How to flush power steering fluid yourself
Why you should flush power steering fluid
If you check your maintenance guide, you probably won’t find a recommendation to flush power steering fluid. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Power steering fluids, like most other automotive fluids have a base components along with additives. Since power steering fluid is subjected to high pressures up to 2,000-psi, they contain additives to reduce foaming. They also contain anti-corrosion additives to prevent galvanic action between the different metals used throughout the power steering pump and steering gear.
Over time and with high heat, those additives break down, causing expensive wear to the pump and steering gear. So it’s a good idea to flush power steering fluid at least once every 100K miles.
Power steering fluid flush cost
Shops routinely recommend that you flush power steering fluid because it’s a great money maker for them. The going rate is around $100 to $150 and the shop’s cost is less than $10 for fluid. But you can do the entire job yourself.
What you need to flush power steering fluid yourself
First, you’ll need about two quarts of new power steering fluid. Click on the PDF listed here and find the correct fluid for your car. Not all power steering fluids are the same and using the wrong fluid can cause costly damage. Avoid “universal” power steering fluids unless they specifically note that they meet the specifications listed in your owner’s manual.
Next, you’ll need a turkey baster that you’re willing to toss when you’re done. You’ll be removing the return line to the power steering pump and most are held in place with a spring hose clamp. But some return lines connect using a hex fitting. In that case you’ll need an open end wrench.
You’ll also need to plug the return port to the power steering pump. Find these plugs at your local hardware store.
Finally, you’ll need an old container to catch and cap the old fluid. You’ll take that to recycling when you’re done.
Remove all fluid from the power steering reservoir
Disconnect the return line from the power steering gear
If the return hose has a spring clamp, simply compress the ears with a pliers and move it back. The twist the hos off the pump fitting. Plug the fitting with either a cap or plug. If your return line has a hex fitting, remove it with an open end wrench.
Route the return line into your catch bottle.
Remove the fuse or relay to cut power to your fuel pump
You’ll be cranking the engine to pump fresh fluid into the steering gear to force out the old fluid. DON’T run your engine to do this—a running engine can suck the reservoir dry quickly and that can damage your pump.
Fill the reservoir with fresh power steering fluid
Since you’ll be using up almost all the fluid, you can fill the reservoir to the brim. Then crank the engine. Refill the reservoir and repeat until the fluid coming out of the return hose looks clean. Then turn the steering wheel fully to one side and repeat the flush procedure. When the fluid looks clean, turn the wheel to the opposite side.
Reattach the return hose to the pump
Then fill the reservoir to the proper level. Reinstall the fuse or fuel pump relay and start the engine. The power steering pump may whine and accumulate bubbles. That’s normal. SLOWLY turn the steering wheel to one side but don’t hold it at full left or right. Then turn to the opposite side. That will bleed air out of the system.
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat