How to Flush Your Power Steering Fluid
Just like your oil and radiator fluid, your power steering fluid needs to be flushed on a regular basis. You don’t have to do this as often as an oil change, but if you forget it, it can cause deterioration in your steering system. Many oil change stations and mechanics will do this for you. However, if you want to save money and are even a little handy with a car, you can easily flush your power steering fluid yourself.
Prepare the Area
Just like an oil change, flushing your power steering fluid can create a serious mess. To prepare, lay down newspaper or a few old towels underneath the car. You should also get something to catch the fluid in and make sure you have plenty of rags on hand. Finally, you will need your ratchet set and possibly a pair of pliers to properly disconnect the tray and the hose.
Raise the Front of the Car
Once you have gathered everything you need, raise the front end of your car. You can either drive it onto a pair of wedges to lift the tires or use a jack. However you choose to do it, make sure that the car itself is stable, as you are going to be crawling around underneath it.
Locate and Remove the Catch Tray
The next step is to find the power steering fluid catch tray. This should be under the rest of the power steering system, fairly close to the oil catch tray. Depending on the make of your car, you will need to use your ratchet set or a screwdriver to remove this tray. Make sure you have a rag close by; if there is any kind of leak in your power steering system, the fluid will fall out.
Drain the Fluid
Now you need to drain the power steering fluid that is currently in your car.
* a) Place a bowl or other container underneath the hose, around where you think the fluid will come out.
* b) Using your pliers if necessary, disconnect the lower hose. Be prepared for the fluid to immediately start draining.
* c) Hold the hose directly underneath the container until it runs dry.
Re-Seal the Hose
Once the fluid system has been completely drained, you need to re-seal everything so that you can add more fluid. Reconnect the hose, and tighten it with the pliers to make sure that it is sealed. You don’t need to screw the tray back on just yet, as you will be flushing the fluid one more time.
Add New Fluid
Open up your hood, and locate the power steering fluid container. If you aren’t sure where this is, reference the owner’s manual for your car. Unscrew the cap, and add the required amount of power steering fluid for your vehicle, then screw the cap back on tightly.
Rotate the Fluid
Now you need to turn your car on for a few minutes. This will force the fluid through the power steering system.
* a) Start the engine, and start rotating the steering wheel, but don’t hit the gas pedal.
* b) Listen for a buzzing noise; this is the sound of air trapped in the system. You want to keep rotating until this buzzing stops.
Allow the Car to Rest
Before you flush the system again, give the engine between five and 10 minutes to rest and let the fluid settle. During this time, you should get another container to put the next round of fluid in, and consider cleaning the area slightly.
Repeat the Flush
Once the engine has cooled, it’s time to do another flush of the system. You should follow the same steps as before, being careful not to spill too much of the fluid.
* a) Disconnect the hose, and allow the fluid to drain in to the container.
* b) Reconnect the hose, and refill the fluid.
* c) Run the car for 10 minutes, turning the steering wheel the entire time to force the fluid through the system.
Test the Car
Finally, you need to make sure that your car is working and steering correctly.
* a) Screw the fluid catch tray back onto your car, and pick up any tools that are left on the ground.
* b) Carefully lower your front tires.
* c) Start by testing the steering with the wheels on the ground, but without moving forward.
* d) If the wheels appear to be moving fine, take your car for a test drive around the block to make sure everything is working correctly.
Power steering fluid doesn’t need to be flushed more than once a year or so, if that. The system is fairly contained, and unless it springs a leak, the level and purity of the fluid shouldn’t change. Make sure you use the amount of fluid recommended in the owner’s manual, and be careful not to flush the wrong hose. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to feel the pride of successfully maintaining your own vehicle without the help of a mechanic.