Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

How to bleed power steering

Bleed power steering to remove air

Any time you replace a power steering component you’ll get air in the system. If you don’t bleed the power steering, it’ll make a power steering whine noise. Here’s the most up to date way to bleed power steering.

Don’t turn the steering lock to lock

The old method for bleeding power steering was to start the engine and turn the steering wheel full left and then full right, called lock to lock. Try that in a late model vehicle and you may wind up with power steering fluid all over your garage floor. Power steering pumps can output over 2,000-psi when the wheel is turned full travel or lock to lock. Since the lock to lock method doesn’t work with late model vehicles, DIYers often repeat the lock to lock procedure several times. The pump creates enough force to blow out the seals on the power steering rack and pinion, damage a hose, or blow out the front seal on the power steering pump. When you’re all done damaging the components, you’ll still have air in the system.

Bleed power steering with vacuum

Just about every car maker not recommends using a vacuum pump to pull a vacuum on the entire power steering system. That forces air bubbles to rise to the reservoir no matter where they are in the system. This procedure is just like the latest recommended procedures for bleeding a cooling system. Don’t want to buy a vacuum pump? Then take your vehicle to the shop and pay them to bleed the power steering for you, because there’s simply no way around this. Or, become an automotive engineer and design the system differently when you grow up.

Here’s what you need to bleed power steering

First, you need a vacuum pump.

bleed power steering, bleed brakes, bleed air out of cooling system

Mityvac vacuum pump with all the attachments you’ll ever need to bleed power steering, brakes, and you cooling system.

Next you’ll need a reservoir cover. Some companies make exact fit covers, but the universal covers in the vacuum kits usually work just fine.

With the engine off, place the cover over the reservoir and pump the vacuum handle until you see about 10” vacuum on the gauge. Keep the vacuum in place for about 30-seconds. Then remove the cover and examine the fluid. You’ll probably see foamy bubbles. Wait for the bubbles to recede and then pull a second vacuum. Then start the car and turn the wheel left and right, but not lock to lock. If the whining and juddering is gone, call it a day. If not, repeat the procedure.

Use the vacuum tool to bleed the cooling system and bleed brakes

You can use the same tool to bleed your cooling system and bleed your brakes.

 

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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