Power steering fluid is a specially formulated oil that is used in many power steering systems. The best power steering fluid lubricates and transmits pressure required for power-assisted steering. This allows any given vehicle to steer easily as more power is provided behind your steering.
The level of the fluid ought to be checked at every oil change and regularly to ensure there is the required pressure in the pump for supporting rack and pinion. It needs to be compatible with the seals and hoses. In some cases, the recommended fluid is automatic transmission fluid.
Without the assistance of the fluid, the wheels will encounter significant resistance from the ground underneath requiring extra effort from you. The fluid is easy to service and may be done by flushing the old fluid out and then adding a fresh batch.
In this review, the best types of power steering fluids are discussed. Crucial factors you should consider when buying such as the type of steering system, car model and so on are discussed in detail to enable you to select the right one.
To help out people, Here is a quick list:
- GENUINE MERCEDES Q1460001 Power Steering Fluid
- Honda 08206-9002PE Power Steering Fluid
- Genuine Ford XT-5-5QM MERCON-V Power Steering Fluid
- Nissan Genuine Fluid 999MP-EPSF00P Electric Power Steering Fluid
- Pentosin Hydraulic Fluid CHF11S 1L 1405116
- Red Line 30404 Power Steering Fluid
- Royal Purple ROY01326 MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid
- Throttle Muscle TM7587 – Steer+ Plus Universal Power Steering Fluid
- ACDelco 10-4017 Auto-Trak II Transfer Case Fluid
- Pentosin CHF202 Power Steering Fluid
- Prestone AS261 Power Steering Fluid
- Lucas Oil 10823 Power Steering Fluid
What is Power Steering Fluid Made Of?
Most of the fluids available in the market may be composed of mineral oils, glycol-ether or silicone. Different additives are included to help reduce friction, wear and corrosion and suppress foaming.
How Does The Power Steering Fluid Work?
As a pump is attached to the auto mobile’s engine and operated by a belt, it circulates the fluid within the entire system applying a force multiplier to the wheels. As soon as the steering wheel is activated, the valves spring into operation, controlling liquid flow through the cylinder. As a result, force is applied to the vehicle’s wheels.
Frequently, a detection device commonly known as torsion bar is fixed at the bottom of the steering column, which will then twist respectively to the torque being applied. This bar then controls the valve, which enables the fluid to enter into the cylinder.
Types of Power Steering Fluid
The best power steering fluid varies depending on the type of material the system is made from and vehicle application. Some use Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF), but the newer vehicle models use synthetic-based hydraulic fluid specially formulated for use in power steering.
The synthetic fluids flow well at low temperatures, improving pump lubrication and longevity. Even though a universal fluid may be satisfactory for a number of applications, some cars require special additives meant for corrosion protection and seal and pump lubricity.
Most of the European and Japanese car models have specific requirements for power steering oil. Such applications need a high-performance synthetic-based power steering oil.
What Color is Power Steering Fluid?
The color of the best power steering oil vary from clear to yellowish to pink. Any other color indicates that the oil is contaminated. This should be addressed quickly to prevent the entire system from being contaminated.
What Does It Mean When The Power Steering Fluid Is Black?
The dark colored fluid can slowly clog the steering pump hoses, damaging the bearings in the system. This color should not be a death sentence for your car, but it should be handled promptly.
The common reasons for this to happen include:
- Contamination with aluminum
As the oil does its intended job, it comes into contact with the rack and pinion that is made of high amounts of aluminum. Over time, it can shed into the fine powdered state that contaminates the fluid.
- Water in the system
Water leads to the oxidization of the power steering oil, which in turn diminishes the ability of the fluid and the system as a whole. With the many components of an automobile, the power steering oil’s reservoir may sometimes trap unwanted water. It then mixes with the fluid, causing oxidation.
- Fluid degradation
The fluid is subject to loads of pressure since it relies on pressure to do its job. The pressure causes the increase in temperature, especially during long drives. As the fluid’s temperature increases, it breaks down as chemicals separate from each other. This is referred to as electrochemical degradation which is the cause for discoloration.
What Does It Mean When The Power Steering Fluid Is Red?
