How to check and add power steering fluid

5 minute read Published on Apr 1, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Power steering fluid reservoir of the hydraulic steering wheel in the car

Wondering how to check and add power steering fluid to your car? You’ve come to the right place. Here at BrokerLink, we know the ins and outs of cars and car insurance. Keep reading to learn more about the important role of power steering fluid and how the right auto insurance coverage can protect you.

Checking your power steering fluid levels: an overview

If you want to check your power steering fluid levels, here is a brief overview of how to do so:

  • Prepare the power steering fluid by turning on your car engine and allowing it to heat up
  • Identify the power steering fluid reservoir in your car
  • Inspect the power steer fluid level with a dipstick that is attached to a reservoir cap
  • Evaluate the colour of the power steering fluid to check if it is contaminated

Make sure to check your fluid levels regularly as driving with low levels can be dangerous. If you aren’t able to check them yourself, take your car to a mechanic as part of your summer or winter car maintenance routine where a mechanic can check them for you.

A step by step guide to checking your power steering system

For a more in-depth look into how to check your power steering system, keep reading:

1. Heat the power steering fluid

The first step to checking your power steering fluid is to heat it up. Automobile owners can do this by turning on their car engine and letting their car idle for roughly three or four minutes. After a few minutes have passed, your engine will have likely reached its ideal operating temperature of between 180°F and 250°F. Finally, turn your steering wheel in either direction until the steering rack locks. This way, the hydraulic fluid will start to circulate.

2. Find the power steering fluid reservoir

Step number two is to find the power steering fluid reservoir. To get started, turn off the engine since the fluid should be sufficiently warmed by this time. Next, pop the hood of the car. The power steering fluid reservoir should be located underneath the hood of the car. It is usually located in a clear plastic or metal container in the engine bay. These containers often have black or yellow reservoir caps. If you are having trouble locating the power steering fluid reservoir in your car, consult the owner’s manual. It should be clearly labelled in the manual.

3. Use the dipstick to check the power steering fluid levels and top up as needed

The third step to checking your power steering fluid levels is to remove the cap from the reservoir container and pull out the dipstick. Wipe off any excess liquid and then re-insert the dipstick into the reservoir. Once it’s sufficiently re-inserted, pull it out, and closely examine how much of the dipstick is covered in power steering fluid. Compare the length of the dipstick that was covered in fluid to the indicator lines on the reservoir container. This is the best way to see if you have enough fluid in the reservoir. Please note that if your car has a plastic power steering fluid reservoir rather than a metal one, you might be able to see the fluid levels without inserting the dipstick. If you believe that your fluid levels are too low, top it up by pouring some power steering fluid into the reservoir. You can always re-insert the dipstick one last time to make sure that it is sufficiently covered before putting the cap back on.

4. Examine the power steering fluid for signs of trouble

Before calling it a day, take a moment to closely examine the power steering fluid in the reservoir. Specifically, you want to pay attention to the colour of the fluid as discolouration could indicate a serious problem. Ideally, the power steering fluid should appear clear, amber, or pink. However, if it has been contaminated, it most often appears brown or black. This is usually because rubber bits from a nearby hose, seal, or power steering pump that is damaged have managed to make their way into the fluid. If the fluid is dark in colour, contact a professional mechanic right away.

Telltale signs of low power steering fluid levels

There are a few reasons that you might suspect low power steering fluid levels without popping the hood on your car. We outline a list of telltale signs that your power steering fluid levels are low. If you notice any of the following signs, be sure to check under the hood as soon as you can:

Strange noises coming from the steering wheel

If you’ve started to notice a strange noise coming from the steering wheel, such as a whining noise, this could be a sign of low fluid levels. A whining noise is the result of air bubbles in the connecting hose or not enough lubrication within the power steering system.

Harder to turn the steering wheel

If steering has recently become more difficult, this could be another sign of low power steering fluid levels. When the reservoir is low on fluid, it can make it more difficult to turn your steering wheel. You may notice it especially when driving at lower speeds or when your vehicle is idling or parked.

Fluid is leaking underneath your car

One last sign of low power steering fluid levels is if you notice fluid leaking from your car. This most often occurs underneath your car and will appear as a small puddle or dribble, most often noticed when you pull out of the driveway. A leak is a quick way to lower your fluid levels so if you notice one, get your vehicle checked out right away.

How often to top up the fluid in your power steering pump

As a car owner, you will need to top up the power steering fluid in your car from time to time. Experts generally recommend topping up fluid levels every year or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. That said, to be on the safe side, we recommend consulting the owner’s manual for your car as your auto manufacturer should have a clear recommendation as to the frequency with which you should top up the power steering fluid in your car. Generally, if you take your car to a mechanic for yearly maintenance, the mechanic will check and top up all fluids as needed, and that includes power steering fluid.

Contact BrokerLink today

Vehicle maintenance is of the utmost importance, especially if you want to keep your car in tip-top shape. An important component of car maintenance is stopping up all fluid levels. Power steering fluid is incredibly important when it comes to vehicle operation and handling. Plus, the better your car handles, the more control you will have, and the less likely you will be to get into an accident. That translates to fewer Toronto car insurance claims, which can help you keep rates low.

That said, if you do find yourself in an accident, your car insurance coverage might be able to help you. For example, if the accident causes damage to your car or your power steering system specifically, you might be able to file a claim and receive a payout to help cover the cost of repairs. A few types of auto insurance that could come in handy include:

To find out how much car insurance costs where you live, contact BrokerLink for a free insurance quote. An insurance broker will ask you questions about your driving habits and insurance needs and from there, they can give you a complimentary estimate to help you find out how much car insurance costs per month in Ontario.

In addition, a licensed insurance advisor at BrokerLink can also help you with other car-related inquiries. For example, we can offer you tips for driving on icy roads, outline the steps to take if you’re trapped in a vehicle in the snow, and explain how snow tires protect winter drivers. Reach out to BrokerLink today and you won’t be disappointed.

Get an auto insurance quote [phone]