How To Check Power Steering Fluid

If you can remember the days before cars came with power steering, you’ll know what a blessing it is for when you’re making tight manoeuvres. It’s a hydraulic system which multiplies force and avoids you having to turn the wheel rapidly over and over – a real lifesaver – but it requires power steering fluid.

filling power steering fluid

This month, we’ll talk you through all the key points when it comes to fluid for power steering, including how to check power steering fluid, how to top up power steering fluid and what type you need.


Where do I put the power steering fluid?

First things first, let’s locate the power steering fluid reservoir under your bonnet. As with most fluids you put in your car, this is the place to go. Simply pop open your bonnet, clip it up securely so it won’t fall back down and then look for the right cap to take off.

This cap is sometimes marked with the words ‘power steering fluid’ or it might be a steering wheel symbol. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to refer to your specific vehicle’s handbook. This will give you a diagram of what is under your bonnet and where  – if you have power steering – the fluid should be filled.


How to check power steering fluid

There are three things you’ll want to check regularly in relation to your power steering fluid, these include the level of the fluid in the reservoir, the clarity or colour and then finally check that there are no leaks from this area.

  • Checking power steering fluid levels – Most reservoirs for this fluid will come with either level-indicating markings on the side where you can see how full the reservoir is, or, with a dipstick under the cap of the reservoir. Using the dipstick is simple, much like with oil:

1) Remove the dipstick from the container

2) Wipe the dipstick down and look at where the max and min level markings are

3) Replace the dipstick in the fluid, then remove it to see where the fluid goes up to

4) If the fluid is near or below the minimum level, refill to the maximum level

5) If the fluid is already at a good level, simply replace the cap and check again in a few months

  • Checking the colour or clarity of power steering fluid – As with any important fluid in your vehicle, you want to avoid contamination. Dirty fluid will result in poor performance and could prevent the power steering from working altogether. A common occurrence is the oxidation of the fluid, which can see it darken and lose its effectiveness. Regardless of the reason for the contamination, once you notice this you should be prepared to replace the fluid.

What colour is power steering fluid normally? This is dependent on the recommended steering fluid for your particular make and model of the vehicle but power steering fluid is usually some shade of red.

  • Checking for power steering fluid leaks – The last thing you want is to fill up your power steering fluid and have it leak away while parked or driving. You will usually know if this is happening as you’ll see fluid marks where you’ve parked once you move your car. An easy way to find out which fluid is leaking is to leave a scrap of white sheeting underneath your car to see what colour the fluid leaking is. If it’s red, that’s a sign that it’s your power steering and you should seek professional assistance as soon as possible.


How to top-up power steering fluid

When you notice you’re low, or if you’re replacing your power steering fluid, it’s easy to fill up. Simply remove the cap and pour new fluid in. Check you’re getting the right fluid type by consulting your manual or manufacturer recommendations. If you’re not a steady pourer, to avoid making a mess inside your bonnet you can place a funnel into the reservoir opening and pour using this for a cleaner process. Once you’re done, wipe any residue or grime from the opening and replace the cap.


What type of power steering fluid do I need?

There are plenty of different types of power steering fluids out there, and it can be confusing when trying to pick the right one. We always recommend you read your manual or seek guidance from the manufacturer if you’re unsure as this will depend on things such as the type of vehicle and the age of the model. You may even find you’re advised to get an ATF (automatic transmission fluid). Ultimately, check your handbook to get a better idea of what you should be putting in your car.


Has your power steering become less effective or stopped altogether? Or do you have a leak from your reservoir which needs repair? Whatever your power steering issues may be, don’t delay. The friendly team here at Auto Exhausts & Tyres are on hand to help. We have years of experience dealing with all manner of steering issues – simply contact us today to book your vehicle into our Lincoln garage at a time to suit you!