A change in color from clear to red means that it is beginning to oxidize. If this is the case, you will notice it going from red to gray and eventually black. This means it is time to change it with fresh fluid.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Power Steering Fluid
Finding the best power steering fluid for your vehicle can be confusing. You may try to guess based on the smell or color of the fluid in the power steering oil reservoir. However, it is important to get the right one from the many available types in the market.
The many available vehicle manufacturers use specialized fluids. They are designed to work in specific systems to give the best results. The wrong oil results to compatibility issues, which in turn may lead to power steering pump failure.
Before checking on the type of oil your car requires, I recommend you ensure your vehicle has a hydraulic power steering system. Vehicles manufactured in the 80s, 90s or early 2000 have the system.
Late models come with manual power steering system due to smaller wheels installed on older cars. The following are some of the considerations when it comes to purchasing the best power steering oil.
Check Manufacturer’s Guide
This is the first and easiest step you should take when it comes to choosing the best power steering oil. Many of the top manufacturers indicate the type of oil to be used on the filler cap. If the type is not specified on it, you may be able to find it in the vehicle’s manual. Some power steering systems are designed to use power steering fluid while others require atf.
Synthetic vs. Mineral oil
Synthetic and mineral power steering oils are available in the market. If you reside in a colder location, consider a synthetic fluid that does not need much heat for achieving normal operating temperature.
Check Description of the Oil
Brake fluid differs from power steering oil, so do not get confused between the two. Both have a unique chemical composition for their respective needs. As brake fluid serves to transfer force, using one in the place of another may lead to serious damages to your vehicle.
The Top 12 Power Steering Fluids Of Today
Since there a plethora of Power Steering Fluids on the market, it can confuse drivers in picking one that’s best for them.
Let’s get to know each of them in detail now:
This is the best Mercedes power steering fluid for the money. It features the specially blended formula that is suitable for Mercedes Benz power steering systems. It is recommended for top off or complete fluid refill.
The Genuine Mercedes provides smooth as well as quiet steering system operation; controls wear, oxidation, and foaming; and it also keeps your Mercedes steering system clean. Generally, it helps improve your Mercedes’ performance and longevity.
The bottle is not equipped with a handle. So, you would have to be cautious to be cautious when handling it or it may slip off your hand.
The Honda Power Steering Fluid comes in 3 packs of 354 milliliters (13Oz) of oil in each container totaling to one liter. This is more than enough if you do not have any leak problems. 3 bottles are enough to flush the entire system.
Splitting the fluid into three packs dramatically reduces weight and enables you to easily carry when refilling. This is the perfect oil for your steering wheel if you have a small vehicle from Honda. Having one in the boot is enough for emergencies.
This Honda accord power steering fluid is available in lightweight bottles. It is also more than enough for your small Honda vehicle.
The bottle is easy to slip off your hands if not properly held as it does not have a grip handle. It is also not suitable for the extremely cold weather.
The Genuine Ford XT-5-5QM MERCON-V oil is manufactured with high viscosity index, hydro-processed base oil, and specially designed performance additives. This offers good low temperature fluidity and excellent shifting characteristics at low and high temperatures and oxidation resistance.
It also offers wear protection and inhibits the formation of sludge, gum, lacquer, and foam. It is red in color for ease of leak detection. Ford escape power steering fluid is recommended for use in the ford, mercury, and Lincoln vehicles that require either MERCON V or MERCON type fluid.
Ford power steering fluid should not be used in applications where MERCON LV or MERCON SP, FNR5 Automatic transmission fluid, Motor-craft premium automatic transmission fluid or Type-F automatic transmission fluid is recommended.
This product is suitable for all ford and Lincoln cars that have the same specs with this oil. It is also suitable for different industrial applications. Thus one bottle can serve many purposes.
This Nissan power steering fluid is crafted to high standards as your Nissan vehicle. Helps stop squeals at the same time preventing oxidation, corrosion, and wear. It is for use with all domestic and foreign motor vehicles.
The Genuine Nissan Fluid is formulated with detergent and stabilizer additives to reduce rack, bearing and valve wear. It also prevents shrinkage and hardening of seals.
