, cloudy, or smells burnt or toasted it should be changed. If the fluid is low and consistently needs to be topped off, check the hoses, fittings, clamps, and the like for leaks. A large square of cardboard placed under the vehicle overnight can help locate leak sources.

Caution: Pouring in the wrong power-steering fluid or overfilling the system can cause expensive damage to the power-steering system. Use only the fluid recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Indications that you may have an issue with your power-steering include:

  • It has become difficult or harder to turn.
  • There is a growling or groaning noise when turning.
  • While a small amount of noise at the very end of the steering travel is normal, continual complaining is not. It could merely be a sign of low power steering fluid level or that the power-steering pump is failing.  Cracked or frayed power-steering belt.

Pint-for-pint, the one or two quarts of power steering fluid required by your car is probably some of the least appreciated fluids under the hood. Considering what it does, and how much a motorist depends on it, we’re talking about the lifeblood of your steering system. Yet keeping it clean and doing its job doesn’t require all that much effort. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car’s old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid.

Mike Bumbeck of Automedia.com explains that the power steering system brings together the strength and power of hydraulic pressure with the mechanical miracle of steering linkages. The power steering pump pressurizes the power steering hydraulic system. The power steering fluid runs through hoses and by way of valves, and plungers or pistons move the mechanics of the steering back and forth as you turn the wheel. Regardless of the vehicles set-up, the power steering system will fail if the pump cannot generate the pressure required to push the steering parts of the suspension back and forth.

The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack. The function of power-steering fluid is basic: it transmits hydraulic pressure to make steering easy while protecting and lubricating parts at the same time. These demands take their toll on the fluid and break it down, which can lead to inconsistent performance and expensive component failure. You should change the fluid as outlined in your owner’s manual but otherwise a good rule of thumb recommended by The Car Care Council is every 2 years or 24,000 miles. The fluid should be checked at every routine service interval, most likely, the fluid will appear normal at this point—either amber (on most vehicles) or pink/red in color.  However, if at any time before the interval recommended, it appears significantly darker than new fluid, cloudy, or smells burnt or toasted it should be changed. If the fluid is low and consistently needs to be topped off, check the hoses, fittings, clamps, and the like for leaks. A large square of cardboard placed under the vehicle overnight can help locate leak sources.

Caution: Pouring in the wrong power-steering fluid or overfilling the system can cause expensive damage to the power-steering system. Use only the fluid recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Indications that you may have an issue with your power-steering include:

  • It has become difficult or harder to turn.
  • There is a growling or groaning noise when turning.
  • While a small amount of noise at the very end of the steering travel is normal, continual complaining is not. It could merely be a sign of low power steering fluid level or that the power-steering pump is failing.  Cracked or frayed power-steering belt.

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