Changing your Nissan Murano power steering fluid contributes to improvement in performance and longevity of your vehicle.
This power steering oil is expensive to buy every time. The bottle is also slippery hence requires you to be careful when handling.
The Pentosin Hydraulic CHF 11-S is a synthetic high performance fluid for life-time application. It is the best power steering fluid for modern vehicle aggregates. It is specially designed for hydraulics with highest technical requirements.
This includes: level control, power steering, hydro-pneumatic suspension, shock absorber, stability and traction control, central lock systems and many more.
The product is suitable for all-weather conditions and promises full performance from -40 to over 130° Celcius system temperature. It is perfect for use in electro-hydraulic mechanisms of central lock systems and convertible tops.
Also, the newer cans do not have the pouring straw. It requires care when pouring to avoid any losses.
The Red Line Power Steering Fluid offers service fill requirements of many auto manufacturers. It may be used where manufacturers call for automatic transmission fluid like Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Nissan and many others.
This oil also satisfies power steering units that require GM PN 1050017Ford spec-number M2C33-F or Chrysler spec number 5931. It also satisfies hydraulic specs of sun strand piston pumps and Denison vane pumps.
The oil has improved wear protection, resists foaming, evaporation and thermal breakdown. It also has greater heat resistance hence helps in preventing high-temperature boilover. Red line steering fluid is compatible with synthetics and petroleum.
This is best power steering fluid brand that works fine with other fluids. It improves the lifespan of power steering units. It also has proprietary synerlec additive technology that preserves internals of your power steering.
Royal Purple Steering Fluid is compatible with the convenient power steering fluids. It, therefore, saves you the time and headache you may experience when searching for the exact power steering fluid meant for your car.
The fluid works perfect on cold climate and is compatible with multiple vehicle power steering. The synerlec technology included is great for moving parts. The bottle is easy to grip, and the oil may be mixed with the other conventional fluids.
The quantity is small for the price, and it does not work well for non-synthetic pumps. The bottle feels quite heavy when refilling for the first time.
The Throttle Muscle TM7587 is a steering oil that works best for most cars. It also can be applied to different devices that require ATF fluid or power steering fluid. Whether it is a bike or car, this product is the best companion for easy navigation.
It works with a number of vehicles that need power steering oils of the same constituents. It prevents wear and tear of metals as well as corrosion and oxidation of materials. With such a fluid, your car steering will last for a long period of time.
The bottle is not easy to grip and may be heavy for some people when refilling.
The ACDelco 10-4017 Auto-TRAK II is an all-purpose steering fluid for your car as it definitely matches with your manufacturer’s guide. One bottle of it contains 1 Liter of power steering oil that can serve many small vehicles for a long while.
It comes with an anti-oxidant substance that preserves parts of your steering wheel and also prevents whining. The fluid can work for a long time under high temperatures. It prevents you from worrying about any overheating problems. The product is cheap and will save you on cash while still do a good job.
AC Delco does not conform to a number of manufacturer’s requirement and the bottle is heavy at first when containing 1 liter fluid.
The Pentosin CHF 202 Power Steering Fluid is an all-purpose high performance oil. It is formulated for central hydraulic systems like rear axle steering, power steering, level control shock absorbers and hydro-pneumatic suspensions.
Can be used on Volvo (2002-2010), Volkswagen (2006-2010), Porsche Cayenne (2005-2010) and Saab (2006-2010). You should note that Pentosin CHF oils should not be mixed with automatic transmission fluids.
The oil is ideal for cold weather climates. It also works perfectly under extreme conditions.
The bottle does not have a handle. It requires extra care when handling.
Using a single pack of Prestone power steering fluid gives great flexibility to your power steering. The Prestone Honda power steering fluid preserves easy power steering operations. The loud noise or whining of your vehicle is done away with by this fluid.
The formula of Prestone AS261 contains anti-wear agents that preserve pump components. The oil comes with seal conditioners that protect and rejuvenates your seal. It is compatible with factory fluids which makes refilling a hitch-free process.
The bottle is expensive and slippery. Prestone European power steering fluid is not perfect for some Asian vehicles.
The Lucas Oil 10823 is one of the best universal power steering fluid. It improves flexibility of your power steering. The oil reduces friction and stiffness of the power steering system.
Lucas power steering fluid reduces wear and tear of the steering parts. You should expect long life of rack and pinion, seals, cylinder, pumps and valves.
It also stops foaming and fading in high-performance situations. Lucas power steering fluid with conditioners is compatible with various steering systems.
A pack of the product comes with four bottles that are lightweight. It is suitable for a number of car models and variants.
Power Steering Fluids Comparisons
Power Steering Fluid vs. Transmission Fluid
Power steering oil is a hydraulic flowing medium that is used to give power to the steering system whereas transmission fluid lubricates constituents present in your car’s transmission system. It also acts as coolant having an automatic gearbox.
Transmission fluid is red in color for leak detection while power steering oil is yellowish to clear in color.
Can You Use Transmission Fluid In A Steering Pump?
Transmission fluid and power steering fluids are all types of hydraulic system fluids. However, they can be quite different and are meant to do separate jobs. It may be dangerous to replace one in the place of the other.
The only instance you should consider using transmission fluid in a steering pump is during emergencies. It may not work for long. Using transmission fluid may work, but in some systems, it may cause issues with some of the steering components.
Exceptional models that can use transmission fluid in the steering pump include Chrysler, Ford and GM models.
Can I Mix Power Steering Fluid With Transmission Fluid?
Mixing the two can lead to seals being compromised. This is because the formulation of transmission fluids is different. However, there are other models that may work well with the two mixtures as they have about the same viscosity.
Power Steering Fluid vs. ATF
The main difference between the two is that automatic transmission fluid contains friction modifiers and detergents. The detergents keep contaminants away which work their way into the power steering system. If they do so, they can cause damage to hydraulic valves that are a major part of the steering rack.
The friction modifiers help in controlling heat build-up as the valves and pump operate as hydraulic systems produce a lot of heat.
They both have the same seal materials which are resistant to hydraulic fluid breakdown.
Are power steering fluid and ATF the same?
Both of the two mediums are hydraulic fluids meant to cycle through pressure pumps. The pressure involved may be up to 1000 PSI and the mediums have low viscous friction for them not to heat up excessively when in use.
The fluids are designed to withstand very high temperatures and easily flow through small diameter tubes as they lubricate them.
How does power steering fluid differ from ATF?
Automatic transmission fluid is meant to work in high temperature ranges. It is formulated with additives that may probably gunk up actuator and fluid pump in a power steering system.
Power Steering Fluid vs. Brake Fluid
Both fluids function as lubricants, but are used on different systems and automobile parts. While brake fluids are used in braking systems, power steering fluid brands are pumped into steering systems
These hydraulic fluids function differently. A brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid that powers up components of a car’s braking system: this includes hydraulic clutch and brake. A power steering fluid, on the other hand, optimizes the performance of a car’s power steering system by increasing pressure to the system.
The best power steering fluid is compressible, characterized by a low freezing point and high boiling point. On the other hand, brake fluid is an in-compressible oil dissimilar for its high boiling point.
Are power steering fluid and brake fluid the same?
While both of them are hydraulic fluids, they have different lubrication properties and other features. They have different additives depending on their intended function and specification.
Can power steering fluid be used for brake fluid?
As technology is evolving, the fluids are being improvised by developers and are created for specific functions. Therefore, it is advisable for best synthetic power steering fluid to be used for steering systems and brake fluid for brakes so as to give an optimum performance. Also, the brakes system requires a fluid with a higher boiling point.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Power Steering Fluid Flash Necessary?
A power steering fluid flash is necessary from time to time as it is good for your car’s health. Vehicles with a hydraulic power steering system require best rated power steering fluid. As the components wear, the medium becomes contaminated with rubber and metal particles.
Continuous circulation of the contamination will eventually result in an increase in wear of the gear and pump. Power steering flushes ought to be done as a preventative measure like any other fluids. The flush protects the pump against permanent failure.
I normally do the service after every two years. You can also talk to your mechanic about the service depending on your vehicle’s performance and age. Flushing is more cost effective as compared to buying a new pump.
Is Power Steering Fluid Flammable?
Technically, best synthetic power steering fluid is considered a combustible product, but not flammable. A flammable product is something that catches fire easily in normal circumstances. On the other hand, a combustible substance will burn but not readily.
A good example of the fluid catching fire is when there is a leak, and it causes it to spray on the exhaust system which is hot enough to ignite it.
Is Power Steering Fluid Universal?
The different vehicles available require different products of power steering fluids. However, the newer models require the same type of hydraulic fluid, which is specifically formulated. A universal power steering fluid can be satisfactory for a number of applications. Some automobiles require certain additives for their pumps and seals.
How Long Does Power Steering Fluid Last?
The medium is always in constant use even when the engine is not running. It is subjected to a lot of heat, which eventually will cause the reservoir to need replacement. However, there is no specific lifespan of the fluid; hence you need to check it from time to time.
Can Power Steering Fluid Go Bad?
All fluids have a shelf-life, and it is best to confirm, mainly when the medium has stayed in the container for a very long time. If it has been tightly sealed in the container and no dirt or water has entered, then it should be in a perfect condition to work.
When Power Steering Fluid Is Low What Happens?
Your car will exhibit a number of symptoms when the fluid is low. In regular use, the level should not quickly go down. If this is so, there might be a problem such as a leak. The following are some of the problems you should check out:
- Noisy steering
If the power steering is making noise especially when you are moving slowly, it is time to check the level of the oil in the reservoir.
- Jumpy or jerky power steering
Sometimes the steering wheel may feel jerky especially when you turn it smoothly from a given direction to the other.
- A hard to turn the steering wheel
As a power steering systems lose fluid, it works less efficiently. With time, you will start to feel a difference making it hard to turn the wheel than normally.
- Puddle or stains under your vehicle
If you notice a stain or puddle under your vehicle in your usual parking space, it may be the power steering oil.
Is It Safe To Drive A Vehicle Without Power Steering Fluid?
You may drive your car without the fluid, but you will need a lot of force while turning the power steering. Driving it for extended periods of time in such a condition will lead to pump damage. If you need to drive your vehicle without the oil, avoid turns to right or left and refill the fluid as soon as possible.
What Happens If I Overfill My Power Steering Fluid?
Overfilling the oil can cause a leakage which can then reach the reservoir. This may cause foaming of the hydraulic fluid, shortening the lifespan of the system. Also, as the medium gets hot, it expands and will force its way out of your car’s reservoir.
Will Filling A Power Steering Fluid Hurt My Vehicle?
Most of the modern power steering systems have pressure relief built in the cap. The heat will make the fluid to expand, but the cap will remain intact due to pressure relief. If not, the cap will be pushed off the reservoir.
Can Power Steering Fluid Freeze?
The fluid is a hydraulic fluid and will only get thick and sluggish when it is cold. As the temperature reaches -30° Celsius range, some conventional power steering fluids become useless. The best power steering fluid brand ought to be good for any temperature even below -30° Celsius. During cold weather, look for fluid specifically designed for extremely low temperatures.
What Causes Bubbles in Power Steering Fluid?
Bubbles in best synthetic power steering fluid may be an indication of air leak into the system. As the system is not a sealed unit, bubbles may occur when the cap is removed with the engine still on. This will make your steering difficult hence it is best to have it fixed immediately to avoid accidents.
Can Having No Power Steering Fluid Affect The Brake Performance?
Power steering oil separates completely from brake oil. So, the two do not interfere with each other. However, when braking, the front wheel will have more weight as the weight will shift forward. This increases contact patches increasing traction dramatically. If you do not have power steering to assist you, it will be really hard to control your car during braking.
As a driver, you should understand that the best power steering fluid is important just as your engine oil. It is imperative to know which type of fluid should be used and when it should be changed to ensure optimum performance and prevent steering system problems. It is not uncommon for pump failure to be experienced as a result of the wrong type of power steering fluid used.
The best rated power steering fluid brand will save you time, money and most importantly your life. Keeping the fluid in check ensures your car is road ready. Your manufacturer’s manual will guide you towards the correct oil to use. Remember, it is a lot cheaper to buy the fluid than paying for costly repairs of a damaged power steering rack or pump.